Project Management 102: “Out of the box” Asana Use Cases

In part one of this blog series, Project Management 101, we discussed some of the standard and common uses for Asana.  

This included individuals who use Project Management tools for personal needs (i.e., to-do lists) to business and enterprise teams who want to streamline conversations and increase overall productivity. 

The real power of project management tools like Asana is the flexibility they offer to allow businesses to build customized “out-of-the-box” workflows. Companies can leverage this flexibility to create systems that handle the unique challenges of their organizations. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the advanced ways customers are using Asana. We hope it will spark some creativity in how your team can more creatively leverage Asana to make your business more efficient, agile, and transparent. 

Note: While our team at Velocity is partial to Asana, the concepts discussed in this article apply to other Project Management tools as well. Be aware that some plans and features vary from one tool to another. 

Project Management Use Cases

As we discussed in our first blog in this series, there are many common uses of Asana. For instance, Asana is a great product for marketing and design teams and has built standard best practices to support customers working in these functions.

To save time while building an efficient Asana deployment, Asana and a few third parties have best practice templates, such as building a marketing campaign or an editorial calendar. 

Although workflows will be slightly different for each company, the general structure and end goal for these functional teams are often repeatable.  

As more and more companies adopt Asana and usage expands across the organization, customers have taken advantage of the flexibility and molded Asana to meet the growing and diverse demands of their teams. 

The flexibility of Asana enables these teams to build solutions that fit their unique organizational structures. We break down a few examples of “unconventional” uses of Asana we’ve seen. Again, your company may take inspiration from these examples. Still, we encourage you to step back and think about what works best for your unique organization then adapt Asana to those needs, rather than the other way around. 

CRM for Sales Teams

Some organizations heavily invested in Asana use it as a straightforward CRM, allowing them to manage sales processes, prospects, and clients. 

For small companies or those with a simple sales process, Asana can be used as a central source of truth for sales teams. In these cases, Salesforce or other dedicated CRM solutions are simply too expensive or overkill.  

There are a few ways to organize Asana as a CRM. One strategy we recommend is to start with a board layout and set names of each column as a checkpoint in the sales cycle. The names of each column will depend on your specific product and sales cycle – but they could represent new lead, contact made, meetings booked, etc.  

Then each task would represent a unique prospect. Each task will then contain detailed notes and information about each prospect. As the prospects move through the sales flow, they’ll move to the next column on the board.

Once the framework is set, custom fields become very powerful to represent important aspects of each prospect. Perhaps they’ll include estimated deal size, upsell opportunity, and contact details, allowing teams to manage and filter the most relevant information. 

If you have the Asana Business plan, you can set sales goals for your team that link to your CRM project. This could be the number of leads, closed deals, or aggregated deal value. You can also upload critical resources, such as team documentation and sales scripts, into the project overview section. 

While Asana doesn’t have the same capabilities as a dedicated CRM product, it can meet the basic needs of your organization and helps sales and account management teams save time and increase productivity by adding a convenient central resource to keep teams aligned.  

Customer Support Hub

Similar to the idea of Asana as a CRM, we’ve seen some customers use Asana to provide support to existing customers. The “customer support hub” use case can be helpful for many types of Asana users, but we’ve seen this to be particularly useful for agencies with standard scope of work for their clients.

The “customer support hub” can be set up in various ways but is most simple when creating a dedicated project for each customer. 

From there, you can break down the different phases of your service process. For example, you can set a task or create a template for onboarding, service delivery, collaboration, feedback, and final deliverable processes. 

Once you are set up and beginning to deliver against your timeline, you can share this structure with your client so they’ll know exactly what to expect when working with your company. 

The added transparency helps your employees understand priorities and expectations, and saves time by reducing the number of “what’s the status” emails from clients.

Updates can be sent through a weekly email or simply a link to the dashboard. (Dashboards can be built-in Velocity, in a Google Sheet through Data Links, or directly in Asana.)

All stakeholders have a single, convenient location to track conversations, milestones, and feedback. We’ll get into this in the next section, but you can go even further by allowing clients to use Asana to submit support tickets and report issues with customized forms

Additionally, Asana Business plans allow you to add advanced integrations. Your team can integrate tools such as Zendesk, Salesforce, Google, and more to connect Asana with software that your team may already use. 

Collect Information with Forms

Most customers use Asana by inputting tasks into Asana and then tracking it through a given process, such as development, marketing, content creation, etc. An underutilized feature that we’ve seen being used creatively is Asana Forms.

Creating Asana Forms

Asana’s Form feature enables various workflows to help collect vital information from employees, customers, and teams. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Create a Survey: You can use Asana Forms to create a survey then populate Asana using the information inputted into the platform. Once the survey is completed and tasks are created/updated in Asana, your team can prioritize tasks and assign tickets to relevant teams.

These surveys can range from understanding customer sentiment, employee satisfaction, or just gathering information on your product or service. 

Depending on the type and amount of data, you can further analyze the results and trends directly in Asana, or by exporting to a CSV file and conducting analysis in a spreadsheet. 

  • Create Continuous Forms: Creating a “continuous” form can streamline your processes to create support tickets. Forms can be used to directly generate support tickets and route them to the IT teams to resolve issues quickly and effectively. 

Forms can also be used to capture new feature requests and send them to the Product Management team to prioritize and add to the future roadmap.

Forms are an easy way to have outsiders directly contribute to Asana. Be careful though – making it easy to import into Asana can create A LOT of extra data so make sure you have systems in place to make sure things stay orderly. 

Budgeting System

While we still recommend traditional accounting software for most use cases, Asana provides an excellent resource for those looking to build and track project-related budgets. 

Let’s check out an example:

  • Your team has a specific budget for a new marketing campaign. 
  • You want to track data related to that project, such as ad spend and billed hours to ensure you stay on budget.
  • Using Asana, you can create a custom field for “estimated budget” and “actual budget” for each line item or billable task.
  • Then, as you progress through your project, you can monitor and compare actual vs. budgeted hours and expenses.
  • You can then create a summary that shows the actual hours billed and the costs.

For example, in this chart, we can see a trend that “Actual Hours” tends to be higher than “Budgeted Hours.” This may mean that we need to change our estimates in the future or have a conversation with our customers to expect a larger invoice. 

This is not only a great resource for your internal teams but can also help customers see the amount of time dedicated to their project and the corresponding value of your services. 

The opportunities and advantages are limitless with the flexibility of Asana’s project management tools. By utilizing 3rd party applications such as Zapier or Velocity, the opportunities to be creative and build unique workflows is endless. 

How are you getting creative with Asana in your organization? We’d love to hear!

Too much for now? Just getting started with Asana? Start with part one of this blog series for more conventional uses of Asana.  

As always we’re here to help you get the most value out of your Project Management tools and software. If you have a unique use case you’d like to discuss we’re here to help: [email protected]