Since its launch in 2008, Asana has been striving toward a goal to make work more effective. Today the company is taking that goal a step further with Boards, a new visual way for customers to keep track of their work tasks. The product is similar to Trello, the popular task management app that now has more than 10 million users.
Justin Rosenstein, Asana’s cofounder, says his company frequently hears from customers who use Asana for most of their work tracking, but have to switch to something else, like Trello, when they need a visual workflow.
“They complain about that because they really want everything in one place,” says Rosenstein. “That makes sense because sometimes you have these multi-stage pipelines, or sometimes it really benefits to be able to do things in a very visual way and see the whole world at a glance.”
When workers have to switch between tools, things get complicated and hard to find, and the usefulness of both tools is diminished. So Asana decided to build its own visual tool within its platform. If you’re already familiar with services like Trello, then it’s going to look particularly familiar.
“We want to give Trello full credit where it’s deserved,” Rosenstein says. “We think they’ve done a great job on executing and creating an easy useful visual view. But ultimately we see a much bigger opportunity in bringing this to more teams and enabling more types of work by integrating it into a full work-tracking system, because Boards really served to be a feature of a larger system, not a standalone product.”
Asana’s work-tracking software is already used by the likes of Uber, Zappos, Pinterest, and the Malala Fund. The company has said it wants to help teams become 5% more effective at work. In fact, a recent survey of its most loyal customers found that the service is doing much better than that 5%, with the average customer remarking that they’re 45% more effective on Asana than without.
Think of Boards like a virtual wipeout board, with sticky notes attached. Referred to in the business world as a kanban board, virtual cards can be dropped into different columns and moved around within the space to represent their completion.
For instance, a magazine might have a column with ideas it has for its blog, another column for ideas that have been fleshed out and are ready to be written into blog posts, and another for posts that are done and ready to be published.
Unlike your average Post-it, virtual cards can include rich information like web links, images, and an important feature for Asana users: a connection to other places where your team is collaborating. That means that rather than having to choose between the visual layout or something different, you can get the power of both within the same tool.
What you do in Boards will also be reflected in real-time across any projects where it lives. Even better, cards can exist on multiple boards at once. That means they could move through several workflows simultaneously while keeping everyone involved informed on their progress.
Much like Trello, you can color-code cards, assign cards to different individuals, and set due dates for when a task needs to be completed. Boards will be available at no cost for both free and paid Asana users, and will keep evolving.
“This is our first version of this. We think it’s very good,” says Rosenstein. “We’re going to be continuing to invest in it and make it better and better over time.”