How Asana helped us build a better NameShouts.
Prioritizing is key to building a company.
With so much to do, and so few hands to assign to it, the pace of work at a startup can feel relentless.
The work can be dizzying and disorienting, and can even lead some to feel as though they can never truly grasp how much is going on.
It doesn’t help, when spinning plates, to throw things up in the air. As a company progresses from side hustle to concrete venture, it becomes vital to settle down with a process.
It’s what we learned as we grew our team beyond the original founders. With multiple projects and deadlines, verbal commitments can only mean so much. A startup's productivity is its most important resource.
And as you progress past an initial team, it can be difficult to keep tabs on what’s going on in your company.
Everyone needs a process: without a plan of attack, things quickly slip into frantic, mismanaged chaos. That’s why we’re writing this, our love letter to Asana.
What is Asana?
Asana is a “work management” tool.
Teams can use Asana to keep track of progress on projects, assignments or daily tasks. You could use it for marketing, engineering, or HR and recruiting.
In its simplest form, Asana provides you with a space where you can list the tasks you need to complete. You can set deadlines for the tasks, as well as add subtasks that need to be completed before you can tackle the main item.
It’s quite versatile: after all, everyone does work. Whether you follow the Agile methodology, or your own style, it can be tweaked to the way you do things.
That means Asana helps a variety of companies: teams like us, for example, are amongst fashion house Givenchy, as well as tech stalwarts Hubspot and Figma.
When there’s important work to be done, Asana can fit the bill. With a tool like this in hand, it’s difficult to imagine how things worked before it.
But we’ll give it a try anyways.
Escaping the Early Days
In the pre-Asana days at NameShouts, two things were certain.
Our daily standups, and some task getting left behind.
You see, before Asana, we were relying on a haphazard system of documents, verbal agreements, and collective memory to operate.
And while we weren’t necessarily running aground, the ship certainly wasn’t sailing smoothly. Things were forgotten, not because of anyone in particular, but rather because there was no central system guiding us.
As things picked up, and we began taking ourselves and our strategy to the next level, we needed the tools to keep up with us.
We had already begun using Slack for communication. With the idea of having specialized software specifically for core functions of our workday, it made sense to start looking into a way to track our day-to-day tasks.
And as we adopted a Kanban system, we decided to take the leap and start working with a project management tool.
Kicking Things Off
But you can’t just wake up one day and change an entire system of doing work.
There was resistance to Asana at first, mainly because we had been doing alright so far, and it seemed like an unnecessary extra step to track what we were doing.
Having to push the mundane tasks, such as planning meetings and discussions on work to be done, into a new software seemed like a chore.
Luckily, Asana was user-friendly from the drop, and minimized its impact on our schedules. Before long, it seemed as though those mundane meetings had slipped into the ghostly past: they were quickly forgotten.
And even as we grew, our Asana grew with us. As we progressed from Kanban, to GTD, to an agile methodology, Asana has lived and thrived with us and our work, providing a sober space to document and keep track of what needed to be done.
And, of course, we’re huge fans of the almighty Unicorn.
Yes, the mythical Asana unicorn, which, if you’re lucky, will emerge from its hiding place when you complete multiple tasks.
It’s things like that which set Asana apart as a work management tool: truly embodying the idea that work should be enjoyable. It’s awesome to get stuff done, so why not celebrate it?
Where We’re At
Asana has been extremely helpful in documenting a work process for us. We now know what we’re working on, and can hold ourselves accountable for it.
More than that, it has provided us with a documented history of tasks we’ve completed. Now, we can go back and figure out where exactly we left things off.
It’s hard to imagine a time before Asana at NameShouts. Being able to keep track of who’s working on what has been invaluable. It has lead to higher productivity, more efficient meetings, and a sense of greater purpose.
With Asana as a jumping off point, we’ve also been able to test out how we break down our work, and eventually settle on a process that works for us.
It might not seem like documenting tasks could really make that meaningful of a change. But it’s a step quickly snowballs into an overarching sense of organization -- something slips away in startups. And with that, we can work towards our mission with clarity, purpose, and a list of completed tasks in our wake.