Managing Design Projects in Asana

managing-design-projects-in-asana_blogpostcover_11132015
Cynthia Bartz • October 13, 2015

I was first introduced to the idea of Project Management Software shortly after I left my last 9-to-5 job. It was like a whole new world had opened up before me. I am a big organizer, especially when it comes to projects. I want to know who is doing what, when we plan to get it done, and things we need to buy to accomplish all of those tasks. When I was in college I had an entire notebook where I would just list tasks and shopping lists. I continued this habit into my professional life and would keep a running list of tasks I wanted to accomplish that day and week.

When I launched my business this system fell apart. There was too much to keep track of between my design tasks, following up with prospects, marketing, billing, etc. I was missing things and felt scattered. Enter Asana.

I use Asana to track EVERYTHING. Often my day is a mix of tasks for my design business, running our household, volunteer work with my church, and work for my startup; I use Asana to track tasks for all of these things. Even if you only track things for your business, Asana is an invaluable tool to keep your small business moving in the right direction.

Managing Design Projects in Asana

I pull all of my clients into Asana with me. As we work on the project I assign tasks to myself and to them. Conversations about the project, tasks, files, and reference material are all in the same place so there is no more digging through emails to find proofs or that request for changes. Even more amazing, it is all searchable: every task and conversation. Below you can see an example of an active website project.

How I go about Managing design projects in Asana screenshot

I have a template for all design work which divides all of my tasks into sections: General To Dos, Wireframes, Design, Development, Approved and Quality Assurance.

I like to add the goals of the project to the project description; it serves as a reminder as we are working. I also update the status in Asana periodically to communicate clearly if things are going smoothly or if there is something hanging us up.

close up of individual tasks in asana

In the beginning of the project I input every task I can think of, along with due dates and assignees.

Under the wireframe section I list each wireframe and site map that needs to be created as an individual task and assign it to my self. As I complete wireframes I attach the pdf to the task and write up a description of the work was done. Then I create a new task in the Wireframe section for my client to review the proof. In the description of the task I link the “create wireframe” task. You can see the exact language I use in the example below.

asana_review-home-page-task_rmt_10132015

If the proof is approved I add tasks to the “approved” section for me to prep the final files. If the proof is not approved I look over the revisions and create a task for myself called “Revise Home Page Wireframe – Round 1” in the description I link back to the “Review” task shown above. I go through this cycle of review and revisions with my clients until everything is perfect.

My Rules for Asana

The key to making Asana really work for you is to input lots of information. It might seem tedious and unnecessary, but tracking your project this way will ultimately result in better communication.

EVERY single task gets assigned to someone

It is easy to let things fall to the side and be forgotten. Assigning every task to a person means that some is looking after it making sure that it gets done, even if the actual work is done by someone else.

EVERY meeting ends with action items

Very rarely will you have a meeting that doesn’t require some task, action, or follow up. After every meeting I jump into Asana and document notes in a conversation and add tasks to the list.

EVERY task goes in

If it needs to get done, no matter how small, the task goes into Asana. No joke I have added in “eat lunch” to my personal tasks before.

EVERY task starts with an action word

Tasks are more likely to get done when it is clear what the action is. It also makes it easier to break the project down into small manageable chunks.

Summary

My favorite part about managing design projects in Asana with my clients is the ability to assign tasks. In my experience mistakes and missed deadlines are a result of poor communication and not having clarity about what needs to be done. Every project is made up of lots of tiny tasks and Asana helps me track every single one.

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