“It’s a beautiful thing when a thousand pieces arrive at a factory and they get assembled into one product that gets shipped to a customer,” says Andy Cochrane, director of marketing for the San Francisco-based Oru Kayak, which makes light, foldable kayaks. But two years ago, that beautiful thing was routinely derailed by missing, late or incorrect components -- meaning months-long delays and many irritated customers.
Cochrane started at Oru in early 2015 and got involved in the company’s manufacturing side. Why the constant errors? The 10 people on the team were always traveling and not coordinating with one another. They had adopted the cloud-based project management software Asana -- which allows teams to see what tasks need to be accomplished when, and by whom -- but weren’t using it. Cochrane strongly encouraged people to use it.
Oru’s manufacturing or shipping delays nearly disappeared. “Asana helped us track and communicate component lead times, changes in product development schedules and complex assemblies,” says Cochrane. (According to Asana cofounder Justin Rosenstein, the average customer reports that the software makes them 45 percent more efficient.) And it cost Oru nothing: Asana is free for teams of up to 15 people. Larger groups pay $8.33 a month per user.
A Second Opinion
Asana has many competitors, including Trello, Wrike and Zoho. Rachel Burger, project management specialist at Capterra, an Arlington, Va.-based company that matches users with software, recommends any of them for small or medium-size businesses. She suggests trying out no more than three, so as not to get overwhelmed, before picking one. Among the things to look for: Does it integrate with other apps you use, like Dropbox and Slack? And does it offer the free storage space you’ll need?