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Task management software startup Asana today is announcing the launch of a feature called Boards, a tool that lets end users track all the tasks involved in projects in boards, using lists and cards that visually convey the status of work. Fellow startup Trello has become popular by offering an implementation of this type of software, known as kanban boards. Now Asana is adding its twist on kanban boards into its own service.

Using Asana’s new Boards feature — which is rolling out now on Asana’s Android, iOS, and web apps — won’t mean racking up a bunch of tasks that are isolated from projects companies already track in Asana. New tasks on Boards can be added to existing projects, and Asana can automatically update projects when users make changes to items in Boards, Asana product marketing lead Devon Watts explained in a blog post. It’s also possible to refer back to Asana users, projects, tasks, and conversations in the new Boards feature.

While that’s sensible, it doesn’t quite explain why Asana didn’t just integrate Trello or even an open-source alternative into the product. Here’s what Asana cofounder Justin Rosenstein had to say on the matter, per a company spokesperson:

Going forward, boards are going to be a first-class part of the Asana experience. In order to deliver the best possible experience, boards need to be woven deeply into the fabric of Asana as a native experience. Embedding an existing boards product would have led to an experience that was inconsistent (e.g. different privacy models depending on whether you’re looking at a list, calendar, or board), incomplete (e.g. dependencies wouldn’t appear when you were looking at a board card), and confusing (e.g. comments in one product wouldn’t show up consistently in the other).

Our mission is to create the best work-tracking software that balances ease and power. To do that, we need to create a single system that unifies all your work in one place. While we believe many features can and should be done via integrations, the core work-tracking views (like lists, calendars, and boards) deserve to be native Asana features.

Not that Asana is unusual in incorporating a Trello-style tool into its app. GitLab and GitHub have both done this in the past few months. And Microsoft’s new team collaboration app, Teams, can include the Microsoft Planner task management app.

San Francisco-based Asana has more than 13,000 customers. Early-access customers Instacart, Lyft, Stance, and USAA Bank have had a chance to use Boards, Watts wrote in the blog post.


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