Asana Review – Is It Good Enough?
Asana is one of the world’s best-known tools for working together. While it lacks the structure of a tool like Basecamp, it does offer excellent task management and an impressive array of integrations that let you customize it to suit your own needs.
Designed for collaboration over project management, Asana is a solid choice for small teams that need minimal, but effective, project and task management. For teams that already have many of their needs covered by their existing tools, Asana can supply a well-connected project management experience with tons of integrations and a quick learning curve.
We’ve broken down exactly what Asana offers, and who stands to benefit most from using it.
Asana offers readymade project templates, which can be private or shared with a group. Once created, projects can be customized, with due dates for deliverables, and viewed as kanban boards, lists, timelines, or calendars.
The interface is simple, especially for a project management tool. Endless dropdowns are replaced by an interface that’s intuitive and slick. If you’ve never used Asana before, there’s an “Asana basic training” project template to walk you through it — but most people probably won’t need it. Getting Asana’s basics up and running is genuinely easy.
You can communicate through Asana’s internal messaging system, share files, and plug a ton of other tools into Asana to supplement the effective (but basic) toolkit that’s already there.
Asana pricing and plans
Asana is free for up to 15 people, though with some restrictions on features. While some of Asana’s best features are restricted in the free version, integrations aren’t, meaning you can plug Google Drive and Office 365, Slack and Salesforce, Tray.io and Everhour, and a ton of other applications into Asana even if you’re not paying a penny for the app.
Here’s how the plans break down:
- Free for up to 15 users
- Task management
- List, board, and calendar views
- Assign tasks and set due dates
- Integrations from the Asana App Directory
- $10.99 per month per user (annual billing) or $13.49 (billed monthly)
- Timeline view
- Forms for teams to communicate and provide feedback
- Rules for tasks
- Admin console
- Private teams and projects
- Advanced search and reporting
- Unlimited free guests
- $24.99 per month per user (annual billing) or $30.49 (billed monthly)
- All Premium features
- Portfolios group projects together
- Workload lets you allocate workload among team members
- Custom rules builder lets you customize rules
- Proofing lets you create tasks from annotations on images
- Lock custom fields
- Advanced integrations with key tools like Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud, Tableau and Power BI
- Custom pricing
- All Business features
- SAML authentication
- SCIM user provisioning and de-provisioning
- Data export and deletion
- Block native integrations
- Custom branding
- Priority support
Asana key features
- Manage an unlimited number of projects, with due dates and subtasks
- Assign tasks and projects
- Create projects for specific teams (Premium, Business, and Enterprise)
- Designed for collaboration, with an internal messaging system
- Managed inbox for messages
- Tag other users on projects
- Track deadlines through calendar and timeline view
- Attach files to tasks from Dropbox, Drive, OneDrive, Box, or your computer
- Annotate images and tasks
- Track project completion with progress view
- Project and task templates
- Monitor work in real time with Insights (Premium, Business, and Enterprise)
- Get info from teams with Forms (Premium, Business, and Enterprise)
- Manage, monitor, create, assign and prioritize projects with Portfolio (Business and Enterprise)
- Leave specific, actionable feedback on images, and turn it into tasks, with Proofing (Business and Enterprise)
What makes Asana different?
Asana stands out for what it does well, and for what it doesn’t try to do. Its interface is extremely simple and intuitive, allowing small to midsize teams to start handling their work immediately. At the same time, it doesn’t try to be all things to all users. Instead, it offers the capacity to endlessly customize its functionality through a library of integrations.
For some teams, this freeform approach won’t make sense: Asana’s basic toolkit will be too small, while they won’t already have a large stack to integrate. For a full-featured project management app that stands alone, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. But for some teams, the ability to plug Asana into all the tools they’re already using will be a boon.
Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of using Asana.
Probably Asana’s biggest pro: it’s really, really easy to use. Signing up is quick and simple — enter your email and you’re away — and its onboarding flow matches you with a core toolset for your needs. Once you’re in, basic features are easy to find, there’s documentation attached to templates, and everything from visual organization to messaging is built to be easy to use.
Asana’s personal dashboard is at the center of users’ ability to organize their own work. You can filter tasks and projects by any keyword or due date, and even set those filters as your default view.
That lets users narrow down the focus of their Asana experience to the material that’s relevant to them. There’s a “My Tasks” button in the main menu, and those tasks can be sorted too.
Asana really shines as a task management tool. Tasks can be nested, and there’s no limit to how deeply this can be done. That gives users a lot of leeway, though it does leave the onus on users to manage the process, to prevent it from becoming hard to navigate.
The timeline view makes task management visual, letting users drag dependent tasks into position.
Security and privacy
Asana is SOC 2 Type 2 compliant, which means it’s been audited by a third party for security. It also has a bug bounty program.
Asana is also General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)- compliant, but only for those users covered by the regulations — if you’re a US, customer, your data won’t be managed in a GDPR-compliant manner, for instance.
Asana has a ton of readymade integrations with all the major players in spaces like CRM, productivity, and image manipulation, as well as business intelligence. There’s even a Zapier integration if you think Asana doesn’t have enough integrations by itself. Its advanced integrations are available only to Business and Enterprise users.
Asana has better-that-average support, with a frequently-updated forum and a full selection of “courses” — video tutorials that walk you through everything you need to know to do specific things with Asana. There’s an unusually complete, detailed, and accurate knowledge base too.
Asana has come in for criticism in the past for poor support for data exporting. That’s changed slightly now, with a new feature that lets you export from Asana as a CSV and work with it in Sheets or Excel. (You’ll find this option in the Project Actions menu as Export>CSV.)
But Asana’s range of export is still limited. And while data is easy to sort through while it’s inside Asana — and it’s easy to pipe it around from one tool to another with integrations — if you want it all in front of you, a CSV is the best that’s on offer — for now.
Asana has solid support, but actually submitting a ticket to their support team is difficult and complex. To submit a ticket you have to navigate Asana’s self-help system for your issue — and some results bounce you back into a circular one-way system of self-serve support instead of ever delivering you to somewhere you can contact a human support agent.
Integrations: the price tag
The integrations-dependent model comes with a hidden price tag that can mean Asana winds up more expensive in action than on paper. While Asana’s integrations don’t cost anything on Asana’s end, the apps they connect with often do.
If you already have an extensive tech stack, that’s fine. You’re paying for those apps already. But if you don’t, and you need a full-featured tool, some of those features might have to be found — and paid for — from third parties.
Ultimately, here’s what we recommend
Should you use it?
Asana is an easy tool to use: user-friendly, collaboration-centric, and well-supported inside the app and through a knowledge base. It’s not a big, full-featured project management tool like Basecamp, even though it’s often mentioned in the same breath. It’s perhaps best thought of as “project management for teams that really do something else,” or “just enough project management to get the job done.”
Who should use Asana?
Asana is a truly great application for smaller businesses that need a simple-but-effective project management tool that foregrounds collaboration. And if you already have a large, efficient stack set up, and project and task management is the missing puzzle piece, Asana might be a great fit for you.
Who should use something else?
Teams that need a full-featured, highly-structured project management application can turn Asana into one — but only by “building their own” out of integrations. And the most attractive features are available only in Asana’s relatively-expensive Business plan. If this is you, it makes more sense to just pick a more comprehensive tool from the start.