By Christine Holcombe
I try to limit the number of tools I ask my team to use. We’re already using Basecamp for deliverable sharing, Google Calendar for scheduling, Asana for task lists, Google Drive for our “live” documents, and Toggl for time tracking.
In an effort to get rid of at least one tool (due to confusion experienced by new employees and frustration expressed from some of our veteran team members), I’ve identified that the most obvious solution is to combine our tools for to-dos with time tracking. The only problem there is that I am hopelessly devoted to Toggl (my company has three years, 100 clients and 4,000 hours’ worth of projects logged with them), but our Sr. UX Researcher has a codependent relationship with her Asana list (sorry, Valle, the secret is out).
The Integration Tease
You can imagine the seat dance I did when I learned that Toggl has a new(ish) extension for Asana (fists pumping, feet stomping).
Unfortunately, my victory dance was premature. The Toggl extension is too limited for how my team uses the tool. Mostly because we use the crap out of Toggl. We enter a task description, a project, and a tag on all time entries that we log. The extension for Asana pulls only the number of hours tracked and the task description into Toggl, meaning my teammates would still have to navigate to Toggl to enter all of the other data.
I was bummed to learn how marginal the functionality was for the Toggl/Asana integration. Then I realized that my team uses Toggl in a very detailed (anal retentive?) way, and the Asana extension has been created for a more casual user of Toggl.
My experience with Asana and Toggl is similar to other app integrations I’ve tried in the past. Integration typically doesn’t facilitate full functionally between two products. If integration were supposed to be seamless and robust at the same time, there would already be a product on the market that handles both pieces of functionality effectively.
Or so I thought.
Then I discovered the Harvest app in Asana. Boom.
The Harvest/Asana integration allows a user to capture the project, the task description and the task type, which is exactly what I was hoping the Toggl extension would do. Harvest has taken a more in-depth approach to app integration and effectively married time tracking to task management. This is the type of integration that every girl dreams of.
I reviewed Harvest once before, but I found no need to leave Toggl because the basic functionality is the same. The level of specificity allowed by this integration is compelling enough to make me question my long allegiance to Toggl.
Harvest’s badass Asana app, plus the need to consolidate the number of tools we use, plus repeated grumblings from my team about a few usability hurdles in Toggl, means I am seriously considering making the leap from Toggl to Harvest.
This is not a decision I’m making lightly, and there are many variables to consider when changing a fundamental piece of project management like time tracking (team adoption, cost, data migration, to name a few).
What we’ve decided to do is pilot the Harvest/Asana integration with a small project we’re starting this week to see how it goes. We’ll have our Sr. UX Researcher, our Interaction Designer, and our newest team member all using the new system so that we can get a spectrum of perspectives (both old and new employees, both researchers and designers) on what works and what doesn’t work.
Who would have thought that a simple feature like app integration could turn the whole bus around? I’ll let you know how it works out.
A former teacher, Dangerous Minds–style, Christine now rocks project management at Design For Use. Her interests include playing the tambourine in her family band, competing in triathlons, and taking care of her 18 month old son, who is much harder to manage than any of her clients or coworkers. Follow her on twitter @holcombe5000.