At Asana we strive to avoid work about work. We work to foster processes that naturally create accountability and visibility, rather than requiring micromanagement (or heroing) to ensure that things get done. Monitoring email from production didn’t meet any of these goals.
So, what exactly was happening? Production email used to all go to a mailing list that forwarded to every engineer. Because we got so many production emails and only people who were on call had to deal with it, most people filtered them. This meant that no one could tell which messages were handled, which led to micromanagement and a lot of ignored emails – which contributed to having too many emails. In short, it was dysfunctional and did not embody our vision of a productive, efficient team.
To improve the situation with production email we began forwarding all of it into an Asana project visible to the whole team. Each message becomes a task and all of the normal benefits of Asana apply: the people who are on call can follow the project and complete tasks, assign them, or close them as duplicates as appropriate. Everyone else on the team can see whether there’s a backlog of unprocessed email, creating accountability and an incentive to stay current.
We think that this is a general solution and have started using it to ensure that we respond to security disclosures about third-party software that we use. We’ll post more in the future about how we use Asana to track the issues that we find when we triage this incoming-email project.
Would this be useful to your team? If so, you can set this up easily: check here for instructions on how to forward email to a specific project in Asana. Make sure that you have a user in your workspace with an email address that matches the address for your mailing list. This is how we know that you intend for email from this address to be accepted into your workspace. You can do more powerful integrations using our API but this is a simple way to start.
One of the great things about working at Asana is that changes that we make to the product directly improve our own processes. We are excited to share these improvements with the world. We’d love to hear of ways that you can think of to improve your processes with Asana–let us know in the comments.