End of Episode 9 summary: Oct 2013-Jan 2014
March 13th, 2014
At the end of every “Episode” of work at Asana, each team writes a summary of the work they’ve accomplished to share with the company. We’ve synthesized the highlights from those documents into this post to help you follow along with our progress.
Episode 9 was one of the best periods of growth and momentum in the company’s short history. The product improved in big and small ways, and the business is not only thriving, but accelerating. Within the episode, we built upon existing strengths — like feature development, supporting our customers, engineering process, and telling our story to the press. Some areas that used to be weaknesses — like concisely communicating our value — became strengths. And plans to address other areas for improvement — like mobile — are well underway.
Our progress internally has led to more love from our users, increased user growth, and more premium customers. Not only do we continue to be the go-to solution for the technology industry, with enthusiastic customers like Uber, Dropbox, and Pinterest, but we are increasingly trusted within more traditional industries. This growth enabled us to exceed our E9 growth and revenue goals, an important measure of our success in enabling more teams to work together with less effort.
For the first time since the original Asana beta, we introduced a new primary view of projects into the product: Calendars. This was the #1 most requested feature, and the #1 most applauded feature we’ve ever shipped. Some of you even threw dance parties in its honor. You’ve told us that being able to visualize the tasks and milestones that make up your goals increases clarity and confidence in your plans, which is a benefit we’ve experienced internally as well.
Our growth team released IE support near the beginning of the episode (after a couple months of focused work in the prior episode) and then focused on creating a smooth onboarding experience for new teams. We also shipped a bunch of leveraged polish features, such as a collapsable left pane and the ability to configure and save customized project views. These steady product improvements continue to unlock value for users and allow them to confidently adopt Asana for more and more use cases.
You depend on us every day to realize your visions, so a large part of our engineering team is dedicated to ensuring the delivery of a stable and fast service. A series of short outages (many the result of underlying hardware failures and some self-inflicted) this episode meant we spent more time than usual on stability. Partly, we fought fires, but mostly we planned for how to ensure we wouldn’t need to in the future. On the speed side, we focused on finding and eliminating the worst performance experiences, as well as developing our caching strategies to improve the speed of interactions users perform the most often. In both areas, we still have a lot of work to do.
The rest of the product team spent Episode 9 focused more on the future. Our mobile team is working on developing brand new apps, designed to support the workflows people need most when they’re away from their desk, with beauty and performance that matches the desktop experience. We’ve heard from you, and agree at Asana, that we should be investing a lot more in mobile, so this is also the part of the team that is growing the fastest (and we’d love to have even more help).
The design team spent some months developing an entirely new visual system for the application, which will be used for the new mobile applications and is already integrated into the new Guide (see below); later in the year, we’ll bring the new design to the desktop app as well. Another group prototyped new functionality to enable richer forms of communication. Though the initial version was not compelling enough to make public, manifesting part of the vision gave us confidence about the direction we actually want to go. Also, the prototype is pretty fun to use internally.
The largest gap in our product team efforts right now is Platform. A lot of our customers have leveraged the REST API to develop internal tools and many companies have created new products or integrations to extend our core product. They would like to do a lot more, however, than what’s currently possible, and we’d like them to do more too. We intend to start a permanent program to support that growth very soon, but we’re focused on manifesting the product priorities mentioned above first.
Customer Success & Marketing
Teams across the company collaborated to publish the brand new Guide, which helps you understand how to get the most out of Asana. Sprinkled throughout are a series of inspiring new videos produced this episode (like the one that helps you introduce Asana to your team). We also send these out to new users in our increasingly helpful getting started email campaign and regularly publish new videos on our blog.
Our user operations team was one of the primary contributors to that knowledge base, synthesizing a lot of the best practices they learn while working on help and feedback cases. Support has always been one of our strengths, thanks to quick turnaround times and high customer satisfaction rates. During this episode, we experimented with different ways to provide information to users, like via screencast videos and curated FAQs, as well as with how we aggregate and relay feedback back to the product team.
We’ve also followed up on the success of our first Customer Success event by growing that team and onboarding many more teams into the program. Everyone who viewed the video from that night told us that we had dramatically expanded their imaginations about how they could use the product and we’re looking forward to publishing a lot more public content like that.
Strong marketing materials and support programs help teams get started more quickly, and ensure they feel empowered to explain the value they’re getting to others: Asana is the best way to achieve “teamwork without email.” Increasingly, we see users and the press explaining Asana that way too, and we’re considered to be one of the top productivity apps by both Lifehacker and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to generating great coverage of product news, we told more of our story around the future beyond email and published some of our thoughts on how to run teams and achieve personal productivity.
The team expanded faster than ever this episode, with 19 new asanas accepting offers (including 7 engineering interns), which massively increases the surface area of what we can accomplish. These members of the team have already started:
To prepare for this growth, we started work on a new floor of the office, which we’ll move to in May, and set up to expand our culinary operations. We also have a robust corporate finance model, a Board-approved 2014 budget, and a satisfying new benefits plan.
One big team highlight from the episode was Thankshacking, a 5-day event that involved building new features, beautifying our office, shooting the video about the love story version of Asana’s origins, and collaborating on a feast. (As an aside, our conference rooms are all named after activities that require teamwork, like ‘Potluck’.)
You can learn a lot more about the culture inside Asana by going through the slide deck we prepared for SlideShare’s Culture Code Campaign in January.
In Episode 9, we reached a new level of maturity in setting and achieving ambitious goals – nearing our organizational potential. We’re excited about our plans for Episode 10, which build on our momentum and help more teams do great things.