Who is Asana for?
This project management software is best suited to smaller teams looking to improve their collaboration and accountability when working on projects. Asana doesn’t offer any budgeting or reporting features, but when it comes to ease-of-use and navigation, their user-interface and user-experience are virtually unparalleled.
So if your team needs a collaborative-focused project management tool with very little ramp-up time, Asana is a fantastic choice.
Asana's key features
Asana’s features are all about empowering the entire team rather than just the project manager. The emphasis is on task and workload management features that allow the team to prioritize different aspects of the project without burning out. Unfortunately Asana doesn’t offer any native budgeting or invoicing features, making it more of a collaborative tool than a full stack project management software.
Management and planning features
- Task prioritization and scheduler: Asana gives users the choice of creating, scheduling, and prioritizing tasks in several different formats including task lists, Gantt (timeline) charts, and kanban boards. This gives you the flexibility to track your teams and projects however it suits you.
- Shared team calendar: If you need a long term view of your project, Asana has you covered with a shared team calendar that you or your team can access and update in real-time.
- Resource management and time tracking: Use Asana to track your two most valuable project resources — workload and time spent on tasks. Unfortunately the software does not cover most other types of resource management such as tools and materials.
- Document storage: Store any relevant project files and documents in Asana using the task file attachment tool, that way your team will have access to everything they need at a moment’s notice.
- Communication: Asana offers comment sections in every task for discussion, collaboration, and resource sharing.
- File sharing: Every task in Asana allows for file uploads, whether it’s documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, or images. You can either drag and drop files into a task or manually browse and upload files as you see fit.
Asana doesn’t include any financial tracking features such as budgets, expenses, or invoicing.
Benefits of using Asana
After reviewing Asana and speaking with one of their lead software developers, I’ve come to the conclusion that what really sets Asana apart is the focus on making all users want to use their product. Unlike other project management tools, this software does not revolve solely around the project manager. For example, Asana offers a feature called “Workload,” which provides live visual representations of every team member’s current tasks and shows if anyone is particularly overloaded.class="caption">
Anytime a team member goes over a certain task threshold, the project manager is warned of overload and is given the opportunity to transfer tasks over to the rest of the team.class="caption">
This feature provides the dual benefit of preventing burnouts, as well as incentivizing team members to track all of their work as it comes in. Not only that, but by using “Workload,” your team will not need to waste time in meetings discussing who is doing what and when they are doing it.
This kind of mentality is seen throughout Asana, from the multiple task management methods to choose from (work timelines, to-do lists, kanban boards), to their simple user-interface.class="caption">
For example, the kanban system for Asana is so simple that you can create task cards at any point in the workflow. I’ve never seen that before in a kanban system — most only have one “new task” button and once you’ve created the task, you’ll have to move it to the appropriate step. Of course, in a way this kind of system is solving problems that don’t really exist, but it definitely shows their commitment to convenience.
In my opinion, Asana takes the simplicity of Basecamp and adds a dose of flexible functionality to create a truly seamless collaboration experience.
Asana’s pricing is a little steep. Once you upgrade beyond the free “Basic” package, the next two pricing tiers of $9.99/user/month or $19.99/user/month will really add up over time. While I highly recommend this product for smaller teams based on its functionality, Asana is best for small teams with large budgets. Even relatively small teams of 10 users are looking at roughly $100 per month for a package that leaves out unique features such as Workload and useful integrations like Adobe Creative Cloud.
However, not only is it potentially cheaper than a collaboration tool like Basecamp, it also has the additional visual tracking aids (charts, timelines, kanban, etc.):
- Basic: Free — Task lists, Kanban boards, calendars, app integrations, up to 15 users.
- Premium: $9.99/user/month with annual contract — All previous features, timelines, advanced searches, custom field creation.
- Business: $19.99/user/month with annual contract — All previous features, portfolios, Workload, forms, automatic proofing, Adobe Creative Cloud integration.
- Enterprise: Pricing negotiated with the client — All previous features, user provisioning, data exporting, custom branding, priority support.
Asana's ease of use
Building a quality project management tool is always a balancing act between user-experience and functionality. Either you’re adding so many features that the user-experience suffers, or you prioritize ease of use and you leave lots of functions behind. Aside from the lack of reporting and budgeting features, Asana strikes a very healthy balance between user-experience and functionality.
Asana prides itself on creating a project management software that is accessible to as many people as possible, while providing several task management options and useful team collaboration features. In fact, when you start up Asana for the first time you can take your pick from dozens of templates to get started, such as:
- 1:1 Meeting Agenda
- Digital Fundraising Campaign
- New Employee Onboarding
- Editorial Calendar
- Agency Collaboration
- Design Project Plan
- Software and System Development
- Bug Tracking
- Product Roadmap
- And so many more
In my opinion, this is one of the few project management tools that you can pick up with very little instruction from the vendor. However, if you do need help, Asana’s support service is more than willing to assist you.
Navigating through Asana is also simple with the single left-side menu which lists out all of your key destinations, such as the home dashboard or task lists. I never felt lost while using Asana, but if I had done, Asana was there to help me through my first project with instructions at the bottom of the screen. Each task I add to my project gives me the ability to set its current stage, how high of a priority that task is, and whether or not that task has been approved by my “higher-ups.”class="caption">
As I complete tasks, they are added to the reports section, where I can see which tasks are finished and which ones are still in progress. No percentages, complex formulas, or strange key combinations are needed to get the information I want. Just point and click.class="caption">
Unfortunately, Asana’s reporting functions end there. So if you’re looking for in-depth, data-driven reports native to the software, this tool is not for you. However, Asana does offer several integrations with other reporting tools including:
- Google Sheets
I hope the company maintains this level of usability as it grows and develops the product. I would hate for them to fall down a rabbit hole of complexity like so many other project management tools before them. Right now, when it comes to intuitive design and easy collaboration, Asana is hard to beat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a free version of Asana?
If all you’re looking for is task lists, kanban planning boards, and calendars for small teams of 15 users and fewer, Asana does have a free “Basic” option. However, the features that set this software apart, such as team workload monitoring or project timelines, are only available through the paid options.
Asana also offers a decent 30-day free trial of their “Premium” feature tier. I could cancel the trial at any point within those 30 days and even if I did, those features would still be available to me until it lapses. This way you can try out all of the unique features Asana has to offer before committing to their product.
What kinds of teams and projects work best with Asana?
Since Asana functions more as a collaborative tool than a comprehensive project management software, I believe this tool is best for small teams with no billing or budgetary requirements. I also wouldn’t recommend Asana for teams and projects that require invoicing or extensive reporting. This is a tool best suited to internal team projects, that won’t involve any contractors, invoicing, or billing of any kind.
Luckily, since this tool is so easy to pick up and run with, Asana is great for teams with little project management software experience. Asana guides users through the process of adding and completing tasks, using templates, and all other functions of their software. It’s the perfect tool to learn the ropes of basic project management skills.
What kinds of support does Asana offer?
Asana offers lots of different types of support including support articles, user forums, trainings/webinars, an onboarding guide, use cases, and a developers guide. Phone support was the only assistance I couldn’t find, which also happens to be the most important form of customer support. Sometimes training sessions and forums just won’t do and you need to speak with a live human being, so I hope Asana decides to offer this in the future.
How Asana Compares
|File Sharing||Budgeting||Collaborative Tools||Phone Support|
Ramp up your project team with this simple, versatile, and user-focused collaboration tool.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares) and Alphabet (C shares). The Motley Fool recommends Adobe Systems. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.