Otto: A simple resourcing tool for Asana (with Heatmap)

A couple of years ago I posted this about how my digital agency uses Asana to help with our resource management and time planning.

I thought, a few years later, I’d post an update.

We use Asana to plan all of our work here at Fifty Five and Five. Every client project is an Asana project, every deliverable is a task, with subtasks as needed to get stuff done. The team are assigned as needed, and task dates dictate when clients get things. We use custom fields for ‘Estimated hours’ and ‘Actual hours’ to predict and measure time.

We used to use Velocity to build custom graphs on that data. For example a sum of all tasks for a week for a given user. How many hours is that? That sort of thing.

Then Asana launched their Portfolio features, with workloads. But it didn’t really help.

So we built our own solution… Otto. It connects to Asana, and allows you to define teams (of Asana users) and then view their capacity over coming weeks via a heatmap.

Let me show you:

Above you can see a heatmap showing:

  • Teams down the left hand side
  • Time along the top, in weeks (grouped further out)
  • Each cell shows ‘total time / capacity of the team’

The heatmap cycles red/amber/green based on user definable values.

We use a shared Asana project to log holidays, so Otto also takes account of holidays when calculating capacity.

Above you can see how Otto also allows us to dig in the detail of the a team:

  • At the top you can see filters for the team, and the ability to switch between ‘Upcoming tasks’ or ‘Completed tasks’. The time filter allows you to see next week/month/custom (or previous weeks/months/custom for completed tasks)
  • You can then view the team workload per day, or individually
  • We track tasks over time periods, and those that have to be done on a certain date
  • Things live ‘Overdue time’ ‘Free time’ and ‘Holidays’ allow us to make intelligent decisions

You can also dig into a specific person and see their tasks, inside of Otto. But then we quickly point people out to Asana for obvious reasons.

So each week we go over the heatmap, look at the future, dig into teams to see bottlenecks. Basically Otto allows us to easily resource the company. It is quick, easy to visualise, and always synced with Asana.

I’d love people’s feedback. We are considering making Otto available as a standalone SaaS tool.

:question: Who would be interested? :question:


Hi @Chris_Wright,

It’s not relevant for me personally but wanted to comment that it looks and sounds really excellent!

Thanks Phil

Happy to beta test and give some feedback. And to let clients know when this is live.

btw @Phil_Seeman is this the best part of the forum to share this? Thought maybe tips and tricks?

@Chris_Wright This is the right section for a general announcement like this, for sure.

There’s no hard and fast rule but I would say you could mention it in Tips & Tricks in response to a specific thread where someone is asking for a feature or capability that Otto provides. That’s how I manage things with Flowsana.

Chris, this looks great! My agency is doing quite the same and we’ve also built a tool around it. I am quite interested in looking at other solutions - but I doubt that we would switch to another platform because of 2 reasons:

  1. it’s probably hard to include our customizations (we connected a shared outlook mailbox/calendar for vacation-tracking)
  2. we’re too far down the road to switch

But happy to see other people doing this! I’ll keep following here and I’d love for you to get this running as a SaaS tool.

Hi @Chris_Wright and thanks for this interesting update on Asana.
Any updates about Otto availability? When will it be launched on the market?

Thanks in advance

I’m VERY interested @Chris_Wright!

I would be happy to participate in beta testing if/when that is an option.

I’d like to try this out. I manage far too many tasks / projects and people and something like this would be a big help in balancing out workload across different staff & teams.