How Asana uses work management for organisational planning


Caeleigh MacNeil

Nov 21, 2023
Caeleigh MacNeil

Rita Khayat is an expert at managing complex, company-wide programs. As Asana’s Head of PMO for Strategy and Operations, Khayat is responsible for keeping business-critical goals on track. She does this with clear processes, 20+ years of experience, and a knack for using Asana to its full potential.

Khayat’s team is responsible for four main business areas within the CIO org:

  1. Strategic planning and execution
  2. Program and project management
  3. Operational and change management
  4. Leadership and organizational development

Together, these responsibilities span many different teams and require a high level of cross-functional coordination. For example, Khayat’s team recently orchestrated an update to Asana’s product strategy—an initiative that required input from engineering, research and development, marketing, design, and more.

Want to know how her team did it? Here are Khayat’s secrets to achieving business goals and keeping important work on track.

Providing visibility at every level

Khayat’s role requires her to coordinate with both individual teams and C-suite executives. That means she needs to see work in two different ways: (1) a detailed view to help team leads manage their roadmaps and resources, and (2) a bird’s-eye view to help executives understand progress at a glance. "Governance is crucial, which entails providing visibility to the right people at the right time," Khayat remarks. "Stakeholders require varying levels of detail depending on their role."

Her secret? Asana portfolios, which lets her group related projects (and other portfolios) in one central command hub. This helps stakeholders track progress towards goals and monitor the health of key initiatives in one place. For example, Khayat created a “leadership hub” portfolio to keep Saket Srivastava, Asana’s CIO, informed on activities within the CIO organization. From this overarching hub, Srivastava can quickly monitor the progress and impact of each program on company objectives. "In my discussions with Saket, my job is to provide the visibility he requires to ensure our execution aligns with our plans," explains Khayat. "Should any issues arise, he needs immediate visibility to make informed decisions."

Stakeholders who need a more granular analysis can dive into individual team portfolios within the leadership hub. There they can see specific team initiatives and understand how these align with broader company goals. They can also track milestones, deliverables, responsibilities, timelines, and business impact across every project their team is working on. As a result, everyone can understand the full picture of ongoing program activities and their relevance to overall strategic goals.

Standardizing best practices

According to Khayat, structure and organization are essential to keep the business running smoothly. Teams need clear, standardized processes so they can kick off work the right way every time. Her go-to tool for standardization is Asana templates—ready-made guides that outline all the steps needed to spin up a new project.

"When we begin execution, we rely on a structured approach based on these templates," Khayat explains. "This ensures that best practices are integrated from the start, allowing us to then tailor the process to meet the unique demands of each project." Khayat’s team uses templates that list out all of the deliverables needed to complete a project—including dependencies and task owners. This system helps them kick off work instantly and automatically assign tasks to the right people, at the right time.

Khayat’s team also leverages Asana’s workflow standardization features to create consistent processes and uniform reporting across the organization, without lots of hands-on work. Asana lets leaders create, view, and edit workflows in one place—then apply those workflows across many different projects. For example, they can specify project sections, custom fields to add, rules to apply, and task templates to use, ensuring consistency and efficiency in project management practices.

Adapting to change

Khayat knows that in business, change is a given. That’s why her team builds a clear decision-making process into every project. Whenever change is needed, like an adjustment to a project’s scope, timeline, or cost, there are predefined decision-makers who can help chart a path forward.

"We have a steering committee for each project or program," Khayat explains. "They are responsible for making the final decision whenever a change is proposed." For example, a recent Asana product initiative included a form to collect change proposals. If a decision was needed, the form would automatically assign a task to the right person on the steering committee to make that choice.

Projects and programs in Khayat’s organization also include a systematic approach to document decisions and identify risks. And thanks to the team’s use of templates, they can standardize this structure across the organization, ensuring consistency and clarity in how teams handle project changes and risks.

Tracking performance

For Asana’s Enterprise Technology and IT department, robust reporting is essential to ensure teams are hitting their targets. By continuously monitoring the performance of key business initiatives, Khayat can help teams course-correct and adjust resources to get work done on time.

For example, Khayat’s team uses an Asana dashboard to oversee the resolution of support tickets. This tool lets them see a breakdown of incident reports within a certain time period, so leaders can quickly check if projects are progressing as planned. And for more detailed analysis, Khayat’s team uses a Tableau integration. "This integration enables us to create sophisticated dashboards in Tableau that extract data directly from Asana," says Khayat, highlighting the capability to conduct in-depth evaluations to drive decision-making and strategy refinement.

Allocating resources across teams

Achieving goals comes down to one important ingredient: manpower. That’s why Khayat’s team prioritizes resource planning to prevent overwork and ensure everyone spends their time on what’s important. To do this they need visibility into every team’s workload, now and in the future.

Asana’s capacity planning feature is Khayat’s key to unlocking this visibility. With capacity planning, leaders can look into the future and see what’s on their team’s plate—then allocate work for the upcoming month based on each individual’s total capacity. You can even see what projects people are working on, the percentage of time those projects take up, and who is overallocated. And if a change is needed, leaders can easily drag and drop tasks from one person to another.

Khayat’s team has different views to see capacity at different levels. For example, they have one overarching view across the entire department. "For someone like myself, there is an overarching view that covers the entire department, providing visibility across the CIO organization," Khayat explains. "Additionally, we have more specific views for each team, allowing leads to access a detailed breakdown of their team’s capacity and ongoing projects." When a lead makes a change at the team level, it’s also reflected in the overall view, so there’s no need to duplicate work.

Plan for success with Asana

By capturing all work in Asana, Khayat’s team has total visibility across the CIO organization—including roadmaps, workloads, goal progress, and more. With that insight they can keep the business on track to meet critical objectives, faster.

Learn how Asana can help your company coordinate teams and processes across your organization.