How to use Asana for project management

An empowered team, progress that you can see (and measure), and zero busywork? Sounds like every project manager’s dream. Luckily for you, a well-executed project doesn’t need to be a figment of your imagination. We believe that the right tools can help you master your workflow, support your team, and set your company up for success. 

Enter: Asana. Asana is project management software that helps teams carry out their projects and initiatives from beginning to end. It allows you to keep all work and communications in one place, which means less switching between an endless number of windows and more time moving your project ahead. Of course, success is the culmination of a number of things, of which a project management platform is only one. But we have to say… Asana makes success all the more possible.

Keep reading to learn:

  • How you can successfully plan and execute complex projects in Asana
  • What common problems in project management that Asana helps to solve
  • How to decide if Asana is right for you and your team

What is Asana?

Asana is, above everything, a project management tool. But when used to its fullest potential, Asana also becomes a tool for team collaboration, task management, work management, and all-around productivity. Asana is available via their web app, desktop app (Mac and Windows), and mobile app (iOS and Android). 

Let’s take a look at Asana’s core features (while keeping in mind that not every feature is available with the free version):

  • Goals: We all know that setting clear and measurable goals (OKRs) is one of the keys to keeping a company or team aligned and focused on what’s most important. With Goals in Asana, not only can you keep your company-wide goals and sub-goals in one easy-to-reference place, but you can also connect each goal to the work and the people that’ll see that goal to its fruition. Not to mention that this feature makes it easier to track a goal’s progress, so you always know where you stand.
  • Timeline: View your project as a timeline (Gantt chart), perfect for tracking how different tasks relate to each other and the overall vision for a project.
  • Portfolios: Ideal for reporting purposes, this feature makes it easy to track progress from a high-level and share it with stakeholders.
  • Workload: Take care of your team members by seeing what’s on everyone’s plate and making sure everyone has a well-balanced workload.
  • Forms: When work requests are coming in hot, the best thing you can do is standardize the process to be more streamlined and less overwhelming. Forms help you do just that.
  • Automations: Repetitive busywork is the bane of productivity! Asana lets you let custom automations do the work for you.

These features make up just a small slice of what Asana has to offer. But don’t worry, we’ll dive even deeper to Asana’s project management capabilities.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what Asana does, how it works, how much it costs, and more.

Who is Asana made for?

Asana has a track record for being versatile, with features that serve a wide range of teams and workflows. Whether your team specializes in marketing campaigns, product launches, or planning and running sprints — Asana has the functionality to support your team’s workflow. Take a look at the types of teams that Asana is designed for, as stated on their website!

Asana works great for:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Operations
  • Design
  • Product
  • IT departments
  • Human resources
  • Finance
  • Engineering
  • Event planners

What are the benefits of using Asana? What problems does it solve?

Here are just a handful of the problems that Asana solves:

  • Priorities of any given project not being clearly communicated, which leads to improper time management, a lack of focus, and context-switching (which is deadly for focus)
  • Relevant information pertaining to a project or task being scattered across multiple spaces (such as Dropbox, Excel, messaging platform, etc.)
  • The status of a project or task not being readily available, which results in having to track down people who can give you the most recent update
  • Long meetings held in the efforts of getting everyone on the same page

Asana features for project management: In a nutshell

For a bird’s eye view of everything that Asana has to offer for project management, take a look at this list of extensive features, as laid out on their website:

  • Projects
  • Tasks
  • Subtasks
  • Milestones
  • Task assignees
  • Sections
  • Custom fields
  • Due dates and times
  • Start dates
  • Attachments
  • Forms
  • Rules
  • Likes
  • Approvals
  • Project overview
  • Project brief
  • Sync tasks across projects
  • Dependencies
  • Custom templates
  • Copy projects

How does project management in Asana work? How do I get started?

Asana is trusted by teams like Spotify, Deloitte, The New York Times, and NASA — just to name a few. But how does it work? We’ll break down the process for you step-by-step.

  1. Get set up to collaborate.
    After creating your Asana account, the way to link up with other members and collaborate is through an Organization or Workspace. Organizations are for people who share the same professional email domain and want the ability to break off into Teams, while Workspaces are for individuals who sign up for Asana with their personal email addresses. You can click here for more information about the differences between Organizations and Workspaces.
  2. Create your team.
    If you created a Workspace, skip this step since Workspaces function as their own Teams. However, if you created an Organization, Teams are the next level of hierarchy. Teams are exactly what they sound like: subdivisions of the entire organization. How you organize teams is up to you, but you might have a team for every department, such as IT, sales, etc.
  3. Create your project.
    A project doesn’t belong to the entire organization, but to the team under which it’s been created. The ‘project’ is one of the major building blocks of Asana. It’s in the project that you house all of the tasks, members, and data that will help move the project along. Creating a project helps you stay organized. One of the best things about Asana is that they have a huge library of ready-made templates for you to get started creating a project. Meaning, you don’t have to start from scratch. For example, if you are managing an engineering team, you can choose from Asana’s selection of templates for bug tracking, sprint planning, product roadmaps, retrospectives, and daily standups. Templates help you hit the ground running, confident that you’ve set your project up in a way that aligns with the specific needs of the project. But don’t worry — you’re not restricted to the template after you choose it. After employing a template, you can always customize it to mold to your needs.
  1. Organize your project with tasks.
    After you’ve set up your project, start populating your project with tasks. Tasks represent an action that needs to be done in order to make progress on the project. You can even add details to each task card to provide even more context and keep all the relevant information in one place. For example, you might use the details section to add a deadline, assign a team member (“assignee”) to the task for accountability and transparency, attach files, and much more. For even more hierarchy and organization power, you can group related tasks under “sections” and subdivide each task into subtasks.
  2. Refine your workflow.
    Once your project and its contents are laid out, you and your team can start creating a game plan for how you’ll get things done. In other words, you’ll start designing your workflow. The steps you’ve taken up until this point — organizing your project into tasks, adding start and end dates, etc. — should have already gotten you thinking about your workflow. But now’s the time to really refine it and communicate it across your team. A great place to start on this workflow refinement process is by using Asana’s views feature. Switch between board view, list view, timeline view, and calendar view. Each view literally lets you see your project from different perspectives, those of which can inform the way you tackle the work in front of you. For example, you can use the timeline view to see your project on a Gantt chart. This is particularly helpful for when you need to visualize the relationships between the different tasks. It becomes easier to spot where tasks overlap and where there might be dependencies. All in all, this makes it easier to prevent bottlenecks from taking place.
  1. Customize!
    At this point, you can start customizing the platform with custom fields, automations (“rules”), and anything else that helps your team stay organized, focused, and on track. With your project, tasks, and workflow all set up in the Asana platform, you and your team should be ready to forge ahead on your goals and initiatives.

Our tip is to stay engaged with the platform. That’s how you ensure that you and your team really get the most out of Asana. Notifications, which you can set up in-browser and/or in-email, help you and your team members up-to-date. Staying engaged means providing status updates within Asana, keeping your project current with the most recent files, and communicating with your team members in the comments.

Asana integrations

How powerful could a project management platform be without some powerful integrations to go with it? If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that no matter how comprehensive a tool is, we need to know that it can play nice with our other favorite apps.

Asana offers an array of integrations. There are the integrations that are essential for everyone, no matter their industry or department like Gmail, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, and Slack. Then, there are the integrations that are a little bit more specialized but are still absolutely necessary for certain people — like Jira Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Asana for Salesforce. And of course, we have our very own Clockwise as an integration offering!

You can browse Asana’s full selection of integrations by clicking here!

Asana pricing

Asana offers four plans: Basic, Premium, Business, and Enterprise. 

  1. Basic is Asana’s free plan, and it works best for small teams “just getting started with project management” — according to Asana’s website. It comes with unlimited tasks, projects, messages, and file storage (although each file needs to be 100MB or less). As the free plan, however, it does have its limitations. For example, teams can include no more than 15 members. And while Asana Basic lets you switch between List, Board, and Calendar Views, most notably it doesn’t allow access to Timeline View — a really helpful (albeit, necessary) component of project management.
  1. Next up, we have Asana Premium. This plan costs $10.99 per user per month when you pay for the whole year; or $13.49 per user per month when you pay by month. It includes everything that comes with Asana Basic — plus Timeline View, Universal Reporting, Forms, ready-to-use automations, custom fields, access to more templates, and more. For project management needs, Asana Premium covers all the basics.
  1. Asana Business is best suited for those managing company-wide projects and initiatives. It costs $24.99 per user per month when you pay for the whole year; or $30.49 per user per month when you pay by month. Asana Business includes everything that you’ll find in Asana Premium — plus Workload, Portfolios, Goals, custom automations, and many more. 
  1. Enterprise is Asana’s top-of-the-line offering. For companies who want to be able to scale the software across their entire organization, it’s worth looking into Asana Enterprise. However, you’ll need to contact sales to get a custom quote.

It goes without saying that the more you pay, the more you get. But not everyone needs the advanced features like unlimited reporting (Asana Premium) or company-wide scalability (Asana Enterprise). Take stock of what problems you’re looking to solve, find the features that’ll solve those problems, then pick the plan that offers those. Don’t worry — you can always upgrade (or downgrade) your plan later. Asana lets you switch tiers as well as add more “seats.” A person who joins Asana using your organization’s email domain goes onto the organization’s billing plan and is said to occupy a seat.

Pros and cons of Asana for project management

Pros:

  • Works well with many of the world’s favorite apps and tools
  • Features an easy-on-the-eyes user interface that balances simplicity with upbeat colors
  • Equips you and your team with thoughtfully-designed features to carry a project from start to finish
  • Makes real-time communication and collaboration possible, which is especially important for remote and distributed teams
  • Contains so many awesome features aimed at helping you visualize your team’s progress, like drag-and-drop Kanban Board View, Timeline, and Dashboards 

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include a built-in time tracking feature
  • The free version may not cut it for most project management teams, especially those that are agile

Asana alternatives

Keeping your options open? If so, take a look at these other popular project management apps:

  • Monday.com
  • Clickup
  • Basecamp
  • Airtable
  • Wrike
  • Smartsheet
  • Trello

We’ve also created a resource dedicated specifically to project management tools for teams practicing Agile.

Going forward

When ceaseless email threads and tedious spreadsheets aren’t cutting it anymore, it’s time to up your game with a project management software like Asana. With its ease of use, thoughtfully-designed features, and reasonable pricing, Asana will carry your team from the project planning stage all the way to when you and your team are raising a toast for a job well done.

Want to make Asana even better? Our Asana + Clockwise integration makes it faster and easier than ever to schedule tasks on your calendar. Just enter the amount of time needed and select when you want to do the work, and Clockwise will automatically add the task to your calendar.


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Future of Work

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