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Asana: Web 2.0-based collaborative management system, mooted by Facebook’s co-founder

Chandan Raj
9th Aug 2011
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Firsthand review of Asana, the startup from the ‘Facebook Mafia’ which is creating a great deal of buzz worldwide

What do you get when you put together a team comprising of Facebook’s co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and engineering manager Justin Rosenstein along with Sean Parker, Marc Andreessen, Ron Conway, Peter Thiel and Mitch Kapor?

It’s got to be Asana, a Web 2.0 "collaborative management system" designed to streamline business communication and facilitate workplace efficiency. Backed by the $9 million Series A round investment from Benchmark Capital and Andreessen-Horowitz, Asana is said to be an effort to re-imagine how we work together, through modern productivity software.

The question then is - do we really need yet another project management/collaboration software? I think most of us would have already tried email, wikis, Google Docs, Microsoft Project, ManyMoon and others. But the truth is that none of them give us a real sense of on-the-fly collaboration with team members when working together online. Google Docs and ManyMoon sure are good. But they aren’t quite there yet. And hence, most of us go back to personal meetings, sticky notes and emails for communication and collaboration.

Justin Rosenstein captured the insight brilliantly during his demo at the Asana Open House. He said, “we are what we do and most of the time what we do, we do in groups.” Even when he was in Google, he mentioned that 90% of his time was spent on dealing with the friction of coordination and communication with the team. And the same continued at Facebook. Apparently, they were using emails, BaseCamp and other homegrown stuff. But none of them were helping the cause.

dustin-moskovitz

Both Justin and Dustin were unhappy with the amount of time the team was spending, trying to stay on the same page with everyone. They felt that the requirement was a magic tool where groups of people can align their energy in a common direction, focus on a goal and march towards that goal together. Essentially, that’s what Asana is all about. It’s fast, versatile and helps individuals and groups get more done easily and faster while being on top all the time.The first view of the dashboard gives you a simple and elegant look, with three columns and one shortcut tab bar at the bottom for quick commands. Even though it’s on the web, the experience is lightning fast, not unlike typing on a notepad. Much credit is due to the optimized user experience with detailed attention to users accomplishing goals in the minimum number of keystrokes. People who use keyboard shortcuts will love this. All this had reportedly been made possible thanks to Lunascript, which, the Asana team claims, makes their web app respond in a way that hasn’t been done on the Web before!

The Asana dashboard gives a complete overview of all the projects one is managing in his/her workspace. The left column gives a list of all the projects one is managing or assigned to. The middle column lists all the tasks involved with the selected project, where each task can be prioritized, edited and assigned to responsible person. And the right column gives all the necessary details about the selected tasks like due date, activity feed, attachments, etc

So, what’s in store for a new user? Asana is currently offering a collaborative task and project management software, free of charge, delivered over the Web (initially) suitable for both individuals and <50 person teams/companies.

Keeping groups of people organized is a problem at the heart of every organization. So, their focus is on providing a real solution with some amazing features like full text search, news feeds, per-task walls (comments + feed), infinite undo, version control, advanced sharing and privacy models, a bidirectional email bridge, LDAP integration, offline support, recurring tasks, “remind me later,” task dependencies, mobile, workflows, and visualizations (e.g. an editable Gantt chart view) and making these features fast, easy, and enjoyable to use.

asana-dashboard

Asana’s task management app is a content management system for one particular kind of structured data. But they’re building it on a general structured data management platform, which can be leveraged first to launch more applications and ultimately, to allow users and third-party developers to create custom schemas, workflows and interfaces, all integrated with a single common data model.

They have also brought in Kenny Van Zant, who was most recently the SVP and Chief Product Strategist for SolarWinds in a “COO-type of role” to drive Asana’s marketing and corporate strategy.

Asana is the one of the most anticipated launch from the “Facebook mafia” after Quora and is competing for fame with Path, which is rumored to have been offered a whopping $120 million by Google!

So, from YourStory.in, we wish Asana team the very best with their public launch and for their future!

 

Chandan Raj | YourStory.in

 

Image Courtesy: Businessweek

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