Tool Talk: Take Action With Asana

Amp up your team’s accountability and engagement

In an effort to cut down on post-its and notepads, your team may be thinking of switching over to a task management software. While products like Todoist, Trello, or Wunderlist may work for your day-to-day, outside of work goals, it’s rare to find a software that so seamlessly integrates task management with project management, in a way that fosters and promotes team collaboration but doesn’t take a six-month course to get the hang of. If that’s what you’re looking for, Asana’s one of the best tools we could recommend.

Asana came into being in 2012 with a sterling Silicon Valley pedigree, but it made its name by being approachable and easy to get started with. If you’re interested, we definitely recommend checking out the 30-minute introductory video, and its refreshingly intuitive but thorough documentation. Here’s a quick rundown of why Asana might be the right tool for your team.

It’s team time: Asana, at its core, is project and task management software. Everything is broken down into teams, projects, tasks, and sections. Members of your organization can be divided up into ‘Teams’ however you want, and this can be a great way to avoid the dreaded ‘All Staff’ emails that might be overwhelming your inbox. Each team can create or be assigned to ‘Projects’, which are then broken down into ‘Tasks’ and ‘Sections’. To get the most out of this, be sure to assign dates for projects, tasks, and even sections, which can have subtasks (they can also have deadlines). Doing this makes the ‘My Tasks’ view super beneficial for managing your time and keeping you on track, as both the ‘List’ and ‘Calendar’ views give you a quick reference point for what’s up next.

Tasks and sections can also be assigned to team members, ‘followed’, and you can even @ members when you need to bring something to their attention. This clean, easy-to-follow system makes goal-setting and task assigning clear, ensuring accountability and keeping everyone informed of each step of a project’s development.

Dependent and accountable: With task assignments, due dates and descriptions set, you can take advantage of one of Asana’s accountability features: ‘Task dependencies’. Task dependencies make each team member’s role clear, as they indicate what must be done by whom in order for a project to progress. This feature can also be manipulated in ‘Timeline view’, which provides an instant, visual interpretation of a project’s progress, reproducing the ‘Gantt chart’ functionality that project managers and power users depend on. You can manually create dependencies in this view, hovering over the task, selecting ‘connector,’ and dragging it over to the dependent-upon task.

Project progress: Teams looking to quickly survey the current status of multiple projects underway will find the ‘Dashboard’ to be a real time-saver. Instead of having to manually shift through each individual project, the Dashboard feature provides the most recent update on a project’s status, accompanied by a progress chart. More info can be found on ‘project cards’, which you can add to the Dashboard to get a custom view matching your priorities. Those not keen on daily check-ins can opt for the ‘Dashboard digest’, an email sent out every Monday with the latest updates and the same chart you’d find on the Dashboard.

One more perk of the Dashboard? Asana integrates with Google Sheets, allowing you to transfer any project’s data into unique reports and visual representations. It’s as easy as clicking the ‘Open Report in Google Sheets’ button to the right of the Dashboard header.

These are just some of Asana’s many straightforward applications for teams of any size and a wide variety of projects. It continues to evolve and embrace new methods, translating the advanced features found in more formidable project management titans of the desktop era into a more easily mastered, clearly documented software that can be just as easy or as demanding as you need it to be.

If you’re curious or ready to give Asana a go, try out their free 30-day trial at asana.com.

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