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Asana Review: "Free Version Great for Small Teams"
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W. Aaron French profile photo
Updated December 09, 2014

Asana Review: "Free Version Great for Small Teams"

Score 8 out of 101
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Overall Satisfaction with Asana

Several teams at our organization use Asana, but it isn't used as an overall solution. In my experience thus far, it's used by smaller teams that can use the free version (we're a nonprofit, so very careful about the funds we spend). Generally speaking, our organization is very matrixed - that is, a "hub" of national teams works to support 45+ "spokes" of regional teams, and our staff and teams are not often located in the same geographical area. Asana is a solution some are using to connect virtually on large projects or processes without scheduling calls, writing emails, or increasing travel.
  • Real-time collaboration. There have been many times our team has been working on a project and we're all signed into Asana at the same time. To be able to make changes, shift timelines, assign tasks, etc. and see those edits immediately is incredibly helpful. Additionally, the notifications one receives after a change has been made are almost immediate, allowing users to keep tabs on what's changing in their projects.
  • Can be engineered to be process driven. I can set-up a project using headers and sub-tasks that easily allows me to move a task from one section to another. For example, I produce a podcast. I'm able to move a potential interviewee through the research, contact, interview schedule, recording, and release simply by dragging and dropping the task. At any moment's notice, I (and my manager) can see where we are in the process. That saves time and back and forth.
  • Cuts down on email traffic. The built in chat/comments function, like buttons, and notifications helps me keep tabs on projects without filtering through my email. As the project manager for my team, I'm always signed into Asana. With the real-time edits that can happen, I don't have to ask my team to email me when they've changed something. I just see it.
  • No native app that compares project timelines or produces a calendar. I'd love to see Gantt charts incorporated directly into the interface (though you CAN link your projects to a beta version of Instagantt). Whenever I want to see an overarching view of what my team has on its plate (or what i have on my To Do list), I can't get it. That can get frustrating, especially when planning future capacity.
  • No link to share with people not on Asana. Sometimes, I just need to let people outside of my team know how a project will be run. That's not possible without me inviting them to the project and giving them access to change tasks, make edits, etc. When a project needs to stay proprietary and you just need to inform others of due dates and process, Asana doesn't support sending a read-only version of the plan to those outside the network.
  • Completed tasks are automatically archived. When I'm done with a task, I want it out of my view (but don't want it deleted in case I need to review the process to repeat it again). In Asana, the tasks stay in your view - though grayed out - until you archive them yourself. Just a step that doesn't need to happen for most people.
  • Free version is limited significantly in some ways, especially in making projects private only to your team.
  • On a team level, we've operated much more efficiently in planning large projects using Asana. We have a regular production schedule on our team in which everyone is involved, and it gives an instant view into what's done, what we need to do, and potential risks and time constraints along the way. Our manager can see at a moment's notice where we are in the process. Less talking with manager = more time for him to develop strategy and more time for us to do work.
  • On a personal level, Asana has provided me a space (though not perfect) to organize my To Do list for work tasks. It's always open in my browser, the mobile app allows me to add tasks on the go, and I can plan ahead fairly easily.
We tested a few different solutions when our team was looking to become more efficient. A lot of the software out there is more brainstorming-focused, and that's just not how we operate when it comes to process. Though our work definitely has a lot of creative pieces to it, we prefer to mind-map on white boards, not in a web interface. Asana had the perfect mix of being able to collaborate remotely while also featuring a lot of process-driven tools.
We don't currently pay for Asana, so renewal is a moot point for us. I could stop using it at any point and move to something else. At this time, I don't see that happening.
Really, you just need to understand how someone plans projects. Asana works for me because it's very process driven. I'm not a brainstorming or mind-mapping kind of guy, so Trello and other project management platforms just don't work with my style. Asana is well-suited for personal To Do lists, tasks that need to move through a certain cadence (a la my podcast example), and large projects that require involvement from many people on YOUR OWN team. It is not suited (at least the free version) for projects that span across different teams or for brainstorming-type sessions and less clear projects.