Many of the Asana users I know face the same question “How does Asana fit in our existing tool set? Which tools can be replaced? Which tool to use for what and how to use them together?”
In this article, I am going to address these questions and answer them. If your team or your company currently has no guideline for these questions or for tool usage, you will find value in this article.
In the beginning, I will describe the situation most companies face currently with their tool set. Afterwards I will explain what kind of challenges arise from this situation and in the end I am going to introduce my framework for your tool set.
Table of Contents
2.1. Multiple tools for the same purpose lead to conflicts within companies and diminishes your efficiency
2.2. People post information in the wrong tool
2.3. Team members do not find the information where they should be
- Action items for you and your team/company
- Key Takeaways
Most companies share a similar picture. They have a bunch of tools for various purposes, but there is usually no one who defined a tool strategy or guideline and explained which tool is for which purposes. Moreover, there is the issue, that there are often different tools for the same purpose, e.g. some of our clients use different task and project management tools for instance Asana, Trello, JIRA, Wunderlist and so on.
So what are the most important issues arising out of this situation.
1. Multiple tools for the same purpose lead to conflicts within companies and diminishes your efficiency
We usually all agree, that if everyone uses the same tool for the same purpose it makes the world a lot easier. For instance, if everyone inside a company uses Slack for quick exchanges it is much easier and efficient, than using Skype for some team members, Google Hangout for some others, WhatsApp for the design team and Slack for your boss. You can never be sure, which conversation started in which tool and where to find the agreed information. During a month you will waste a lot of time just searching for information and the latest conversations. So it is much better to have a guideline in place which says for instance all internal company communication which needs to be quick is done inside Slack.
The same issue applies for email vs. project management tool. It is proven by now that tools like Asana help you a lot to work more effective and efficient within your company than via email. Why? For instance how often do you receive an email with a request for feedback or a certain information, but since the email just mentions this and there are no files or older emails attached you do not know the context and an email back and forth starts. To have a task in Asana with all files attached and all relevant information in the description is much better, if your colleague needs feedback he simply writes a comment and you get notified in your Asana Inbox, having the whole context inside the task.
See a very similar example in the image below.
2. People post information in the wrong tool
If it is not defined what goes into Slack, email or project management tools like Asana, people will post things in the wrong medium. For instance, many people assume that emails are checked almost immediately, remember how often you see these pop-up messages at your colleagues screen “You have one new email from X about ABC” – these pop-ups are a proven distraction and have a very bad influence on your productivity since you are disturbed in your workflow, so disable them.
So when people assume emails are read within a couple of minutes, they send you emails with information like the meeting room has changed or where to meet for lunch in 5 minutes. But if you are a productivity master and you only check your email a couple of times a day in batches, to have undisturbed times of high productivity flow, you will miss it. These kind of urgent things should be communicated on Slack or via phone, because these mediums are usually checked more often.
3. Team members do not find the information where they should be
Due dates, dependencies and assignees for tasks belong in a project management tool to guarantee things are transparent for every stakeholder and they get done in time. If these information are posted inside collaboration tools like Slack/Skype or email, they get lost or it will take minutes to extract these information from a long chat. When was the last time a colleague of you asked “What was the title of that email with the important file again?”
Based on discussions and experiences with several Asana users, I developed the following tool set framework.
The chart has two axes. The vertical axis represents the scope or stakeholders. It starts with your internal communication with your team and goes on with your internal communication within your entire company. On top is the external communication with partners outside of your company.
The horizontal axis is the maximal time it should take you to answer requests. For urgent things it should not take you more than 2 hours, for all other things it can take of course up to a day.
Every team and company should adapt these times of course to their special needs and circumstances.
The coloured bubble around every tool indicates the approximate time spent in the tool and the grey bubble indicates the time spent within the tool before introducing Asana and a tool convention. Of course the time spent within the tool varies from company to company.
In total we have 4 quadrants (if you see both internal cases as one), which I am going to explain now further.
1. The bottom left quadrant is the internal communication within 2 hours.
Here we strongly recommend Slack as tool since it has proven many times that it is more powerful than Skype or Google Hangout. Moreover, it has a great built-in integration with Asana, so you can define which information from Asana shall be sent to Slack and you can even create and comment tasks from Slack.
Example use cases here are to ask where to meet for lunch or if you can shift the upcoming meeting.
The green field is a proxy for the time spent within Slack and the grey field is the time needed before implementing Asana. You spent much less time in Slack because most aspects related to project discussions should be done inside Asana to have full context and make it easier for colleagues to find the information. Moreover, every stakeholder has a much better transparency about who is doing what until when.
2. The top left quadrant is the external communication within 2 hours.
Here we recommend Skype because it is the most used software for these purposes so almost every of your partners should have it and you do not need multiple tools for this. In addition, despite having less features than Slack, the existing features are usually enough for the needs.
Example use case are that an advertisement agency cannot find all images they need for your work request and they ask you to send it to them immediately because otherwise they cannot continue working.
The time spent within Skype also decreases because for some use cases you can use Asana. For instance if you work on a shared project with your advertisement agency you can create a shared project with them inside Asana. You have complete control about privacy and can determine on task and sub-task level which information are shared and guests cannot create teams and custom fields for instance. The benefit is, if you have a shared project, all the next steps with assignees and due dates are transparent for all stakeholders and all important information like links and files are attached.
3. The bottom right quadrant is your team cooperation within one day.
This is the most important quadrant where you should spent most of your work time. Here we strongly recommend to introduce Asana, since it is the most effective team collaboration tool available and adapts best to the needs of every company, team and individual person.
Almost your whole team work organization should happen inside Asana. Of course, it should not replace personal exchanges and meetings at all – if in doubt, that your writings could be taken wrong, go to the other stakeholder in person and maintain a good relationship.
But your next steps and assignees should be collected here in Asana after a meeting for instance. If you agree with the other teams and departments that everyone works within Asana you will also save a lot of time for switching between tools and copying information. Of course, most IT teams will continue working with JIRA and this is also OK. You can use services like Tray.io to easily sync the information between Asana and JIRA, so that everyone can work in the tool he prefers.
Through the introduction of Asana within your team and company all of your employees will save a lot of time spent before in emails and different task management tools, searching for information and asking questions.
Main use cases are your normal day to day work and asking for feedback as well as coordinating projects with other people and teams.
In this quadrant you and your company can save most time when you switch from email to Asana!
4. The top right quadrant is your team cooperation outside of the company within one day.
If it is not urgent most people write an email and this is also OK for people outside of the company.
In this quadrant you can save time when you use shared Asana projects with your external partners like described above for the 2. quadrant.
Action items for you and your team/company
- Define a guideline for which tools to use for what
- Kick-out legacy tools since they cost you time and money
- Agree with necessary stakeholders on a tool guideline
- Introduce Asana with appropriate trainings to your team
- Asana replaces Trello and other task management tools, only the IT department can keep JIRA
- Asana replaces email and Slack/Skype for many use cases
- Since Asana will enable the team to work more effective and efficient, the overall time spent in tools will decrease. This results in more time to get things done!
Thanks for reading!
And as always your feedback is very welcome, just leave a comment below.