Looking back at my first day at work: It’s my first day at my first job. I am new to everything..people, ways of communication, work environment and the work itself. So, everything aside, I am really looking forward to how things run around here.
After all the trivial stuff (workstation and laptop assignment et cetera) was over, I was sent email invites to join a couple of online tools. Turns out we use two tools regularly: slack for team communication and asana for task management. Been more than 8 months since then and there is no notion of work without asana.
So, I was welcomed on an asana workspace. I joined it when asana still had its blue boring design. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it then too but it was just another tool. It was usable and it got my work done. It took me no time to get a hang of it.
But then asana revamped its whole website. This new brilliant design that asana came up with added a twist of color to the whole affair. This is when it really got me. This is when I moved from a normal user to a complete fan of asana. Half my job is about logging bugs on the tool and all the relevant drama. Doing it on a fun tool is a joy in itself.
What makes a great tool
Let’s consider a tool as a person. What do we look for in a person? We start from what influence they leave on us when we first meet – the first impression! And then comes getting to know them. So ideally, a person should have not so bad looks and a good heart. Same goes for a tool. It should look and feel good and should be usable.
Asana is a beautiful tool inside and out. The UI is visually appealing and user-friendly. The color scheme is a nice balance of professional and fun. If I am to pick among good looks and user-friendliness, I will trade off good looks. Thankfully, in the case of asana, I didn’t have to make such hard choices.
Asana as a Task Management Tool
I work at a software company which provides data sciences and customized cloud and mobile solutions. We use asana for task management as well as bug tracking. To avoid clutter and confusion, we maintain separate workspaces for external (with the client) and internal (with the team) communication.
Like all the modern software houses, we too happen to be using Agile methodology for development which demands active team collaboration. New sprint cycles are created every week, tasks are added and functionality enhancements are developed and tested daily.
Asana has a very clean design. All projects are maintained in separate workspaces. Each sprint cycle is maintained as a different project and tasks are added accordingly. You have the freedom to keep the teams separate. This helps in maintaining independent internal and external workspaces. This is what a typical workspace looks like.
The best thing about asana is its minimalistic design. You have everything necessary in front of you and thank Goodness of the God, there isn’t too much going on, on the screen. Write in a new line and you have a new task added. You don’t have to spend time looking for trivial things like “how to add a new task” or “how to assign a task to a team member”. Fields for all the basic information is right in front of you, create a task, add a description, add attachments, add tags, set a due date, assign team members, and followers. No time is wasted in figuring the damn tool out.
Asana as a Bug Tracking System
Being the only QA Engineer at my team, logging and keeping track of all the bugs is a vital part of my job. Unless the tool in use is efficient, my work becomes unpleasant and inefficient.
In Agile Environment, the work of all the developers and testers is closely related. Therefore, using a separate tool for bug tracking is neither feasible nor practical. This helps in keeping everything in one place.
Each task in a Bug project(list) can be treated as a reported bug. You can add a title, description and necessary attachments i.e. everything necessary to report a bug. The relevant person is assigned to fix the bug.
Sectioning and Heading feature of asana helps in maintaining a hierarchy of the bugs. This helps in keeping it organized and easy to track. The basis of hierarchy can be functionality or priority.
Usually, there are multiple stakeholders for a certain bug, for instance, the developer, the tester, the project manager, and the lead software engineer. All these people can be added as followers of bugs and get notified to track progress. You can even follow whole lists and be notified whenever a new bug/task is added.
Using shortcuts is both handy and cool 😀 Asana has some very useful shortcuts.
Tab+Q opens an Add Task dialog, enabling you to add a task to any project or list without switching lists.
Tab+F adds followers
You can view the complete list in asana by pressing Ctrl/ or Cmd/.
In our team, we use tags to track bug status. So, we have ‘In-Progress’ for when the bug is being fixed, ‘ready-for-testing’ when the developer has fixed the bug and the QA needs to test it and ‘Fixed’ for when the bug has been tested by the QA. We mark it complete when the changes are pushed to and tested on the development server from company’s local server. (Development server is where the client can access and test the app)
A very powerful and one of my favourite asana features is its different view and search options. You can view tasks by an assignee, by the due date, by its status (complete/incomplete) and much more.
Asana is more than just a tool. It’s an experience. It beautifully combines work with a dash of delight with its powerful features and user-friendly UI. Oh and if the flying animals don’t excite you, then I am afraid you’re too serious for your own good.