Let’s think of a familiar situation in task management: have you ever launched an important project, but realized just afterwards that you didn’t have all necessary documents to complete it? What’s more, how often does it happen to you to do double work because you weren’t really clear on what the client wanted? In moments like these, one realizes task management is not only about scheduling and assigning, but often about coordination. By coordination, we don’t simply mean letting the client know what is up, but also allowing him to track progress himself.
For a long time, Asana has pleased business owners with an impeccable tracking functionality. It was designed with the idea to secure a neat and private coordination environment where managers can plan service delivery, but grew to be a powerful system where clients can track the progress of those services. Most of these benefits can be ascribed to the Asana dependencies and custom fields, making it possible to track even the tiniest particles of the project.
According to the company’s co-founder Justin Rosenstein, Asana needed this feature in order to respond to diverse user needs, and to become a day-to-day tracker instead of a project-specific app. The makeover process targeted bigger and more complex businesses in need of extra customization, at the end of which they got the ability to set up and sort the necessary data for all of their projects.
Take recruitment managers as an example: they can fully track candidatures, and examine the actual suitability of those attending interviews for various projects. A fine-grained chain of controls allows the administrator to restrict access to that information to himself, or some of the full team members that have a say on the final decision. It is exactly full team members that are entitled to create/alter custom fields in every situation.
Some administrators may mind being in charge of regimentation, but there is nothing to worry about it because Asana is already looking for a way to streamline control without taking it away from managers’ hands. To start with, they will standardize field naming, and maybe categorize fields by purposes. Knowing how much this deviates from the company’s original vision of the product, one would be jaw dropped and acknowledge that Asana genuinely learns from its customers.
A plan that is approaching and seems way more realistic is templates, from where users can make Asana work in every scenario. Doing so reveals an admirable understanding of what custom fields are all about, and how those can be used to boost productivity. Long story short, Asana dependencies and custom fields make the app intense and responsive, as well as usable for many more businesses.
When custom fields were first introduced, managers got selective about information and planned tasks their way, but a problem remained: most of the information still needed to be delivered by someone else, and the manager could hardly make any predictions on when the project would be completed.
How did Asana solve this problem? The company designed a new feature called Dependencies, one which eliminates the serious team project management problem: the need to wait for someone else to complete their work so that you can start with your part. If you’re a designer, for instance, you can push through a final layout for the client without having to wait for the marketer to ‘polish’ the copy with images and ads (ideally, the marketer would have done it long ago, the very same moment it was assigned to him in the system). Dependencies are a continuation of the relevancy campaign Asana organized to fit with enterprise-grade businesses, and we dare say – the most successful one.
The coolest moment of it all is probably how the client gets to track the status of his demands. While he is waiting for a new piece to be delivered to him, he follows a timeline of tasks and assigned people to see all obstacles have been cleared; and gets notified once his product is ready-to-go. As Rosenstein explains, it is this approach that lets Asana make businesses more professional and reliable.
The tracking idea occurred to Asana team a long time ago, originally to enable users to track the progress of other users, and notify each other about particular tasks, ad hoc changes, comments, prolongation of dates, and much more. Dependencies, on the other hand, are related to pre-defined stages in project management and classify those as open and closed as the project improves. Luckily, the user has a vast array of custom fields to make those Dependencies more specific.
A handy feature in this case are access controls and the regimenting power given to managers to enclose/disclose project information. If the project is public, and thus available for all users, beneficiaries, and third parties, access will be open, and notifications will be unified for everyone who’s ever tracked that project down. If the project is private, on the other hand, entitled users will mark Dependencies the way they want them, and could easily keep the whole thing a secret even for co-workers.
It took Asana roughly $50 million of venture capital funding to go as deep into tracking as it did, but that certainly had a positive effect on its customer base. All that paired with the reasonable Asana cost make more and more prominent brands worldwide become Asana users.
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