Asana Review: Checklist on Steroids

With 1 out of 5 startups using Asana, it's one of the most popular project management and productivity tools among startups. The driving force behind its inception in 2008 was actually the productivity needs on teams at Facebook. Ipso facto, use Asana and achieve wild success.

Asana: move work forward

“Asana is amazing! I can’t live without Asana ... It’s a really good to-do list. It allows you to collaborate really easily for attachments and notifications. I love their UX. Some people think it’s messy but once you get used to it and get the hang of it, it’s really good.”

       - Holly Cardew, Founder & CEO of Pixc

Think: checklist on steroids. Asana is an intuitive to-do list based on a very user friendly dashboard. It's easy to see all that's on your plate at once with easy access to the calendar, conversations, the file hub and a progress tracker. Unlike other leaders in the project management space, Asana makes it easy to view various at objects at once, like a full checklist alongside the view of one of the tasks in that checklist.

The calendar gives a great way to have a view of any events or important due dates for projects. However, some may not like it’s UI. Jeremy Bluvol, the Co-founder of Bauxy says:

“Asana is pretty awesome. It’s great for task lists, but for creating a roadmap, it's very challenging since everything is in a list format. The calendar view is an option, but its UI isn’t too great.”

Conversations are where you can instant message with your teammates if you didn’t want to comment on task threads, or you were looking for a quicker response.

The File Hub makes for an easy way to find and download any shared files on a project.

The Progress Tracker is one of Asana’s cooler features. It’s a visual representation of the amount of tasks that get added and the number of tasks getting done over time for your projects. It’s a nice visual of how fast things are getting done, or noticing if there are any roadblocks or less productive days.

Asana has a much more modern UI than Trello, whereas Trello has a more simple, minimal interface (although Asana did release a card feature very similar to Trello back in November 2016).

Asana also makes it easy to interact with your checklist via email. You can launch a task by simply emailing [email protected] The subject line becomes the name of the task, the body of the email is the task description. You can CC teammates on the email to add them as followers to the task.

Notifications/Project Tracking

Asana alerts you via email when there are updates on any of the work tasks you are following. You can also see all the activity in your Asana Inbox.

Asana’s Progress Tracker is a nice visual graph to get a quick view of the progress of the project and to see how many things are getting completed.

 

Integrations

Asana offers a number of integrations with popular services and products. If you can’t find the Asana integration you need, Asana has an open API for you to develop your integrations.

Asana also has easy integrations with several apps through Zapier, letting you get updates and information from tools like MailChimp, Evernote and more. Ravi Kurani, the Co-founder of Sutro uses Zapier and Asana to handle support tickets:

“Support tickets come into Gmail, get filtered through Zapier, and are automatically put into a project in Asana. Then we go through and filter further, and assign, in Asana.”

 

Mobile

“We tried all of the project management tools. We’ve tried Basecamp, Trello, and Asana--of the three, Asana had the best mobile experience.”

- Jeff Brenner, Co-founder & CEO of Pressly

The Asana app is very clean. It offers most of the features that you can find on their web client. You can organize your tasks by Completed, Incomplete, All, and by Due Date. The web client offers more viewing options, but the ones offered on mobile do the job.

Asana’s list view makes for a very mobile-friendly way to see all of your tasks.

Scalability

“Asana requires a lot of effort to start up, but once you get going, it's very good. When we were early stage, it was one of the few tools that was free for a 10-person team*, so that got our attention, as well as the fact that it allows you to do project management, CRM, and pipeline management. It is definitely a tool that we will continue to use as we grow, even though you start paying once you hit 10 employees.”

*Asana’s free plan now supports up to 15 members

- John Papadakis, Founder & CEO of Pollfish

Asana has more features that make it more scalable. Alongside the various integrations Asana has, it can scale with you very well as your business grows. The calendar, conversations, and progress tracking features will help you keep your team organized as they grow. By starting off with Asana and getting your team to use it diligently, you’ll be able to teach and have new team members on the platform and using it as their guide for tasks.

Asana has been noted to be more scaleable to other project management tools by founders. Mike Molinet, the Co-founder & COO of Branch uses it at his company.

“We use Asana all the time... And we used Trello when we had about 4 people, but it didn’t scale well for us because of the increasing complexity of our projects and team.”

Asana ended up scaling better for Mike as Branch expanded from a small person team of 4 to a team of over 50 as they’ve grown.

 

Pricing

The Asana free plan supports up to 15 team members, and then Asana’s premium plan is $8.33 per user/per month. The upgraded plan gives you access to unlimited team members and dashboards, better privacy options, priority support, advanced search options and more.

The Enterprise plan has a bunch of Enterprise-y features that deal with security, data exporting and back-ups. Alongside some of their other Enterprise features, they’re also looking to add custom branding options for Enterprise customers.

 

Common Complaints

“We used Asana in the past, but organizing it took a lot more time than we had to spare. It was frustrating to use, and felt like you could do too many things with it.”

- Shan Lian, Marketing Manager at Shippo

 Asana has a wide variety of features that make it great for both teams and individuals. However, the interface and the variety of features can be confusing or intimidating for some who are looking for an easy way to quickly organize tasks and assign them to team members.

Some users also weren’t fans of the list display of tasks, and prefer a more visual way of looking at tasks more similar to Kanban boards.


Closing Thoughts

"We used to use Trello, but we switched to Asana. We found it more flexible, powerful, and easy to use. We prefer Asana’s search functionality as well as its UI of ticking a checkmark as opposed to moving a card as you can retain the order more easily."

- Henry Xie, Co-founder of Simple Fractal

Asana is a great tool for teams who prefer a checklist format as opposed to Kanban boards. With a modern UI, Asana becomes an enjoyable project management hub for startups. 

Alternatives to Asana

Asana, Trello and Basecamp are the most popular project management tools among startups. We took a close look at each one to help startups figure out which tool is best for them; you can find our reviews on Trello here and Basecamp here!

We also created this infographic comparing all three!