Asana is one of the world’s largest task management and project management software platforms for teams. Much like other systems, it allows teams to plan, share and organize their work. Teams can use Asana for a simple to-do list to organize their work.
One reason Asana has been successful in raising money is that their founders come from big name brand tech companies. Asana was founded in 2008 by Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein. Moskovitz was on the original founder team of Facebook and Rosenstein was an early employee at Google.
Before Asana jumped on the scene, there weren’t too many great options for project management. Many of them were way too complex--like Microsoft Project--that only experienced project managers could use. Asana has focused on usability and team collaboration, demystifying the complexities of older project management software systems.
Though Asana has seen successes, will it work as well for your team too?
How does Asana work?
With Asana, business units or different parts of your company are separated into teams. All projects are located within teams and tasks are inserted into Projects. Asana also lets you create “Sections” that give you another level of organization. Tasks are either done or not done which leads some users to use Sections as custom statuses (something ClickUp offers natively). Meaning that if a task is under review or getting feedback, you could create a section that says “Under Review” and then move all of the tasks that meet that status to that section. This leads to more disorganization as individual contributors may set up their sections and projects differently.
On a brighter note, tasks can involve deadlines, tags, subtasks, and semi-rich text.
To help you with updates to your work, an inbox will show you notifications, new assigned tasks and messages from your team and give you a calendar view.
In the free version, users get basic tasks, searches and archives, making it a basic to-do list with up to 15 team members.
In the premium version, users get more advanced features like reporting, start dates, unlimited dashboards and unlimited team members for $7.50 per user per month.
For teams that need more power, the Asana enterprise version gives you priority support, SAML support, and better data security and archiving.
1. Great interface. With recent improvements in the last three to five years, Asana has one of the most distinctive and beautiful user interfaces around.
2. Simple to-do list. If you’re looking for a simple to-do list for your projects, then Asana can help you out there. They have clear-cut tasks with an easy drag-and-drop interface.
3. Great for small teams. Asana works best with three to five users, giving insight into each other’s projects and tasks.
4. Great for prioritizing. Because of Asana’s simplicity, it’s easy to mark items as top priority, especially if the rest are at a normal priority level. This will alert your team that this item needs attention right away.
5. Calendar view. Many people that use Asana really like the calendar view to see where each task and project stands and what’s on deck. This has been enhanced with their new timeline feature that shows how tasks and projects are interrelated, along with more help on making a project schedule.
Where Asana Needs Improvement
But there’s got to be real substance behind the beauty of Asana or what’s the point? And unfortunately this is where Asana falls short, especially for teams looking to consolidate their productivity software tech stack.
1. Hard for whole team to get on board
People have different productivity styles and most tools like Asana can’t accept that. In most organizations, the developers have one team, sales something else, and then your marketing or PR team is using Asana.
But how do you communicate across teams, on something like a go-to market strategy with your developers, product managers and more? You’ll have to resort to more meetings and email...things a project management system is supposed to eliminate.
With a productivity platform like ClickUp, you can have multiple views--such as a list, a board view, or timeline. Team members can view and set up projects the way they want--not how a team miles away from yours decides to set it up. You’ll have flexibility in ClickUp.
2. Limited Feature Set
Just recently, Asana announced project templates--a feature that many other project management tools like ClickUp offer for free. Another new addition? Start dates. This is yet another feature that ClickUp has offered for quite awhile. Their free plan is very limited, keeping teams from realizing their true potential. ClickUp offers way more features in a forever free plan, including project templates, multiple assignees, rich text editing, assigned comments and more features that Asana either doesn’t have or doesn’t offer in their free tier.
3. Where are they going next?
Though their culture is lauded for transparency, it doesn’t bleed over into their products--none of their users know what Asana is going to do next, how it’s going to improve or what features their teams can expect. They won’t publish a product roadmap.
I can understand hiding secrets or big reveals--but what about smaller features or bug fixes? You’ll get nothing from Asana.
Compare that to ClickUp, one of the top Asana alternatives. ClickUp has transparency about what features are next and you can even vote or comment on what features should be prioritized next.
Asana has experienced lots of downtime, impacting how and when projects can get done.
How will you communicate with your team? How will you get the files you need?
How will you make everything okay before the deadline?
It’s important to think about the reliability of your project management software when your work (and possibly career!) depends on it.
5. Behind the Times
Tying this back to their product roadmap, Asana is no longer ahead of the curve, such as when they started with Microsoft Project as their top competition. Now, they are playing catch-up, especially with cutting-edge technology.
“Another opportunity is enhancing the product with contextual intelligence. In a way, that is what Asana is achieving with integrations to apps such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, Gmail and others. Adding A.I. and machine learning features could further enhance its capabilities and take it to the next level,” Raúl Castañón-Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research, told ComputerWorld Magazine in 2017.
6. Is Asana For Serious Work?
Unicorns and dragons flying around? Sometimes it’s hard to get the right tone for work when the tool you’re using doesn’t seem like it means business. Sure, we all like to have fun at work, but there’s also a time to focus...that’s why it’s work.
A lot of users start off with good intentions with Asana, but then realize it doesn’t have the power they need to really manage their work. It turns into just an elaborate system for capturing everyone’s lunch orders.
This hesitancy could lead teams back to Excel or email or even nothing at all. So when considering Asana, ask yourself this: “Is this enough to really make our work stand out?”
Asana makes lots of lists and get accolades, but how do real people and users feel about Asana? Generally pretty good, though there are areas for improvement. Here are some of the common themes:
“It doesn't scale well to large applications. Higher up developers and directors needed a broader spectrum unfortunately.” -- verified review on Capterra
This is difficult because then your whole team can’t get on board with the project management tool...and you’re back to where you were, with users having to log into multiple project management systems to check on all areas of work. Merchant Maverick also noted this in their review, commenting that Asana is a poor choice at the enterprise level.
“This software is really intended more for small, compact organizations, and does not adapt well to companies with a larger scope or multiple departments,” they wrote.
Hard To Manage Documents & Commit
“By default too many emails for team members. Document management can be improved. It will be great if we can deploy code to server from asana.” -- verified review on Capterra.
Not managing documents well? That’s a big drawback, especially when you need review and feedback. ClickUp integrates with Dropbox and Google Drive, plus it gives you thumbnail views of any images stored. ClickUp also has a native Github integration right inside tasks, helping all teams work together.
Not Great for Agile
“It is not 100% adaptable to the agile methodologies (Scrum) and it lacks to be complete in the traditional PM…” -- Verified Review from Software Advice
Once again this gets at the difficulty of using Asana for agile project management, which is one of the fastest growing project management styles today. Though it started primarily as a software development strategy, the uses of agile are taking off and being incorporated in other aspects too. Other tools like JIRA which are built for agile and issue tracking are way too complex for most people to use--only the most devoted users can figure it out. A project management system like ClickUp has customized its Lists and Projects specifically for agile to help with scrum in a board view.
Section 4: Asana Alternatives for Project Management
If you’re frustrated by what Asana offers and need a better option, check out this full breakdown of multiple Asana alternatives. Below are a few options that you may want to consider.
A few of the features that Asana doesn’t have include a multi-task toolbar that allows you to make bulk changes, super rich editing in tasks and descriptions, multiple assignees to a task and even a Chrome extension for screenshots and time tracking. ClickUp also has an amazing mobile web app and can even be used with Alexa and Google Assistant. Wow.
And if you have to stay in Asana for just a little longer, you can integrate with ClickUp for any tasks that your team may start in Asana. For the top Asana alternative, look no further than ClickUp.
Flow has a combination look of lists, kanban boards and timelines to give you a comprehensive view of your work in an easy-to-use interface. It’s a simple snapshot of what’s happening and lacks more powerful features like assigned comments and custom statuses. A strength of Flow is its resource management to adequately balance time for your team members.
Users can review projects and collaborate in real-time for better task management. Trello keeps everyone informed through task lists, activity log, and email notifications to ensure that nothing gets left behind with boards and cards. Trello is often compared to a whiteboard filled with sticky notes, but in digital form.
A drawback to Trello is how lean it is compared to similar tools, meaning you’ll have to have a lot of add-ons to really make it work for you.
4. Monday / Dapulse
Recently Dapulse changed their name to Monday, which subbed out one confusing name for another. But Monday is a very simple tool to learn and understand, giving you a great overview of where things stand from a bird’s eye view. The simple grid-style view of tasks makes Monday work for many teams, and most actions require only a few clicks. Monday has a visual timeline which allows you to see which team member is busy working on which project. It’s dependent on tables, but doesn’t help you keep work in one place--forcing you to use another tool yet again.
Many users come from monday to Asana for an enhanced project management experience. The problem is companies that plan to scale miss the mark and have to change platforms again when Asana's structure fails to grow with them. This problem is the foundation for building ClickUp
Okay, are you ready to switch from Asana? It’s easy to start an import and it will only take about 10 minutes. Here are the exact steps you need to follow to export from Asana into ClickUp.
For even more details, check out this Help Center doc from ClickUp.
1. Create your structure first
Before importing your tasks from Asana, arrange your Teams and Spaces in ClickUp. This will help you stay organized and not lose anything in the process. Here’s how ClickUp is set up and how to set up your hierarchy.
2. Go to settings in ClickUp
From here, select “Import” on the left side and then “Import from Asana.”
3. Import tasks
You’ll see how your instance of Asana maps over to the new structure in ClickUp. You can also import projects and boards from Asana. See how to do that here.
4. Import Users
You can also map over your users from Asana and create new users right inside ClickUp.
Section 6: Conclusion: Will Asana Improve Your Productivity & Project Management?
After reviewing the details about Asana, is it the right choice for you? Asana is a great task management tool with an amazing user experience that delights all who try it. But is it enough to do the job beyond basic task management for a small team? Probably not.
If you’re a fast-growing company that’s concerned about innovation, then Asana won’t be the best fit due to its hidden product roadmap and slow integration of important product features.
If you’re within a larger organization you’ll still be using email and Slack to do most of your communication because it’s difficult to get your whole team on board, or you’ll be switching between multiple project management software systems.
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