😩 Stop trying to connect Slack and Asana

As an introduction, I’d like to start by saying that I equally love Slack and Asana. I believe they are game-changers compared to previous solutions (like email). I also believe things can go really wrong if they aren’t used properly. My personal position, which is quite controversial: do not connect Slack and Asana in any way!

Here a couple of scenarios to illustrate my point.

:asterisk: « I want to be able to create tasks very quickly from Slack »

That’s because you spend your day in Slack and have the app opened all day when you should spend your day in Asana and also have that app opened! And when you start allowing people to create tasks from Slack, you end up with half-baked tasks made only of a title, no description, no attachment, no comments. People will start to throw tasks at each other rather than collaborating.

:asterisk: « My boss doesn’t want to go to Asana, he wants to get notified in Slack »

What your boss is basically saying is that it’s ok not to use Asana. They are giving the wrong example and I would not be surprised you have adoption problems because the leader does not show the right example! Slack is a glorified chat, not a work management tool.

:asterisk: « I want project updates to be posted to the project Slack channel »

Great, now you get the same notifications in Slack and in Asana. And god forbid if you kept the Asana emails notifications on, you get them in Inbox and email. Stop the madness. Remove all notifications published to Slack, and teach people how to use Inbox! Otherwise, they’ll be reading only one source of notifications, the ones from the shiny Slack, and you’ll quickly find yourself with people not answering questions or doing work that is only published in Asana.

:asterisk: « People keep talking about tasks in Slack and they don’t use Asana. »

What. A. Surprise. You did everything you could so that people could do their work from Slack and now you complain they don’t go to Asana? You are slowly destroying the benefits of Asana: just like with emails, people are slowly going back to discussions mixing several topics, assigning tasks just by telling someone to do something, information gets lost, and clarity is thrown out of the window.

So, what should you do?

:one: Make the rules clear: Asana is for work around specific tasks. Slack is for both informal chat and higher-level discussions. Notifications about tasks are to be read from Asana, specifically from the Inbox.

:two: Put together a fun but strict Slack police force: they will be responsible for enforcing, in a nice and fun way, the rules above. When people say « could you do this? » in Slack, they will remind them to rephrase « could you do this? If yes, I’ll assign you a task right away ». When someone asks « what’s the status of project ABC or task XYZ » they will gently remind them that they need to do that extra effort to check it out themselves in Asana rather than expecting others to summarize for them.

:three: Remind everyone that we don’t throw half-baked tasks at each other. A name is not a task. A task is made of a name, a description, a due date, and often a nice comment along with it.

Conclusion: moving away from Slack is haaaaaaaaard. So hard. But it is worth it. Why do we like Slack so much? For me, 2 reasons: it is shiny (with colors and emojis) and it is instantaneous. Bring the shiny in Asana by using emojis and colors (properly). And stop believing everything needs to happen instantly: adopt a slower pace with Asana…

31 Likes

Really, really excellent post IMO, @Bastien_Siebman.

Controversial for sure, but very well argued. I came to the post ready to read it and find aspects of it to disagree with, but I didn’t find even one - I agree with every point!

6 Likes

I thought and feel the same way as @Phil_Seeman. I’m on Team @Bastien_Siebman :100:

Know your comms tech stack and stick to it!

Teams (only use Slack for Asana Together, Teams for work) - throwaway communication
Asana - actionable communication
Outlook - external communication / siloed internal communication

3 Likes

Thanks guys, I am waiting for a wave of disagreement from the community :surfing_man:

4 Likes

I laughed when I read “What. A. Surprise.” I feel sometimes that I’m bending over backwards trying to make people comfortable with Asana by meeting them where they are → Slack. But that means no one is getting comfortable in Asana or Asana Inbox. I think a tough conversation is in my future… Thanks for the article!

6 Likes

I completely agree @Bastien_Siebman! I also recommend against integrating the two.

2 Likes

We have the integration on only to be able to create Asana tasks from Slack, but it’s randomly used. Not too big of a deal, and sometimes it’s useful.
When to use Slack and when to use Asana… it’s explained in our Asana Conventions.

2 Likes

Thanks for the testimonial Ignacio. Do people create tasks from Slack for themselves only, or also for others?

1000% All off above!

We really enjoy and heavily use the Slack/Asana integration. So, if you end up having a robust discussion in Slack it’s easy to turn it into an Asana task with person/date/project. (we don’t do the slack notification for Asana tasks and projects)

Problem solved… for us!

1 Like

So you really manage to have people discuss in Slack and then report their decisions and notes into Asana? Impressive! :clap:

Yes :smile:
For us, it’s very clear who owns decision-making in different spheres/roles as we operate using Holacracy. We don’t make decisions based on consensus, of course, insight is sought and given freely.

When we have a Slack discussion making an Asana using the integration for the decision-maker “FYI check out topic X insight” or “Read Article on ML” that was shared in our #all_reading channel is a fluid extension of the sharing/delegating that already exists.

Now, if a discussion becomes long and more heated we try to move those to Asana as a Conversation/Messages/Team for the relevant project/role/team. This is because we only use Slack for quick communication and try to keep long-form discussions in Asana where the tasks related to that work actually exist (plus we delete our Slack history after 179 days for privacy reasons)

Another way we use Slack + Asana is to reference the slack URL in the Asana task to provide the context needed for completion.

Key in all this is leaving your ego at the door, and embracing that good ideas can come from anywhere. As such, an Asana task from a random Slack conversation made by an equally random team member just might change your week!

1 Like

Integrations provide choice. And for providing choice to my team and peers is important. Not everyone works the same, and for instances where I’ve no interest in micro managing and or being strict on the specifics of a process, totally happy for my team to execute as they see fit or they feel is most beneficial, as long as the output of that choice (In this scenario, Project and Task creation in Asana) contains the relevant detail and quality.

Think in the majority of our userbase they use Asana directly. Some will absolutely use an integration to say like Teams in order to create tasks, or use Task cards as an agenda for a quick meet. We also have some milestones posted to a teams channels. Again, just about choice. I know and they all know they have Inbox, but they might just want to use Teams. I know Inbox wasn’t and still isn’t something I use or value much in Asana, but that is probably down to the culture aspect of our teams not using Asana for communication or conversations, and that I get just get huge spam in there on tasks or projects I’ve no real interest in.

You make some good points, but I think it’s always important to offer the choice. At the end of the day confidence in your platform or your designs should make you confident people will look for bigger adoption and transfer of things like conversations and task discussion out of other areas and into Asana. But that comes with quality designs, features and performance that makes it a no brainer for users to switch or to gravitate towards it.

Agreed, I just feel like many people are just bad at managing their own tasks and following rules, so not offering a choice is a way to make sure things stay on track. I have no doubt many companies are fine with Slack and Asana, but I’d say more than half struggle because people tend to use Slack way more than they should compared to Asana. Thanks for sharing your point of view!

1 Like

Yeah I used to have that mindset. I manage some big platforms for a global org.

Problem I’d constantly hit is just people wanting different choices or do it a different way. I’d then have to spend a lot of time or effort, or my teams, organizing workshops and training sessions because as people weren’t following the singular built process, and entire workflow would block or break.

Have found giving options and not worrying about a particular step in a flow, but ensuring the critical components are executed, has reduced workflow blockage and breakdown drastically.

2 Likes

Very interesting thanks, so you basically let people discuss where they want, but you check whether or not they keep Asana up-to-date in that case?

I haven’t been a fan of slack from the start, but I was on a political campaign who used it, and now I appreciate it. I agree, I wouldn’t connect them, the noise is too great for me as is. Interesting topic.

Also, just for the record, I don’t Slack I use Workplace. That’s for communications, quick and dirty Q&A, but Asana is for work. Tasks, Projects. End of story! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Slack is awesome, as I said in the intro, I love it! :heart:

I found this post really validating! Thanks for putting these thoughts down. I’ve been finding that:

  • All integrations have limitations and increasingly I’m finding that programs (Asana/Slack/CRMs/etc.) are getting blurry around their edges - they all do a little bit everything, but not well outside their main purpose/strength - which can be hard to create good, clear conventions around.
  • ^ Further to that, I find the one use of the integration I want isn’t there, and I’ve just wasted time/effort trying to make something work that won’t.
  • Seeing notifications in multiple places is annoying and ultimately means that I/others ignore notifications, which is NOT the desired result.
  • If we let people know these integrations exist, give them the info on strengths/limitations, but do not enforce or suggest they use it, they will use it if it suits their work, and not if it doesn’t.
3 Likes

Controversial yes - but I tend to agree.
We have only found one use case for the integration that does not defeat the purpose of one or that other - Critical Deadline reminders!
As a training organisation, we manage our assessment marking process through ASANA and have a simple rule setup against the student record to shoot out a reminder to the team Slack channel 7 days out from the deadline “Hey - someone is still waiting on us!” - it’s been a HUGE game changer!
We are seeing reduced timeframes to complete marking AND increased student satisfaction - a win all-round I’d say :partying_face:

Note: Obviously we don’t do it for all due dates… that would defeat the purpose of ASANA entirely.

2 Likes

@K_Taylor great use case!