Asana Pros and Cons
Asana is an all-purpose project management software that focuses on real-time team collaboration and task management. It allows businesses to keep track of tasks as they move through different workflow stages. Some standout features of Asana include Kanban, Gantt charts, capacity planning, and custom workflows, giving teams full control over the way they work. It also has an extensive gallery of templates and third-party integrations.
While Asana is a versatile project management tool, it does lack some in-built features such as project budgeting and time-tracking. Nevertheless, external integrations and Asana’s open API can make up for this. Asana is ideal for small to medium-sized companies looking for a robust project management solution.
In this Asana review, we will explore project management features, pricing, ease of use, add ons, and more.
What is Asana?
Asana is a project management software founded in 2008 by Facebook's co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-Google/Facebook engineer Justin Rosenstein. While working at Facebook, Moskovitz and Rosenstein developed the tool to help teams manage their projects and tasks systemically. Asana is named after a Sanskrit word that refers to the posture in which a Yogi sits. It can also be translated as a “comfortable seat”, particularly suited for meditation.
Since its founding, Asana has grown to more than 500 employees and is used in over a million organizations. While Asana is especially popular with small and medium-sized organizations, Decathlon, Air France, Spotify, and Deloitte also use Asana as their project management tool of choice.
Facts and Figures
|Founder||Dustin Moskovitz, Justin Rosenstein|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California|
Asana Project Management Features
Teams using Asana can improve collaboration and increase productivity via many useful features, including Kanban boards, capacity planning, Gantt charts, file-sharing, and note-taking. Teams can also set up custom workflows using Asana’s Rules builder, which automates busy work and removes tedious approval processes. Asana boasts an open API, an extensive template gallery, and a wide range of third-party integrations, ensuring that users can pick and match the tools they need to supercharge their working experiences.
Asana’s project planning features are especially useful for teams looking for a systematic approach to work. With different methods of visualizing project data such as Kanban, Gantt charts, list and calendar views, Asana ensures teams stay on top of their tasks and always receive the complete picture. Team members can also automate work and requests, reducing time spent performing mundane tasks. Asana also provides a number of templates for different projects and helps teams launch projects right out of the box.
Viewing a project in a Gantt chart format enables project managers to understand how tasks are mapped out against a timeline and relate to each other. Asana’s rendition of the Gantt chart, also known as the Timeline View, displays all the nuts and bolts of a project against a defined timeline. Project managers can review and assign tasks, schedule tasks within the Timeline View, set and label colors for better organization, draw out dependencies between tasks, and zoom in and out between days, weeks, months, and years.
If the dependencies between tasks are not labeled clearly, Asana will alert users with red arrows.
The Kanban method is a visual way of managing work items as they progress through defined workflows. Kanban is simple enough for team members to contribute, while making it easy for project managers to review progress. Asana’s Kanban board feature allows teams to organize tasks as cards that can be dragged and dropped across columns. Clicking on a card opens up a window where users can customize task details such as task description, due dates, associate the task to a specific project, and add collaborators to the task. There is also the possibility to add in custom fields.
Teams can also filter tasks according to labels such as assignee and due date and add task dependencies.
One of Asana’s main selling points is its capacity as a task management tool. Besides Kanban boards and Gantt charts, Asana offers teams a list view, calendar view, and files view when managing tasks. In the list view, Asana displays tasks in a list format and allows users to reorder tasks by dragging and dropping. The calendar view provides an overview of critical due dates and milestones in a calendar format. Finally, the files view provides a gallery-style display of all images, documents, and files attached to tasks.
With these different visualizations, users can plan, manage, review, and organize their tasks in a way that best fits their workflow. Users can also duplicate tasks, merge tasks, copy task links to share with team members, and add sub-tasks to break down their work into smaller, manageable portions.
Creating workflows with Asana helps teams automate recurring work and track incoming requests. With the Asana “Rules” feature, teams can build and design their own custom workflows that eliminate bottlenecks and repetitive tasks. Some custom workflows include approvals, employee onboarding, and work request forms.
Users can also select pre-built workflow templates from Asana’s gallery, such as moving new tasks to the correct project, assigning tasks to a specific teammate, and setting and shifting due dates.
Communication & Collaboration
Teams that use Asana can benefit from many of its collaboration tools. Asana has a dedicated area where discussions and feedback can occur and team members can jot down important notes. While Asana does not offer in-built messaging, an integration like Slack can be used for direct messaging. Teams also have the ability to share files with each other and store documents right within Asana.
Asana enables team members to share files with each other by uploading and attaching them to a task. A user can either browse and select the right file from their computer or drag and drop it into the Asana application. There is a 100MB per file attachment limit but Asana does not have a storage limit for the number of files a team can upload.
For files larger than 100MB, Asana recommends teams to upload them directly from a third-party file-sharing application such as Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
Asana keeps work in context by providing a discussion section within every task. Users can post comments to ask questions, offer feedback and suggestions, or tag another teammate. Asana’s comment feature also supports emojis, stickers, and rich text, providing users the opportunity to emphasize important parts of their communication. Users can also edit, delete, and pin comments. Project managers can easily review discussion to keep track of changes as they are updated and reflected in real-time.
Asana does not natively support the note-taking feature; however, teams can use the discussion section to capture important information about a task and pin the comment at the top. Alternatively, a team member can create their own private project to record and store notes. Other teammates will be able to view a private project using Asana’s search function but it will only be accessible to the owner.
Resource Allocation & Planning
Asana helps project managers ensure a fair distribution of workload via the capacity planning feature. This tool monitors a user’s workload and notifies the project manager when too much work has been assigned. For other resource planning tools such as time-tracking, users must use a third-party integration like EverHour.
Capacity planning allows project managers to view and track the team’s workload to determine if there are enough resources to complete a project. With Asana’s capacity planning tools, project managers can monitor a capacity trendline across teammates and make sure that no one in the team gets overloaded.
Asana sets the task count and task duration as the default measurement of a user’s workload, but project managers can add task effort to better gauge capacity. Task effort can range from hours to points, though project managers have the option of adding a custom numeric field. Asana will also notify project managers if a user is overloaded with work by turning their workload graph red.
Agile Project Management
With the use of Kanban boards, teams can run Agile projects and processes in Asana. Software development teams can create sprints and track developmental issues using customizable templates. Asana’s Forms feature also allows teams to create bug-tracking forms that capture crucial information such as browser type and operating system.
Though not typically used for Scrum, Asana has some features that support Scrum practices. To create an epic and add a story, Agile teams can start a new portfolio and create a task. Sprint planning is also supported through the use of a sprint planning template. By using filters and labels, teams can prioritize tasks in a sprint or a backlog.
Asana also integrates with ScrumGenius, an application that pulls the team’s activity from Asana and offers detailed Agile reporting such as when a task was created and completed.
Asana offers teams a few ways of tracking bugs without being overwhelmed. The bug tracking template reports and collects bugs in a single location while providing teams the opportunity to customize it to their needs.
With Asana’s forms feature that is available on the Premium, Business, and Enterprise plans, teams can also set up bug tracking forms that capture details such as browser type and operating system. There is also an option to attach screenshots. The bug tracking form can be circulated internally or sent out to clients.
Asana offers four different pricing plans: Basic, Premium, Business, and Enterprise. The Basic plan is free of charge and provides robust features for small teams that do not require extensive project management tools. The free plan does not have any time limitations. On the paid plans, teams receive access to additional features such as forms, custom fields, task dependencies, and milestones. Business and Enterprise plans are most suitable for large teams that manage more complex projects.
Asana also offers a 50% discount to nonprofits and a 20% discount to teams that pay for their subscriptions annually. Teams can also sign up for a free trial with Asana.
Asana safeguards customer data by adhering to industry-grade security protocols. Asana is compliant with the GDPR, EU-U.S., and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. Additionally, it has also completed SOC Type I and Type II audits, verifying and validating Asana’s security processes and practices.
All web connections to Asana are SSL secured and encrypted with TLS 1.1 and above. All servers are firewalled to permit the minimum traffic necessary to run Asana. Access to the servers is limited to Asana employees who have a legitimate need to access customer data. Asana also hosts user data securely in SSAE 16 audited data centers and uses Amazon Web Services (RDS & S3) to manage user data.
Project administrators can also ensure that employees sign into Asana via Google Accounts or set up SAML SSO. Finally, admins can limit a user’s access to projects by giving them access only to certain tasks or projects.
One of the best things about Asana is that it can be easily connected to a variety of integrations to expand its overall functionality beyond just project management. For example, the tool works well with Harvest for time-tracking and Slack for team chat.
Other integrations include:
- Google Drive
- Microsoft Office
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Asana CSV Importer
- Jira Cloud
- Power BI
Asana has a clear and easy to use interface with intuitive navigation. The dashboard is straightforward and makes it simple to quickly review projects and tasks. The navigation sidebar on the left displays “Home”, “My Tasks”, “Inbox”, and “Portfolios”. Daily tasks are prioritized, and users have the option to pin their most recent or most important projects under the “Favorites” tab. The search bar on the top right also allows a user to access a document or project they are looking for quickly.
With that said, Asana can seem quite bare at the beginning as companies are responsible for customizing the software, adding work items, and creating useful workflows. The possibilities of Asana are therefore dependent on the company operating the software.
Asana enables users to work on the go with its mobile apps available on iOS and Android devices. The app has fewer features than the web version, though users can still create and organize tasks, receive push notifications, attach files, and check their inboxes. Some features such as creating a project and adding a comment also work offline and will sync as soon as the user is back online.
Asana offers several options for customer support:
Asana Academy: The Asana Academy is a virtual platform where users can pick up the basis of Asana and learn how to use premium features such as setting up workflows and adding custom fields. The platform has step-by-step written tutorials, videos, and webinars, all hosted by the Asana Customer Success team.
Asana Forum: In the Asana Forum, teams can ask questions and receive answers from other Asana users and Asana experts. The forum is also available in multiple languages.
Asana Developer’s Guide: The Developer’s Guide primarily targets teams that want to customize the Asana experience and software developers who want to learn more about Asana’s API.
Direct support: Asana provides users the option to contact them directly via email and form submission. Teams have to be logged into their Asana account to do this. Those on the paid plans can also receive personalized coaching, calls, and training.
Asana is a great candidate for a general-purpose project management software. However, it does not have certain project management features such as project budgeting and in-built messaging. Here are other alternatives for teams that need a little more:
Asana is a comprehensive project management software aimed at improving team productivity and collaboration through effective task management. The software emphasizes how important it is to track and manage work to gain efficiency within a business. Asana features tools like Kanban, Gantt charts, automations, capacity planning, and customizable templates, ensuring that all teams can define their own workflows and find the best way of working. Asana is intuitive to use and is best suited for small to medium-sized companies, although large organizations such as Air France and Deloitte use Asana as well.
On the other hand, Asana lacks some project management features such as time-tracking and project budgeting. It is also not the most appropriate tool for Agile processes. Teams looking for additional features might have to integrate Asana with another application or consider an alternative.