Open letter to a leader adopting Asana

leader adopting Asana

Congratulations, you’re a leader adopting Asana, you’ve chosen Asana as your company’s work management tool.

Whether you’re a CEO, COO, solo founder, manager or team leader … this is a big step. You’re about to embark on a great journey towards greater transparency, clarity and efficiency.

I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside more than 80 customers around the world to help them implement Asana, and I’ve learned a couple of tricks along the way. Here are my 10 commandments (well, 16, but 10 sounds better).

🏆 You’ll be Asana’s No. 1 corporate sponsor

You need to be convinced yourself that Asana is the right tool for your business, and you also need to be the first to be trained in it.

It’s essential that you understand Asana’s philosophy and that you understand the main concepts and workflows.

There’s nothing worse than a CEO saying “Apparently, Asana will be good for us, this consultant will help us” rather than “Asana is amazing, I’ve seen it in action and it can really make a difference to our business!”.

🧑‍💻 You will be present at most workshops

I’m not going to lie to you, if you’re a medium-sized company or larger, it will take several days to get your business up and running with Asana.

We need to go through your workflows, your teams, your data, understand the dynamics between departments, train, build, learn, improve, iterate.

Being present in most workshops is essential, as you’re usually the only one who can decide on the spot and know how things work.

🤿 You’ll dive into the details

A typical workshop might look something like this: “We need to have our freelancers listed on Asana”.

“Good idea, let’s build a project for that.” “Oh no don’t worry we’ll do that later, I’ve got the list somewhere.”.

The problem is: during workshops, you’ll experience this situation dozens of times. And soon, you’ll hit a roadblock: all the manual work and implementations you’ve been putting off are holding you back.

You need a list of freelancers as a custom field to test a workflow around delegation? You can’t, you don’t have the list. Want to refer to a freelance profile as an example in a workshop?

Impossible, unless you create a fake freelancer, and people quickly get lost among all the fake stuff you’ve created that doesn’t make sense.

And when you’ve finished the workshop, nothing works, you’ve got big holes with missing pieces. Get ready and dive deep: take 5, 10 or 15 minutes to create the first version of this list, for example, and then iterate from there.

✅ On the spot, you’ll migrate

In a typical scenario, the team shows its current workflow, which is generally okay but not perfect.

The consultant is working on a new workflow, slightly improved but really streamlining everything. “Okay great, we’ll migrate to this workflow later”.

No, we won’t! Once everyone agrees, you take a few minutes to migrate everything so people can start using the new workflow.

🤨 Discover surprising workflows

As CEO, I can tell you: you’ll be surprised by the discoveries you make during these workshops.

Inefficient or duplicated workflows, people wearing several hats when they should be staying in their roles, people compensating for the slackness of other departments, triple approval processes when one would suffice, employees forced to pinch subcontractors because they’re not doing their job, and so on.

You’ll have to delve into the minutiae of every single workflow in the company, and sometimes that’s a bit of a heartache.

Stay positive, it’s all for the best, and you can now simplify and improve everything within Asana.

🔄 Your configuration will be Imperfect, at first

The choice is yours: you can work with a sophisticated consultancy like McKinsey and ask a suitable consultant to map all the company’s workflows over several days or weeks, then suggest an implementation.

Or you can get hands-on, migrate one workflow, then another, improve and iterate. Things won’t be perfect at first, but over time, if you make sure the configuration can evolve, you’ll get there.

🏗 Not everyone will be involved in the construction phase

Building a workflow in Asana is not the same as using a workflow.

Discussing custom fields, multi-homing, reports, changing the layout several times, debating the best sort and or filters, it’s not for everyone.

Some people just want to be told: “Here’s the new workflow from now on”. So make sure you don’t confuse your team by involving them systematically in the construction phase.

Emphasize that they are not expected to know how to create workflows from scratch, but that their opinions are indispensable.

🧱 Without existing, the easier things will be

It’s easier to start from a blank slate on Asana, rather than with a company that’s been working with Asana for weeks or months without proper training.

Because then you have migrations to make, habits to adapt and a lot of clutter to clean up.

On the other hand, it’s hard to understand the benefits of the tool without testing it first…

📚 The company, the people will leave, the workflows and knowledge will remain

Workflows, templates and knowledge bases are your safety net when key people leave the company.

Everything must be documented. Workflows need to be self-explanatory, with customized sections or fields – it’s up to you.

You can’t evolve in the long term with unformalized knowledge and information; people always move on eventually, and everyone knows that handovers are often shaky and done at the last moment.

⏰ It’ll take time

You can’t expect a consultant to come in, and in an hour, design workflows, all nickel and dime clean.

It just doesn’t work like that. You have to train people. And then train them again. You have to design workflows and make sure they work with each other.

Then you have to rework them. Finally, you have to wait for the team to use the configuration and give you feedback. All this takes time.

💪 Appoint an Asana admin

Designing perfect workflows and training teams is one thing. Keeping everything in order is quite another.

Just as you would hire a cleaner, you need an Asana administrator, either in-house or hired (don’t hesitate if you need someone).

The administrator will monitor adoption of the tool within the company, identify drops in engagement, archive old projects or teams, de-duplicate custom fields, monitor everyone’s “My Tasks” view, answer questions, ensure backups are made, delete inactive users to save money, etc.

To make things easier for you, I’ve identified a list of 40 things you should check regularly.

🎖 You shall recruit ambassadors

In addition to an administrator, and depending on the size of your company, you’ll need one or more ambassadors.

Each ambassador will be the point of contact for questions, and will help train local teams (especially when the company is spread over several sites).

They will provide considerable help to the administrator, and will be the company’s eyes and ears when it comes to adopting Asana.

🧘‍♀️ Keep things clean and clear – not everyone will like it

Some people like mess, or at least accept working in a messy environment.

Not everyone wants to use the comments feature to clearly explain what’s going on.

Not everyone thinks it’s useful to provide a status update every Friday because “everyone knows what’s going on anyway”.

Some people are willing to send long e-mail chains to the whole company. Adoption won’t always be easy, and there will be friction.

📰 Keep up to date with the latest Asana news.

Perhaps you missed that Asana had introduced Goals functionality and that you were considering using a dedicated tool for OKRs.

Maybe you missed that forms were made available to the Premium plan when they were previously only for Business.

Stay up to date with the latest Asana features by following them, or with an Asana Solutions Partner (for example, me ^^).

🤝 Don’t forget to take on new employees

Just as you show the newcomer where the coffee machine is and how to get his leave validated, you need to plan appropriate training for new employees, on Asana and on company workflows.

🌈 At last, you’ll enjoy

Once you’re done, you’ll be able to enjoy an optimized business, with good workflows that make sense, and fewer day-to-day worries thanks to a super-efficient way of working together… You deserve it, and so do your employees!

Asana is a tool that lives at the heart of the company. It has implications everywhere, and can have a huge impact if implemented and monitored correctly!

Source: article originally published on the Asana forum

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