How Asana hopes to purge the scourge of email

Asana is a service created to minimize the need for workplace email by serving as a one-stop shop for assigning work, sharing ideas, posting important updates and tracking the progress of projects.

Here's how Asana works:

__ The service is free for teams of up to 15 workers. The company sells subscriptions for a version of the service that gives access to more than 15 people. Asana says some companies are already paying to have several hundred employees on the service.

__ Asana users create tasks or projects that can be communally shared on a main page that acts somewhat like a social network. Workers can comment on the posts. A manager can also add workers who need to "follow" the thread, even long after a project started. Workers can also "unfollow" a project when they no longer need to be part of an ongoing discussion.

__ Various projects and tasks can be displayed in order of their priority. Deadlines can be defined and managers can track the status of the work.

__ The service's controls can be set to give access to contractors or key partners outside the company. By the same token, the controls can be managed to limit which internal employees have access to discussions.

__ Asana users can signify that they have seen a comment or agree with an idea by posting a "heart" next to it, which is similar to a Facebook "like."

__ When information about a project needs to be kept confidential, employees can communicate through private messages.