The challenge developers battle when building effective, productive task and project management applications is avoiding complexity while delivering useful tools. Basecamp cofounders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson note the challenge in their bestselling book Rework, in which they recommend embracing constraints and remembering less is a good thing and simplicity adds value. They should know—they built the popular Basecamp project management and Highrise customer relationship management programs.
SEE: Quick glossary: Project management (Tech Pro Research)
Fortunately, Asana's learned the same lesson. The company has refined its web- and iOS-based app to help meet business users' need for a flexible and customizable software tool that accommodates team collaboration, calendaring, and tracking a variety of activities, responsibilities, tasks, and projects, including as such elements change throughout their lifecycle within a typical professional environment. For example, the Asana app (Figure A) assists building workflows, visualizing projects, tracking milestones, converting repeating processes to templates, and organizing communication.
While I suspect most business users will be best-served using the program's premium features, which add priority support, unlimited team members, custom fields, task dependencies, private teams and projects, start dates, and administrative controls, a free version is available. Obviously, the free version is helpful if you wish to try the platform's capabilities without committing, but know that the tool's true value kicks in with the use of the premium features.
An Enterprise version, which adds advanced administrative controls, specialized support, and enhanced user provisioning, is also available. The Enterprise upgrade offers some branding elements that may prove important to some firms.
At $9.99 per member per month when billed annually, I've found Asana Premium a helpful tool that strikes just the right balance of marrying myriad task management responsibilities, including personal and team-based tasks, and collaboration and calendaring features. With support for more than 100 integrated apps, including Google Chrome, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Microsoft Office 365, and Google Forms, among others, Asana proves scalable. Support for such a wide variety of apps likely enables quickly integrating Asana with many of your organization's other existing solutions.
Thankfully, if all you need are potent task, project management, collaboration, and calendaring features, no additional third-party add-ons are required. Premium Asana accounts include BLANK storage, so it's easy to begin collecting all related activities, including messages, responses, documents and files, calendaring, and even reporting capabilities directly within a single solution. The cloud-based platform works well with Safari, as well as Microsoft Edge, so there are no cross-platform worries.
SEE: How to build a successful project manager career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Better yet, the corresponding iOS app (Figure B) smartly extends Asana's functionality to the tap-and-swipe gestures that are so popular on iPhones and iPads. Using such common gestures, the iPhone and iPad apps make it easy to review and archive Inbox messages, assign tasks, set due dates, view projects, track and manage calendar items, and administer the Asana account, such as by adding new users while on the go.
- Project management tips: Five ways to keep your project and your team on target (ZDNet)
- Comparison chart: Enterprise collaboration tools (Tech Pro Research)
- Video: 5 free project management software solutions (TechRepublic)
- Asana exercises its mobile strategy (TechRepublic)
- Seven important Asana integrations for project teams (TechRepublic)
- The five best Mac task management apps (TechRepublic)
- Box: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.