Asana: Our Project Management System & CRM

23 Comments

  1. Dan

    Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for this great writeup. I\’m also looking at using asana and instagantt together. Do you have a way to display your gantt chart within your asana dashboard or do you have a second tab open to view it through instagantt\’s site? It is really not ideal having to view projects through 2 different websites.

    I\’d love to hear more about how you use instagantt!

    1. That would be nice if they both integrated into one view, but they don\’t.

      I actually use Fluid to create sudo-standalone apps for each.

    2. Instagantt has become a tool we look at as a team on a weekly basis rather than a daily to do. It really helps in long term planning and scheduling future projects. It\’s also great to take snapshots of the timeline at the beginning of a project – so when a client (inevitably) delays a project it\’s easy to see when, where, and why.

  2. Dan

    I have another pet peeve I\’ll share – in asana I don\’t like how the tasks are not linked to the sections so when you view by due date or calendar you lose the context for the task. Do you have a way you deal with this?

    1. We don\’t really use the Calendar view, possibly for this reason. I also default to the 123 view and sort my day first thing in the morning.

      Context comes from the project, and I\’ll view the tasks from there (individual projects) rather than the Tasks pane – which is just a quick overview of the day for me.

  3. Pete

    Bryan,
    I work in an in-house creative services department where we use asana as our primary PM tool. We don\’t use it so much for collaboration as much as for project listing, progress and tracking. I\’m looking to append asana with instagantt for the timeline view it offers. In the great beyond I hope to push out a dashboard of sorts for the department.
    I relay all this to help make the point that overviews like yours provide a lot of insight gained from experience. So thanks for letting us in the door for a poke around.

    Pete

    1. No problem Pete, glad you found the article useful.

      I really like how flexible Asana is – and the integration with Instagantt, while not perfect, makes for a nice toolset.

      Best of luck with your team dashboard.

  4. Thanks for the information Bryan. Like you, I feel like we\’ve tried every PM app out there and it\’s mind numbing. Right now we\’re using OmniFocus2 and Teamgantt. I\’d rather NOT use two different applications so I\’m considering Asana. Do you know if Instagantt has the ability to display multiple projects at once (like Teamgantt)? We can\’t seem to get an answer from them so I\’ve been doing some research to find a few people who actually use the software.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.
    Christa

    1. Hi Christa,

      Instagantt does have the ability to display multiple projects through groups*, but it\’s not quite as elegant as Teamgantt. I tested Teamgantt for a week and really liked how it gave an overview, or summary of each project when collapsed.

      I chose to go with Instagantt because of the integration with Asana obviously, plus it\’s free, for now at least.

      *Note that there is a limit of 10 projects per group…

  5. Hi Bryan:
    Thanks for this article – I am a new Asana user and would like to think this is the one for us – we are a small operation with a small number of projects – but I think this software is going to be great!
    If I could pick your brain – because I\’ve been unable to find the answer to my question anywhere else;
    1. Do you know a way to turn subtasks into tasks?
    2. Is there a view that will show me all tasks and subtasks to get a good overview of the project?
    I will keep looking for the answers to my questions, but if you know and don\’t mind spending a minute with me I would appreciate it very much.
    Thanks,
    Jill

    1. Hi Jill,

      Turning subtasks into a top level task is as easy as dragging it out of the subtasks into the main project window. If I\’m understanding you correctly that is.

      Regarding a good overview of a project, I think that\’s a bit subjective. I use the My Tasks view to get an overview of what\’s due today and upcoming. For a broad overview of an entire project? That\’s what we use Instagantt for :)

  6. Hi Bryan,

    Did you see that Instagantt just recently release an update (this past week) that allows \’sub-tasks\’ from Asana to be visible on the gantt? This totally changed my world with the integration as I no longer have to have top level tasks in order to see them in the calendar. I can group all related tasks into a Host task and see it on the Gantt.

    Regarding your concern with your legacy \’Clients\’ project– I have a suggestion that is working well for us (and also helps the instagantt 10 project grouping maximum).
    – A task can be linked to multiple projects, thus making it visible in those other \’teams\’ projects (and also the intagantt for them). Simply hit the +/pencil button next to the project name in the task and link to as many projects as you want.
    – A sub-task can also be linked to another project (and section). So, if you keep the Host \’client\’ task alone, the sub-tasks can be linked out to project teams or other ongoing projects if they are related.

    The benefit of this approach which is what I\’ve done to see our regular 50+ projects across our company in one place (without all of the minor day-to-day tasks). I created one \’Resource Calendar\’ project and then linked specific tasks from each projects to it. Then, in Instagantt, I only have to sync up one master project. I can still tag those tasks and they keep the personnel assignments from the original projects. Filtering is pretty easy in Instagantt by tag or person as well. Plus, it\’s a pretty cool way to get around to 10 project limit and the slow syncing.

    Thanks,
    –Noel

    1. Hi Noel,

      Yes I have seen the new subtasks capability in Instagantt, and it\’s great.

      Your approach using a \’Resource Calendar\’ project sounds interesting. I wasn\’t aware that tasks could be associated with multiple projects, I will definitely be looking into that.

      Instagantt has changed the way they display groups – it\’s more of a complete dump of tasks ungrouped within each project. It\’s become almost useless. Your approach might fix that issue for me as well.

      Thanks for sharing your workflow.

  7. Hey Bryan, I\’m the founder of Instagantt. First of all, thanks a lot for sharing how you use the tool! I\’ve just get into this post and I\’m amazed! :-)

    I\’d love to know more about why project groups has become useless. Would you please send me an e-mail?

    Thanks a lot for your time on this!

    1. Hi Daniel, thanks for stopping by. Instagantt is a great tool and I thank you for all of your hard work and continual improvement. I\’ll send you an email with some thoughts.

  8. Hi Bryan. Thanks for this amazing post. I\’m just getting started with using Asana for my small web dev freelance work and this guide really helped clarify some things. I was wondering, besides the Custom Web Project Template that you provided a screenshot for, do you break down the clients projects into a finer list of tasks, in theory, that match the clients sitemap? Also, do you invite your clients into the project within Asana as well? Appreciate any additional tips you can give.

    1. Hi Todd. We\’ll break things down further within the project template, as subtasks – but only when really necessary. Subtasks can sometimes get lost if we\’re not on top of them.

      As for inviting clients… this happens very rarely. We\’ve tried in the past and unless the client is super savvy, or has an interest in learning new systems, most find it too cumbersome over simple email. This is why every time I see a new app that claims to kill off email I just laugh.

  9. Paden

    Hi Bryan, do you guys use a solution for tracking billable time for each project? If so what do you use? Does it integrates with asana?

    1. Hi Paden. We use Harvest to track time. It does integrate with Asana, but we don\’t use it. I just keep a browser window open and adjust there.

      1. Paden

        Thanks!

  10. Shannon

    Thank you for sharing your method. If each client is a ‘task’, does that mean your “Client” team has only one project under it? I’m looking at using Asana to manage my client list, too. Thank you. :)

    1. Hi Shannon. If you\’re going to have a separate team set up for clients I would probably create a separate project for each…

      We don\’t really do it this way any longer. Keeping client info in Asana as a CRM was too much overhead. We still use it for leads, but now we use a single Miscellaneous Projects project to keep the smaller jobs in order.

      Does that help?

      1. Shannon

        Hi Bryan, yeah, that makes sense. Thank you for the response. :) I probably won’t use Asana to manage clients long-term, but I’m jjjuuuust starting out. Good enough for now.

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