Our first year with Asana

Hello People!

Welcome to The Cobalt Partners blog on Medium. As a pan-african digital consulting and advisory firm providing business solutions based on design-thinking and technology, we are always looking for innovation that keep us on time, on track and agile-efficient. For the past year, we adopted Asana as our core platform for managing all projects in an attempt to become more time-conscious and apt.

Asana is a collaborative tool for teams

For those who do not know much about Asana, it is a collaborative mobile and web application that allows teams to work together. Wikipedia defines it this way: “Asana is a web based software-as-a-service designed to improve team collaboration. It focuses on allowing users to manage projects and tasks online without the use of email.”

A team on Asana can create virtual workspaces. In each workspace, projects can be created, comprising tasks, subtasks, notes, timelines and attachments. In simpler terms, Asana creates an online working environment that allows anyone to collaborate from anywhere in the world!

That sounds simple enough!

And so after periodic training sessions and about a year in using Asana, we thought to get some feedback on each team members user experience, as it were.

So the Task(since we’re talking about Asana) was :

To describe their experiences using Asana so far:

And the answers were quite interesting.

PROS

A beautiful interface

For what it’s worth, 70% of team members liked the loading page. It’s pretty clear the Asana team has a sense of humour too as it showcases a set of funny scrolling phrases when launching like, “Use hypertext:blow minds”. The Cobalt Team agrees that setting the right tone for work is almost as important as work itself. Thumbs up there Asana!

Perfect for remote work

30% of responses were applauded the project management tool because of how effective it enables remote working. If you know anything about The Cobalt Partners, we are do not maintain the 9-to-5-at-the-physical-office culture. What’s most important is that team members can deliver on tasks within the allocated time while keeping communication lines open on ways to move forward if need be.

“It’s certainly a great tool for remote working. I can update and tag any of my project members in comments pertaining to a particular project whether I am in a bus home or even out to get lunch.” a Cobalt account manager. It goes without saying that Asana is right up our alley in this regard.

A novelty

50% of team members admit that it still an uncommon project management tool in most Africa-based businesses, especially where team collaborations are concerned. Of course since the birth of instant messaging, small and large teams utilise platforms like WhatsApp or Skype groups to keep real time conversations going. However to some significant extent corporate bodies are still as yet to adapt newer tools like Asana that allows integrations of everyday online work applications like Google Drive, Evernote, and Dropbox.

In terms of utilisation, it is certainly the type of application that needs a few training sessions to get a proper hang of. The dashboard shows the teams, sub-teams and projects from where all details, comments notes on each project can be sourced if it’s clicked on. Most Cobalt teams however source whatever information they need for projects when they go to the task button; the section that shows your tasks, task descriptions and due date that is connected to a particular project. It probably means that the Dashboard isn’t serving its purpose sufficiently.

CONS

Not user friendly?

10% of Cobalt users did not feel Asana is not user-friendly. In more detail, users are unable re-edit comments or conversations under a post. There are no creation of folders that would store files shared under projects for pipelines.

No tags for tasks

Related tasks and conversations have no tags and filter to assist users who want to research through archives for some kind of information.

No sense of productivity

This is an interesting one. 20% of users felt a sense of team output and productivity, which is the very essence of Asana, was lacking. Reasons, according to our little in-house survey came from distractions from on-going conversations a user may be following within a workspace, especially when those conversations were not necessarily related to current tasks he or she is pursuing. They also felt the task board could be overwhelming. Other reasons came from the an inability to track time spent on tasks or reminders could slow down productivity. Something Asana needs to think about?

Recurring tasks

Since every team has tasks that may be recurring, Cobalt-ers think Asana should consider having the capacity to create recurring tasks without having to manually type them back into projects.

Well that’s all from the Cobalt Team, we regardless, are proud of how integrated Asana has become in our work process and delivery. It certainly gets better with more practice. Care to share your experience using Asana with us? Let us know!