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Asana moves beyond simple task management with new update

Blair Hanley Frank | Oct. 1, 2015
Productivity company levels up its capabilities in busy enterprise collaboration market.

Asana on web, iOS and Android
An illustration of Asana's new design across web and mobile platforms. Credit: Asana

One of the key problems with doing work in a group is managing who's doing what tasks when. In a traditional workplace, that's often handled with status meetings, email chains and layers of management to help wrangle what everyone is doing. That's the problem that Asana originally set out to solve with the product it launched first in 2012. 

The company's core product allows business users to track tasks for teams and projects so that it's easy to see what people are working on and how progress on key tasks is going. 

Asana made a three announcements on Wednesday morning that the company says is a major evolution of its product -- including one that vastly expands the product's capabilities. Co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein took the stage during a press event at the company's offices to unveil a new design for their company's eponymous product, along with new group messaging capabilities and a Track Anything function that lets users expand tasks beyond how they were traditionally used. 

Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein
Asana co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein announce updates to the company's product on Sept. 30, 2015. Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

One of the most frequent requests Asana received from its end users was the ability to tweak the service's task list functionality to support tracking other things, like software bugs and strands of DNA. While customers were shoehorning those sorts of things into Asana's existing task interface, there wasn't a great way to track all of the different types of data attached to things that aren't traditional to-do tasks. 

That's why Asana announced new Track Anything functionality that lets users add fields to a traditional task. Using that functionality, venture capitalists could use Asana to track startups, and add fields for the amount of money the firms have raised from them, what partner is working with which startup and what stage of funding each startup is in. 

Moving forward, Asana plans to open its Track Anything functionality to developers, so they can build applications on top of the company's platform to provide customers with specialized functionality like job applicant tracking. In addition to laying out new fields, developers will be able to pull in data from other applications like LinkedIn and add interface elements to Asana. According to Rosenstein, the goal for Track Anything is to make Asana a central experience for everything business users are tracking.

Finally, Asana is also rolling out a new Conversations feature that makes it possible for teams to discuss their work within the task management software and easily create tasks from those discussions. It's not designed to replace person-to-person email, or a real-time chat system like Slack, but it could be a useful replacement for something like group mailing lists where people decide on what to do. 


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