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Case Study: Working With Asana’s Product Development Team

Asana Case Study - Workflow Builder

After the Chief Marketing Officer at Asana heard about the robust workflow we built for one of our clients. We were asked to show off our project to their product team and provide feedback on what new features and updates would improve their Workflow Builder and Automation Rules.

Project: Content Thunder consulted with Asana’s product management team and provided feedback on their new Workflow feature as well as their closely related automation rules feature.

Examples of our feedback that Asana implemented into their product

Add a description for the Workflow tab

When we were shown the Workflow, there wasn’t any information explaining what the Workflow was. We mentioned that it wasn’t very clear and now there is a description on the left of the page.

Remove the hard limit of only 20 automation rules

Previously you could only set up a maximum of 20 automation rules. So power users would need to rely on third-party tools like Zapier when they used their 20 rules up. We thought that was an unnecessary limitation and they agreed.

Multi-select tasks for bulk editing/moving

If you needed to move, delete, or update a bunch of tasks you had to do it individually. This was combursome for users with a lot of tasks that needed action. We suggested the use of bulk actions with a multi-select feature. Now you can select up to 50 tasks at a time and perform basic bulk actions to them all at once.

Increase the number of columns you can see in the Dashboard Reporting

If you had a large team or set of data, you were limited to about 7 columns before things got cut off in the reports. We mentioned that the only workaround was to duplicate the reports and set up manual filters to see the rest of the data in the report. Now you see more in the initial report and there is a new feature where you can expand the report to see more than twice the data as before.

Move a task from one project to another instead of just adding it to a second project

Before you could only add a task to a new project with their automation rules, but that wouldn’t remove the task from the previous project. It would just exist in both projects. If you had a scenario where a task finishes in one project then needs to be moved on to a different one, you still had to manually remove the task from the previous project after the automation ran. After mentioning this, now they created an option to either add it to an additional project or move it to another project.


Custom Functionality That Inspired New Features

We also showed the Asana team some of the custom functionality we had built for our client that enabled them to manage their entire order fulfillment process. This led to many of the features we showed them being added to their workflow just 6-9 months later.

Sending communication to clients at various steps in the workflow

One major component to using a project or task management tool like Asana for managing a fulfillment process is communication. For our client, we had built custom forms that linked with Asana to send out communication to customers at certain steps in the process. The product team at Asana liked it so much that they added email, SMS, and Slack messages as automation features shortly after.

Use subtask completions to trigger actions

Subtasks are great for breaking down a task, order, or mini-project into responsibilities that can be assigned to multiple people. However, if you wanted the completion of that subtask to do something automation-wise, it had to be done using third-party tools or a custom solution. We showed Asana our roadmap for using subtask completions as a trigger for automation. Asana has now started introducing this as an option and it even works when you set up subtasks as dependencies of each other.

Uploading Media to Third Party Storage (Dropbox)

One of the cornerstone features we had in the workflow we built was adding project files to a project folder in Dropboxyou could access from the task in Asana. The custom automation we created would create the folder structure in Dropbox, add files to it, then place a link to the folder in Asana. Now you can run automation in Asana directly that uploads your attachments to Dropbox.

More about the project

What Asana’s team had to say:

Thanks again for all the great feedback and for showing us that impressive workflow. I’ll share your notes with our product team too.

Working with the team to get more features built into it (including some of the integration pieces you’d shown me)

Michael C.
Product Management for Workflows at Asana

What we can learn from Asana to develop better products and customer experiences

If you are a product manager or a part of a UX/UI team, these are some industry practices that Asana’s team leads the way in.

Conduct User Interviews

The best way to figure out product market fit is to figure out who your customers are and learn how they use your product or service.

Asking great questions

You want to ask questions that help you understand the use case. In interviews, it’s not enough to ask what features someone wants. You need to understand why those feature are important from the point of view of the customer.

Be receptive to feedback

In product design, negative feedback is important. It informs you on what new features should be in your roadmap. You almost have to desire negative feedback over positive feedback, because that is the stuff that actually helps you improve your product or website.

Read between the lines

Some of the most useful information you can gather comes indirectly. Look out for things like when a customer is using a third-party tool to do something your app doesn’t do natively or if they are creating something to solve for an issue with an existing feature. These can indicate a need for new features or uncover a usability issue with the current design.

Fit features into archetypes

Try to focus on features for a particular archetype or avatar. Doing this means you can release a list of new features that solve the problems a large segment of your market may experience and then you can create a full campaign around it. This enables you to grow market share within that particular segment while also improving your product for everyone.

Final thoughts

It was a pleasure providing our insights and showing our work to Asana’s team. We were thrilled to see so many of our recommendations make their way onto the platform that we use every day. We learned a lot through this pro bono consultation and were happy to help improve this widely used app. If you are looking to improve your website or workflow, we recommend you request a proposal or give us a call at Content Thunder.

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