I’ve created a simple job map for leading an improvement project. You’ll note that it’s pretty high-level in that I don’t get into the actual process of identifying problems, developing hypotheses, testing them, etc., etc. This is more about the in-between parts that involve the development of a team, and subsequent collaboration in order to complete the project (not the work plan).
While this is a quick a dirty evaluation, I was able to think about each of these along dimensions of speed, stability, and output to decide how much improvement I’ve made at each step by using Asana.
Clearly, in my opinion Asana has got a long way to go; which is disappointing for a product that is around 7 years old. I’m not claiming this is the perfect job map; but I do know that there are a number of related jobs that Asana can’t help me with at all. The best thing I can say is that the product is essentially free. Upgrading doesn’t seem to solve any of the challenges I outline below.
I’m not going to write a long analysis here since I feel like I need to do some deeper investigation into desired outcomes, and get a few more cycles with it in this context — I may have missed some things. But I will summarize my opinion here.
- It does nothing to help me identify or organize facts around the problem I’m investigating. It requires me to build an approach into the platform. Fine, I can do that. However, it then is not able to put the storyboard together in a simple, compact way in order to share the approach and/or lessons learned with future project teams. The pieces are scattered and buried.
- I does nothing to establish roles for a project, and then facilitate the location and selection ofappropriate, and available resources for the project. It has a field in my profile called Role; but it appears to be an Account role, not a project role
- There are work-arounds that allow me to manage project meetings as projects. Since I can assign a task to multiple projects, and a section within each project, I can easily include a task from a project in the meeting project along with meeting specific tasks (like agenda items). While this is interesting, given the importance of meetings and communications, Asana could do a lot more work streamlining the process of setting up meetings even if the under-pinnings remain the same.
- It’s pretty good at helping me create a work plan, and then monitoring the work being done against tasks. Is it better than other cloud-based platforms? It’s free.
- Since it’s cloud-based, I can monitor progress in a number of contexts. However, it’s extremely basic, and I still need to drill down to see sub-task progress. There is no dependency built into these in the free version (and not sure how good the “waiting for” feature is in the paid version). Basically, the reporting in this product is not that great — although there are some integrations that attempt to fix that.
- Does it help me to communicate with clients outside of meetings? To think I can get 100% adoption from client stakeholders to interface with Asana would be naive. I can’t even get team mates to do that LOL! Could they provide some ability to quickly construct a status report? Of course they could; but they are not there yet — nor are their integration partners in my opinion.
- One of the critical steps that needs to be done upon completing a project is storing your project documentation. At first glance, I would think “hey, it’s all right in the project!” However, only the project team has access to it. I’m not sure there is a good way to share critical information with the broader team or organization. This becomes a problem as you try to leverage lessons learned for future projects — possibly executed by different teams.
Bottom line — I think Asana has a long way to go. I don’t like burdensome and constraining project management solutions either. They tend to focus on waterfall or scrum interfaces; but don’t focus so much on the administrative side of things — or the project as a process. If Asana could just get the neglected side of PM addressed in a simple and consumable way, they will do themselves a huge favor.