Asana: The New Age Project Planning Unicorn

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Dustin Moskovitz, CEO Can frustration lead to the creation of something spectacular?

Well, if you channelize the frustration in the right direction, then Yes! Something similar happened with the conception of Asana, a company which today has more than 60,000 paying organizations and millions of free organizations across 195 countries, with global customers such as AB-InBev, Airbnb, Disney, KLM Air France, NASA, Overstock.com, Uber, Viessmann Group, Vox Media, and Zalando. “In our combined experience at both Google and Facebook, we became frustrated with seeing teams of tremendously smart people get stuck not doing the work that mattered, but spending a majority of their time doing work about work,” states Dustin Moskovitz, the CEO of Asana. “While we were at Facebook, we collaborated on the way to solve this problem for the company by building an internal task management tool, called Tasks. In many ways, this was the prototype for Asana, though we didn't realize it at the time.”

In doing so, he, with his other co-founder, Justin Rosenstein built a juggernaut. Asana today competes in a crowded space. Its software enables members of teams to break up complicated projects into discrete tasks, assign and schedule each one, and track their progress while integrating the whole with email, calendars, and other applications. Rivals like Trello and Basecamp boast many of the same capabilities, but 35,000 paying companies prefer Asana's version, and thanks to them, Asana's revenue is growing by 80 percent a year. Sales reached an estimated $60-$90 million in 2017, yielding a $900 million valuation in its latest funding round.

Stellar Outcomes

Most knowledge workers spend most of their time at their desk, or at least with a laptop. So the duo started by making the asana.com web experience a first-class experience, even developing a whole new web development stack that enables Asana to be as robust and fast as sophisticated desktop applications. The company has apps for both iOS and Android as well but doubled down on mobile—redesigning and rewriting those apps from scratch to be faster, more efficient, and more beautiful— in recognition that mobile is primary for some knowledge workers and very important to all of them.

Today, Asana, as their product and company are both known, has gone beyond the functionality of the original Tasks tool to become a kind of innovative virtual conference room for teams. The solution acts as a single point to coordinate tasks, due dates, comments, and priorities. While the Portfolio feature gives workers insight into how their daily tasks chock up to company-wide goals, the workload capability helps managers connect work to different team members’ skills and schedules.
The solution allows seamless visualization of the work and sees where everything stands. With Asana, employees and managers can move work through multiple stages quickly and efficiently.

The Easiest Way to Manage Projects

Asana’s Organizations feature set acts allows companies of all sizes to use reporting tools to help teams monitor project progress, and IT admin tools, while offering calendar view for projects and tasks, its native iOS app, and Dashboards. The solution comes with added administrator features, including member management, team management, and password and security controls. The status updates feature allows teams to communicate the state of a project to stakeholders and task dependencies. Whereas, the custom fields is an interface and architecture that will let organizations tailor Asana’s information management to cover a variety of structured data points. Meanwhile, the Boards in the application enable teams to organize and visualize their projects in columns. The company also offers pre-made project templates.


Timeline is our most recent step in helping teams make the most of their time, but it’s not the last

Asana released its API to third-party developers, providing a means to read the information in Asana programmatically, input information into Asana, and create automation within the application. This allows customers as well as developers to build on the Asana platform and customize it to their unique work requirements. Common use cases include automating repetitive tasks, reporting on tasks and projects, chaining processes, and syncing with databases or other tools. The company also launched a new interactive feature called Timeline, which business can use to visualize and map out their projects. The Asana API is a RESTful interface that enables teams to update and access data on the platform. The solution also delivers predictable URLs for accessing resources, while using a built-in HTTP feature to receive commands and responses, making it easy to communicate with a wide variety of environments, from browser plug-ins to native applications to command-line utilities.

Collaboration at its Best

The solution also has integrations with other SaaS tools, including Gmail, Slack, Microsoft Outlook, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Zapier, IFTTT, Wufoo, JotForm, Okta, OneLogin, Harvest, Instagantt, and Zendesk. The advanced integration capabilities make it seamless to work in any business environment with Asana. They also added a new CSV importer recently so that teams could upload their image data into the app faster.

An instance that reveals Asana’s value proposition is when Autodesk harnessed the potential of Asana for managing their editorial calendar. Line// Shape//Space is Autodesk’s premier media channel. It’s a website dedicated to telling the future of making things.
Right now the company publishes 3 to 4 times a week and so continually moving and things happening all the time. Before using Asana, the biggest challenge was communication, and it was tough to figure out anything. “With Asana, any communication or any story, everything is available within Task, without missing even an email,” adds Moskovitz. Whether its SEO person, proofreader, editor, Asana helps everyone stay on task and understand what they do and when. Asana is enabling to formalize the production cycle and set the stage for real scaling of the company’s editorial operations which they wouldn’t be able to do without a tool like Asana.

Introducing Timeline: The Beginning of a New Era

Having carved a unique niche in the marketplace, Asana now is geared to launch new features to conquered the product management space, once and for all. “It’s time for a tool that helps you map out your project and hit your deadlines. Which is why we’re excited to announce the release of Timeline, a beautiful, living view of how all the pieces of your project fit together,” says Moskovitz. With Timeline, teams finally have a way to map out their project plans, share those plans to get buy-in and adjust the plan as needed to keep work on track and reach their goals. Moreover, because Timeline is directly tied to your task in Asana, it stays up-to-date as work progresses.


By viewing projects with projects that have many moving pieces and deadlines in Timeline, clients can quickly see how their work maps out over time, which tasks have timing or dependency conflicts, and how you’re pacing toward your goal. Timeline works exceptionally well for time-sensitive or deadline-driven work. With Timeline, there’s no need to create project timelines from scratch again. Every project in Asana has a built-in Timeline view so that the clients can map out their plans by clicking on the Timeline tab to see their project schedule seamlessly. “Timeline is our most recent step in helping teams make the most of their time, but it’s not the last,” says Moskovitz.

"With Asana, any communication or any story, everything is available within Task, without missing even an email"

In a signature checkered shirt, Moskovitz, one of the more unassuming billionaires you might ever meet, leans back in his chair to think about his vision for the future. “For remote work to work well, first of all, we need video conferencing that works reliably,” he says. “But we also need something that connotes more emotion.” Emotion may be a weird focus area for the CEO of an enterprise software company. However, to Moskovitz, it’s essential that software not obfuscate the people who use it. “I believe relationships will be as important as ever in the future,” Moskovitz adds. “These new tools are about helping teams find clarity about what’s important.” With a net worth of over $10 billion, Moskovitz cares about more than just building another successful software company. It’s working on all the work that goes into our work that matters now.

Asana News

Asana Raises $50 Million Series E Funding to Fuel International Growth and Enterprise Scale

SAN FRANCISCO: Asana, a leading work management platform for teams, announced the completion of its $50 million Series E equity round at a valuation of $1.5 billion.

The round was led by Generation Investment Management, in addition to existing investors 8VC, Benchmark Capital and Founders Fund, and new investors Lead Edge Capital and World Innovation Lab. The most recent funding brings Asana’s total funds raised in 2018 to $125 million.

“At Generation Investment Management, we’re grounded in the philosophy that through strategic investments in leading, mission-driven companies we can move towards a more sustainable future,” said Colin le Duc, co-founder and partner, Generation Investment Management and Asana board member. “We see Collaborative Work Management as a distinct and rapidly expanding segment, and Asana has the right product and team to lead the market. Through Dustin and the team, Asana is changing how businesses around the world collaborate, epitomizing what it means to deliver results with a mission-driven ethos.”

Asana intends to leverage the latest funding to continue its growth, focusing on key areas of Enterprise Scale, Global Expansion and Product Innovation. Specifically:

• Expanding Asana’s global infrastructure capabilities with the opening of an EU data center to meet the needs of its growing European customer base. The planned Frankfurt-based data center is slated for opening in the first half of 2019.

• Expanding the company’s global footprint in Asia Pacific, starting with a strategic presence in both Sydney, Australia and Tokyo, Japan—two leading centers of technology and future of work innovation.

• Accelerating the delivery of the product roadmap with a focus on helping leaders plan, manage and monitor their company's most important initiatives.

“We’re honored to be joined by an industry-leading group of investors who share our vision for the future of work,” said Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder and CEO, Asana. “As the work management imperative becomes increasingly global, we’re focused on supporting our expanding international team and customer base to meet the growing demand to democratize project management and improve team coordination. We’re more focused than ever on our vision to enable organizations to align their missions with clarity of plan, purpose and responsibility so they can focus on the work that matters most.”

Asana was recently named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Collaborative Work Management Tools for The Enterprise, Q4 2018 report. In addition to this recognition as a leader, the company is also widely known for its purpose-driven approach to culture, and was named a 2018 Top 5 “Best Place to Work” by Fortune Magazine. Earlier this month, the company launched Asana Business which introduced a new suite of features for project managers, portfolio leads and management to best allocate resources and understand progress towards big objectives.

Asana Releases Microsoft Outlook Integration, Transforming Emails into Actions

SAN FRANCISCO: Asana, the fastest-growing Work Management app for teams, announced the launch of Asana for Outlook, giving customers another option to turn emails into trackable, actionable work. The integration empowers users to take action on emails in real time without leaving their inbox.

Teams on Asana often still rely on email for communication about work, particularly with agencies, vendors, or contractors. However, Asana customers found that action items and to-dos were getting lost in those email threads. More than one third of Asana customers use Outlook for email communication, and now all of those customers can turn email into action without leaving their inbox.

“We’re pleased to now offer our hundred of thousands of Microsoft Outlook customers a new, simple way to manage their work without losing time or focus switching between platforms,” said Alex Hood, head of product at Asana. “Our mission is to enable teams to work together effortlessly, whether it’s with their own teams, or with their external partners. Our integrations allow us to meet our customers where they’re already communicating about the work – whether it’s in Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Gmail or Slack – so they can manage and execute without losing momentum.”

Many of the organizations that manage work in Asana communicate with external stakeholders via email. The integration has already helped those teams ensure action items don’t fall through the cracks.

Asana for Outlook makes it easy to:

• Turn emails into trackable, actionable tasks with the help of AI. When action items come in through email, teammates can now create tasks for them in Asana right from Outlook. The integration also utilizes Microsoft’s machine learning engine, enabling language recognition to find and highlight suggested action items within email. When action items or tasks are spotted, they are highlighted by a blue link that users can select to quickly create a new task in Asana.

• Add email to existing tasks to capture context. When teammates receive information via email that impacts their team's work, emails can now be added as a comment on a task straight from Outlook.

“Customers have told us that integrating Microsoft Outlook with a work management tool like Asana supports the success of their business,” said Mike Ammerlaan, director, Microsoft Office 365 Ecosystem, Microsoft Corp. “The addition of Asana for Outlook will allow our customers to seamlessly turn Outlook emails into Asana tasks, so they can keep track of action items and ensure accountability on their teams.”

Company
Asana

Headquarters
San Francisco, CA

Management
Dustin Moskovitz, CEO

Description
Asana helps teams organize and manage all of their work, from small projects to strategic initiatives