How can I use Asana as easily as Facebook?


#1

I’m really struggling with Asana and was hoping someone with more experience could guide me or point me in the right direction. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to make it work for my team, but so far feel like a Facebook Group would get us moving forward faster and easier (though without the many useful Asana features, I know).

I’ve started with just the basic free workspace plan, as I have assembled a team of 7, all from different companies or organizations, to create and plan an annual industry event.

I created a Project for this event (and added all the team members) and then a working outline within that using Tasks (Short-Term, Mid-Term, Long-Term Goals).

The main problem I’m having is that communication is at about zero. If I post under Conversations, no one responds and the post says I am the only follower. Same if I comment on one of the task items. It seems that with every step, I have the uphill battle of getting everyone to see what I just posted so they can comment and then getting them to continue the conversation. Except at every step it seems they are required to follow a conversation in order to be a part of it and get updates to it. Because of this we’ve made zero progress in two months.

I was half joking about the Facebook Group, but at least there, everyone can easily join in a conversation. Or maybe using a Forum/Discussion Board is better? I feel like the learning curve here is maybe too steep for the average user.

Am I missing something that will make this easier? I just want to be able to take my outline step by step and have everyone join in the discussion in a timely way so we can make progress. The other team members are busy with their own businesses, so I don’t want to overload them with constantly having to log-on to check if there’s anything new or get lots of emails each day. But a daily summary would be nice showing all conversations and comments so that people can see the progress and easily contribute. Is there a way to have everyone participate in everything without having to manually add them all to each and every step we take or post we make?


#2

Hi Josh,

Here’s my input on this; others will likely chime in as well.

It sounds like what you’re really wanting for your scenario is a daily digest email that all team members would receive; unfortunately Asana doesn’t current provide that. Not that it helps you for your immediate need but you can vote for that feature here:

You can have members receive notification emails when comments occur on project conversations or on task comments, but I understand you’re concerned that might lead to too many emails. You might want to try that approach and see how your team feels about it. The nice thing about these notification emails is people can reply to them to add to the conversation or task comments, without having to visit that project or task directly in Asana.

For more on project conversations:

For more on task comments:

For a team member to receive project-conversation or task-comment notification emails, they’ll need to make sure they have selected to receive Activity Updates under Email Notifications - this is just a one-time thing for them to set. More on that here:

For people to get notifications on project conversations, make sure to add them as project members, and to set the project’s Member Notification Settings to enable conversation notifications:

For people to get notifications on task comments, they need to be followers of that task. While there’s no way to automatically set all team members to be followers on all tasks, you can multi-select all of the tasks in the project and then set followers for all of those tasks at once. For more on that, and some other relevant discussion, see this forum thread:


#3

Phil, thank you for your input and pointing me to some of the help pages. After reading everything, my understanding is that any comments on a conversation post won’t go to anyone but the original poster unless everyone is mentioned or they all click Follow. Did I understand that correctly?

I understand why the system wouldn’t automatically subscribe everyone to all parts of a conversation (to prevent overwhelm). On the other hand, if we are brainstorming ideas and only two people have commented, how do all the others know there is more to the conversation? It seems to make this work, I would have to constantly add people to every part of the project (tasks, items, conversations, etc.)? Even if the other members get the initial notice that a new conversation or task or comment was posted, if they don’t comment themselves or add themselves as followers, they won’t be able to follow along unless they log-in and view the progress. I feel like I am asking my team members to work too hard to keep up with our project, if I am understanding all this correctly.

The link you included to the other conversation about adding people in bulk as followers is interesting because others seem to feel the same way as I do: that this process is not intuitive and the current features don’t cover the way some of us want or need to work. I tried following the poster’s advice about bulk adding people as followers, but didn’t see any option for that other than adding them as task assignees (and that kind of thing scares people!). And even if I could figure out how to add everyone to everything as followers, it doesn’t seem like this applies to actual discussions around the tasks.


#4

As I understand it, this is the case for Project Conversations but not for task comments. For task comments, all followers of the task should receive notifications of new comments. So, I think you’re better off sticking to task comments as that’s closer to what you want to achieve.

Which leads to…

I made a quick screen recording to illustrate adding bulk followers. What I’m doing in the recording is:

  • Clicking the top task to select it
  • Going to the bottom task and shift-clicking it to select all of the tasks in the list
  • Going to the bottom of the task detail pane and adding a follower
  • I then select two different tasks in the list to show that they both now have the new follower I added, John Wilcox

Here’s the recording:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1l4Fin2aZDt1fKa4j_09OZ72bPBTlS18K


#5

Ah, it just occurred to me you may be using Board-type projects, in which case there’s not currently a way I know of to add bulk followers to tasks. That solution only applies to List-type projects.


#6

@Josh_Coen It sounds like you’re having an issue where everybody has their own non-Asana workflow and you’re trying to introduce something new to them. I have run into a similar issue at my work, and although @Phil_Seeman gave some solutions that will help you get the information to your collaborators, unfortunately there’s no way for Asana to actually make people use it. Your joke about using a Facebook group is exactly this point. Facebook is something that people already use, so the conversation would fit right into their normal activity without any extra effort on their part.

I have a few suggestions, but they depend on how your team is set up and what place you have on the team.

If you are the team’s Manager with authority to require them to implement Asana, and you expect to use Asana going forward, you may want to initiate an Asana on-boarding plan: https://asana.com/guide/team/onboard/change-management-strategy

However, if you’re like me and are not high ranking enough to “make” people adopt a new organization tool, it’s a little more complicated.

If that’s the case, and you still want to use Asana to keep track of the project elements, milestones, and deadlines, just manage the project yourself with no one else participating in Asana. I do this a lot because I like staying organized, but my team isn’t always interested.

Here are some things you can do without asking anyone to use Asana:

  1. Still assign them stuff in Asana, but then remind them of what needs to be done as the deadlines get closer. If that feels weird in your team, then assign the task to yourself, but make a tag for each person that needs to do things. This way it shows up in My Tasks, and you can still keep track of who needs to be reminded. You can even view a task list by tag, so you can view each person’s tasks.
  2. When they are done, simply check of the task for them.
  3. Use the email feature for your conversations (https://asana.com/guide/help/conversations/email-conversations). This way people can continue using their email inbox to keep track of the conversation. I would suggest adding the project (or workspace, or even task) email address to the email thread, and then every time someone replies to the thread, it will add a comment to the discussion. I don’t use this feature myself, so there may be some kinks in it (e.g. non-gmail accounts repeating the whole thread history each time clogging the Asana conversation), but hopefully it will help keep the communication going while also using Asana to manage the tasks.

It’s a pain in the butt to have to be the organizer for the team, but if you like the way Asana is set up and you’re the one responsible for the project, it might be the best way to make it happen. If you’re lucky, people who are adaptable with communication and platforms will catch on and that will make it easier.

Hope that helps!


#7

Phil, I am using list-type and your method for bulk-adding everyone as followers seems to have worked for me. Thank you!


#8

Russel, thank you for your ideas and perspective. Yes, being the organizer is not always fun! Your idea of just using Asana for me to keep organized is interesting. Do you mean have the team do their talking on a FB group or something like that and just keep Asana for me? Though I honestly think I won’t use many of Asana’s features, what I had hoped it would work well for is to encourage conversations and discussion around topics as we move through our goals and plan. I thought it would keep topics together, help track our roadmap, and make it easy to brainstorm.


#9

Sorry, posted prematurely! Anyway, unfortunately, I haven’t found Asana to be as intuitive as I hoped. I’ve spent way too much time trying to figure out how best to work some simple features (and I feel I am pretty good technically). So I worry about involving team members who maybe aren’t as savvy and will be completely lost and therefore, won’t use the system. I do like the email conversations feature you mentioned.


#10

Hi Josh, there is a bit of a curve for some users and the only way to get them to change their perspective is for them to see the value.

I have an offshore team and an employee, I thought the offshore team would struggle but they love it. My employee however is not very tech savvy and couldn’t really care. He keeps everything in his head and cringes when he has to use Asana. Although we’re both seeing every aspect of the project there is still the reluctance. :unamused:

Three points:

  1. When in a project click your picture/avatar inside the project and then click notifications. Tick all the boxes and have the others update what they need also.

Add them all as followers to their respective tasks or add them all by clicking the + button down the bottom of the task or comment with @name and you can select them into the tasks.

I rely on email as my notification as the app notification for Asana has burnt me in the past.

  1. Get everyone to use My Tasks in the navigation tray to quickly see their tasks and have them update it weekly with thier progress as a comment or date change.

  2. Save three advanced searches A. “Due in next 7 days” B. “Due in next 14 days” C. “Overdue”. When you have a meeting, screen share and run through these reports only and ask them to update the comments during the meeting with their update or change the date of the task to suit.

It makes for a really quick meeting and as time goes on people will become aware of the progress meeting and update most things before hand.

I hope this helps and isn’t too heavy on features but rather developing the routine for all involved.


#11

Jeffrey, this is a great game plan — thank you. You really pared it down to some simple steps. We haven’t had any meetings yet (that is a challenge on its own), so I hope the system notifies members when there are things assigned to them and then maybe reminds them when the deadlines are looming. My biggest fear is having the project continually stall out because I’m not getting input and participation from everyone. Then I would either have to contact them directly and urge them on, or just turn group decision-making into executive decision-making, which mean much more work for me and a project that lacks diverse ownership.


#12

No issues at all. The success of Asana or any software for that matter has equally as much to do with the functional/physical behaviour of an organisation rather than shiny features.

In your scenario a would highly recommend a physical progress meeting once a week to review everyone’s tasks. From there you can gauge if others are just not doing anything at all and remove whoever you need from the project and re disperse tasks on the fly.

You sound like you have more a case of procrastination from your group rather than a tech issue.


#13

Yes, it does sound like procrastination, but it stems from the tech issues. I can already feel that my group is made of people very busy with their own projects and businesses and that it will be a struggle to get them to give regular input to my project. I thought if I could find a really easy way for them to participate, without the steep learning curve, I would have more success engaging them. So that’s what this last couple of months have been all about — trying to decipher Asana so that I could make it as easy as possible for them. And since I haven’t found things overly intuitive with the Asana system, that is translating to frustration about how I’m going to make any progress with this project. I think you’re right, though, a regular “check-in” meeting is a good idea to keep things moving.


#14

There’s really not that much to decipher, I had my business partner up and running in half an hour. This is why I started to think that maybe it was mass procrastination amongst your team

Would you like to have a chat over Skype/hangouts so I can share my screen and show you through my physical application?


#15

Wow, that’s really nice of you, Jeffrey! Can I put that offer in my back pocket? I’ve made some adjustments based on this thread and want to see if there are improvements. If not, I would love to see how your successful system works. Thank you :grinning:


#16

No problems at all.