What Is Asana? How to Use Asana for Project Management

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Task management software is crucial for managing projects big and small. You need to be able to coordinate the work of all the project team members who are tackling the project from their own specific angles.

There are many tools on the market that help project managers with assigning tasks and team members with executing them. Let’s take an in-depth look at one: Asana, a task management tool with collaborative features for getting everyone organized and working more productively.

What Is Asana?

Asana is a task management tool founded in 2008 by former Facebook executives. They named their tool after a word in Sanskrit, in reference to a yoga position. Just as yoga improves your body and mind, the aim of Asana is to help you work better through streamlined communication.

Asana offers an opportunity to organize project teams and help them manage their work, all in one tool. The software allows project teams to create projects, assign tasks with deadlines and facilitate communication between team members.

There are also tools that allow users to report on progress and performance, add attachments and use calendars, among other things. The software can be integrated with other apps, including Gmail, Slack, Microsoft Outlook, Dropbox, Google Drive and Zapier.

Asana Features

Though it bills itself as a task management software, Asana tries to be the one-stop solution for all project management needs. Let’s look at the Asana features and see if it really does give project teams the coverage they need:

  • Task Management: Organize work in shared projects viewed as lists or kanban boards. Projects can be broken up into tasks and subtasks and viewed on a timeline. Attachments can be added, dependencies identified and fields customized.
  • Communication: Add comments to tasks and tag other team members. Comments can also be added to images and PDFs, which become tasks that can be tracked. There are team pages that collect the team’s projects and profiles on one page and everyone can comment and drop announcements.
  • Project Views: Get multiple views of your project, including a task list, which is a prioritized to-do list. There’s also a list view, which is a grid that can be filtered and formatted. The workload view helps manage resources. The calendar view shows an overview of the work with important dates.
  • Reporting: Use the tool to set, track and manage your project goals, set milestones to break up bigger projects into more manageable parts and motivate your team. Get status updates to monitor the project and share with stakeholders. A dashboard can be customized to show real-time data in charts.
  • Team Management: Organize your project teams and keep team members connected with shared calendars and comments, while also controlling privacy settings as needed. Add vendors, contractors and other patterns into the communication channel to keep them in the loop.

Asana Pricing

Asana offers four tiers of subscription. Each has its pros and cons, but there is a low bar for entry for the casual users and more advanced plans for those who need to have the full suite of features:

  • Basic: The free plan allows you to manage unlimited tasks and your personal to-do lists. Create as many projects as you like, message team members as often as you need to. You also get an unlimited activity log and unlimited files storage of 100 MB per file. Get to collaborate with up to 15 people. Use the board and calendar view. Assign tasks with due dates and get an overview of the project. For time tracking, however, you’ll have to integrate other apps.
  • Premium: This plan has a 30-day free trial, which when over will cost you $10.99 per user, per month when billed annually ($13.49 when billed monthly). In addition to the basic plan, users get the timeline, dashboard, advanced search and reporting, custom fields and unlimited guests. There are also forms, rules, milestones, administrative controls, private teams and projects and more.
  • Business: For professional organizations, the business plan gives you more features for $24.99 per user, per month when billed annually ($30.49 when billed monthly). You get the premium package plus portfolios, goals, workload and the custom-rules builder. There’s also customization, forms branching, approvals, proofing for visual files, custom fields that can be locked and advanced integrations with Salesforce, Adobe, Creative Cloud, Tableau, Power BI and more.
  • Enterprise: The highest subscription tier is enterprise, but learning the cost will require you to contact their sales department. The features you get are the same as the business plan, plus security assertion markup language (SAML), system for cross-domain management (SCIM), data export and deletion, attachment controls, custom branding, priority support and more.

How to Use Asana for Project Management

Projects are not all the same. Asana gives you three options on how to create work in the software. First, you need to understand if you’re starting a project, working on a task or a subtask:

  1. Create Projects: To create a project just add it, name it and describe it. Then use a dropdown menu to select the team that will be working on the project. Premium users can make the project private. Every project created has different views: list, conversation, calendar, progress and files.
  2. Onboard Team Members: Team members will be notified as tasks are added and new team members can be added to the project at any time. Tasks break down the project into steps that will lead to the final deliverable. Add tasks in the list view just as you would type them on any document.
  3. Make Task Groups: Break the project up into sections, which are a group of tasks within a project. It’s easy to move tasks around by simply dragging and dropping them where you want them to go. Using task details to add a description, assign and due date or due time. You can set a recurring due date if necessary.
  4. Add Task Details: Tagging the task adds priority, categorization and more. You can create a subtask, which is a smaller job that is part of the larger one, and then assign it to someone else on the team. Subtasks can have due dates. All tasks can have file attachments.
  5. Generate Project Timelines: Use the timeline to schedule your project plan. This Gantt-like visual shows you each task, its duration, deadline and any dependencies. To stay on track, use status updates, burnup charts and other reports on your progress.

Pros and Cons of Asana

Does the tool really help manage projects, tasks and teams through every phase of a project’s life cycle? Let’s take a look at what Asana does well and where it falls short:

Pros of Using Asana

One of the biggest advantages of using Asana is that, unlike a lot of other options, it offers a free version. Granted that version is light on features, but depending on how much you need, it could be just right for you.

Asana’s collaborative platform is great. Teams collaborate on a project, the workspace allows them to see all the tasks and projects for great transparency, and users can follow tasks to stay updated. While Asana lacks robust features, it makes up for this by having many third-party apps and software that you can integrate into the tool.

One place where Asana excels is in how it prioritizes work. This focus on productivity (with labels, deadlines, tags and more to track progress) is key to winning over users.
Security is also a plus. Security isn’t always high on the product list, but it’s one of the most important things organizations look for. If their data isn’t secure, their organization can suffer. They also have very secure storage.

The Cons of Using Asana

While the tool has a Gantt-like timeline, it has nowhere near the power of what a real Gantt chart can do. This is a major omission, as the Gantt chart is a foundational project management tool. It is used for planning and scheduling and is often where the project manager lives for the duration of the project.

Another problem with Asana is that it’s a steep learning curve for new users. Its interface isn’t user-friendly and most new users will have to carve out a substantial amount of time to get training before they can be onboarded.

There are no timesheets or any other time-tracking features, which is a dangerous deficit if you’re looking to keep a project on schedule. Asana can track projects and tasks, but not time the task’s assignees spend working on them. This is a problem, not only for tracking, but billing clients.

Asana seems to excel at simple projects, but once things get complicated, it becomes less easy to use. Big teams and projects crowd the page and make it difficult to scan important information or track tasks and team members. Speaking of tasks, they can only be assigned to one person. That might work on smaller projects, but often a task will be executed by more than one person and there’s no way to do this simply.

Even though the company offers a free version, most people will need more features to manage their projects. Once you start moving up into the paid subscription plans, things can get pricey fast. This is especially a problem if you’re a relatively small team. Basic features like start dates and dependencies aren’t available unless you pay for an expensive plan.

ProjectManager Is the Best Asana Alternative

If you feel like Asana isn’t the right tool for you, don’t worry. ProjectManager offers everything that Asana does in a user-friendly package that gives your team dynamic collaborative tools to help them work better together.

ProjectManager has a must-needed feature that Asana lacks. Plan with our Gantt, which automatically calculates critical path and sets a baseline so you can compare planned versus actual progress. When you’re assigning, our real-time data shows you who on your team is available when which makes assigning tasks more efficient.

gantt chart screenshot in ProjectManager.com
ProjectManager.com has Gantt charts, kanban boards, task lists and calendars for managing work.

One of the biggest differences between Asana and ProjectManager.com is our robust task management features. While you’re stuck with only one assignee per task with Asana, you can assign as many as you want with our tool. We show all your tasks and subtasks in one place, allowing you to prioritize, add attachments, link dependencies and set durations without having to jump to an expensive pay plan.

a screenshot of the task list project view in ProjectManager.com

If you want to learn more about our award-winning project management software, visit our homepage and view our full feature set. See why project managers have used our software to plan over 2,000,000 projects around the globe.

ProjectManager.com is award-winning software that helps you better plan, execute and report on your project all in real-time so you make more informed decisions. Get transparency into workflow, balance your resources for greater productivity and give teams the collaborative features they need to work better together. Try ProjectManager.com today for free.

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