How I use Asana to help online course creators and coaches launch successful online courses

If you read myWhich is the best project management tool to manage online course launches?’ blog post you know why Asana is my preferred project management tool and my #1 choice for managing projects.

In that blog post, I also talk about why you’d want to use a PM tool and why I’d pick Asana over Trello or ClickUp. It also  includes a detailed list of the functionality and aesthetics that I love so much about Asana. You can read it here.


Projects can get really complex especially with all the many different variables that you have to think about and take into account. And so with that complexity, you need a tool that is robust enough to handle the complexity but also simplify.


And this is exactly what you get with Asana.


Asana provides the structure needed for seamless and easy execution so you can go from IDEA → GOAL → STRATEGY → PLAN → EXECUTION → RESULTS knowing you’ve covered all the bases!


In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my exact process for planning and managing client launches.

Let’s get into it

We’ll use the launch of a course as an example.


It always starts with an idea.

A client comes to me and tells me that they have a launch coming up and they are usually quite clear on what they want to do so my job is to pull it all together and make it happen.


Next comes the goal. What are we working towards with this launch? And what do we want to achieve?

And so for example, the client sets a goal of…

  1. 60 new students and with the course priced at $1997, your projected revenue is $119,820
  2. 50% email list growth
  3. 35% Social media follower increase


So how do we achieve this goal for the launch?… What is the strategy?

Are we doing a challenge, a series of webinars or video series?

How do we build the launch list?… A new lead magnet?… Ads?…

And so we may decide on…

  1. 3 webinars held on different days and timezones.

  2. You also come up with a solid content strategy to add value and build authority with your audience and those just coming into your world in the build up to your launch

  3. To fill the challenge with leads thereby growing your email list and SM following you decide to create a value packed lead magnet, do some Facebook ads, interviews on podcasts, leverage the audience of some of your peers by going live with them etc.


So far so good right?


Now here comes the bit that most people give very little thought to, which is a shame because this is the most critical bit which is to Plan.


I always say that setting goals and coming up with strategies to achieve those goals is all well and good. However, your success is determined by the quality of your plan.


This is because achieving your goal is ALL about taking ACTION and IMPLEMENTING!


Having a great plan makes taking ACTION and IMPLEMENTING straightforward. It eliminates confusion and overwhelm. You know exactly what to do and when. You also know how long things will take and who is doing what.


A good plan has to have the following elements:

  • Easy to follow
  • Easy to track progress

  • Easy to identify any gaps and plug them


Important: If you have a team (or if you will be using contractors), It is important that you involve your team in the planning process as they will be much closer to their own tasks.  They will be able to give realistic timelines and identify any gaps that might derail the launch.


But before we get planning, we need to define the scope of the launch or project. We want to make sure that we do only the things that are necessary and within that, all the bases are covered.


A 5 day challenge launch looks completely different to a video series or webinar, and the resources and skills needed for certain elements are completely different too.


So you want to be careful to define the scope, figure out the resources or tools needed, skills within your team and if you need to hire a team member with a specific skill etc.


Once the scope is established, then comes my favourite part…Planning


First I  break the strategy down into deliverables. For example, a deliverable for this type of launch would be the webinar itself and all the tasks or activities that are necessary to execute it.

I then take each deliverable and break it down into granular tasks needed to produce it.

For example, the Sales Page becomes… Create Sales Page and could be further broken down into Design sales page template → Approve template →Write copy → Approve copy → Add sales copy → Integrate with checkout page → Test Integration → Make sales page live.


Breaking each deliverable down this way ensures that…

  1. The project is less overwhelming and more manageable
  2. All bases are covered and nothing is missed
  3. As you plan, you can easily identify anything that could go wrong and factor any mitigating actions into your plan (risk management is an area of planning that is often overlooked but taking the time to plan this way means that you are more likely to consider risks and challenges)
  4. The team member that is best placed to complete each task is assigned to it
  5. A realistic and achievable timeline is given to complete each task. This is super important to avoid burnout by making sure that the deliverables can be completed within the allocated time.

How to Create and Manage Tasks - Best Practice

Identify and Plan for Risks

A risk is anything that may delay or derail a task or the project as a whole.


Brainstorm all the things you think could go wrong and come up with how you will mitigate against those things if they did happen.


In other words, come up with back up plans.


For example, your graphic designer that will be creating some of the design assets is due to have a baby around the time of your launch. So if there is any delay in getting the requirements and resources to them by a certain date, they may not be able to complete the design.


You may also want to plan for the possibility that the baby might come earlier than expected.


A mitigating action for this could be to have another graphic designer on standby ready to jump in if the risk materialises.


To manage this risk you would;

  • Create a record of it as a task
  • Document the mitigating action in the description field
  • Track and update the risk all within the task.


This makes it easy to manage everything associated with each risk in one place. During the life of the project, other risks will come up and they should be recorded and managed the same way as described.

Assign Owners

Once all the deliverables are broken down into tasks, I would then begin to assign owners to each task. This may seem really obvious but it is important to consider the skills needed to complete each task and make sure you are matching the right team member to each task.

Add Due Dates

A crucial part of the planning process is correctly estimating how long things take and setting realistic due dates.


You don’t want to give too little time where you are then rushing to get things done and often at the expense of quality. You also want to be efficient and make sure you are not allowing too much time. There has to be a balance.


Estimating accurately largely comes with experience, and even as a project management professional with over a decade of experience under my belt, it can be a challenge sometimes especially if there isn’t any past data to refer to.


However, I have some tools along with my experience to help when estimating.

How to Set Realistic Due Dates

  1. Look at data from when you have produced similar work in the past and estimate each task accordingly.

  2. Ask team members or contractors for their best-case, most likely and worst-case estimates, then take an average of those 3 estimates. Make sure they take the requirements and quality criteria they have been given into consideration when giving those estimates

  3. If you don’t have any of the reference points mentioned above then take a ‘best guess’ and build up your data points over time to help you estimate better in the future.


Note: it is important to always add some buffer or wriggle room to your plan to avoid or accommodate unexpected delays especially on critical tasks!

A few things to also bear in mind when estimating…

Coming up with an accurate enough estimate comes with experience and even though I have hundreds of plans under my belt at this point, I learn something new that I apply to other plans, with each plan I create. This is because every business and individual behind each business different.

Layout and Format

Most of my clients are using a project management tool properly in this way for the first time when they work with me and so the set up of the plan is really important. Remember that one of the elements of a good plan is that it should be easy to follow.


A plan is typically laid out in sections and you have a section for each deliverable but I find it’s easier to have it laid out according to the timeline.


The typical lifecycle of a launch is usually  8 weeks to  12 weeks.


So what I would do is have a section for each week and then add the tasks that are to be completed that week to each section.


This creates a nice flow and makes it really easy to track progress.


If you need help getting a head start with using Asana to plan your launches, including creating tasks, assigning owners, setting due dates with realistic estimates etc., then get on the waitlist for my launch templates bundle. It contains templates of the exact plans I use for clients including templates for every kind of launch.


This is where the doing begins…Executing the strategy and plan.


The day to day activities and running of the launch, managing risks or challenges, gathering data and metrics, analysing data for informed decision making and necessary pivots, completing tasks, tracking progress, reporting…all the things.


These activities are already set up as tasks within the plan in Asana, with owners assigned and due dates as to when they need to happen. All that needs to happen is to follow the plan as laid out in Asana.


At this stage of the launch, the entire team lives and works out of Asana. If a task is not in Asana it doesn’t get done!


Typically the Launch Manager manages the execution of the launch  (if you don’t have one, assign a team member as the Launch Manager).


Why? Because each team member is focussed on their tasks and work and you want one person to have an overview of everything that is happening.


It is important to have a kick off meeting and agree how the team will work in Asana and how the tool will be used to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration.


Ideally all communication should be happening within the tasks and in Asana so that there is an audit trail and a record that can be referenced for future launches.

Two Main Components of Executing the Launch

Plan Management

The Launch Manager owns the plan and is ultimately responsible for its maintenance and execution. Team members are focussed on their tasks and so you need the one person who has a complete overview of all the work happening and making sure that dependencies are identified and managed.


If there needs to be a change made or additional tasks added, then you want it to be signed off by the person who has an overview of everything else as any change could impact the rest of the plan.

Team Management

Daily check-ins and communication with the team is great with Asana. And as I mentioned before, keeping these conversations in Asana means that the knowledge stays within the tool and can be referenced in future. The team can ask each other questions and each other updated on the status of tasks by using the features in Asana.


Weekly team meetings happen in Asana as well. The weekly running agenda, notes from each meeting etc all happens within Asana. I love it because prior to the meeting, I would link specific tasks that will be discussed in the meeting into the agenda so that I can literally click on the task during the meeting and all the details including the current and past updates on that task can be easily referenced while it’s being discussed.

Guiding Principles of Launch Execution in Asana

Daily Updates

  • Update tasks with latest info
  • Update risks with latest info
  • Update the plan with changes and communicate any changes to the team
  • Mark tasks complete as soon as they are completed
  • Attach completed files including links when you’re marking the task complete so team members can find your work and know it’s done.

Weekly Status Updates

Every week, usually on a Friday, we would have a status update meeting as a team and review the current week. We would:

  • Review the risks and update progress
  • Identify and document new risks
  • Acknowledge and celebrate what has been accomplished
  • Discuss key tasks coming up in the next week
  • Discuss any tasks that are blocked and might require additional support with completion
  • Communicate and update the team on any changes
  • Review data and track against goals
  • Discuss and make necessary pivots based on the data


I like to do this on a Thursday or Friday  so that when everyone starts on Monday, they know exactly what they should be working on and can get stuck right in!


This is the final piece of the puzzle – the Launch debrief and lessons learned.


In my corporate career as a Project Manager, a project is not finished until we do a lessons learned exercise and another does not begin until we review lessons learned from similar projects.


As the Launch Manager, I’m prepping for the debrief through the course of the launch.


Gathering and analysing the data, and constantly tracking against the goals start at the beginning of the launch so that we can either exploit opportunities to maximise results or make a pivot if necessary.


I am constantly pulling information from updates and comments that the team members have made on tasks and adding these to my debrief notes.


Doing these throughout the lifecycle of the launch makes it so much easier to pull the debrief together at the end of a launch.


I would usually pull a deck together to talk through with the team as I go through the agenda during the debrief meeting.

The debrief covers every area of the launch…

  • Performance against the set goals
  • Review of the tools and platforms used
  • How well the team collaborated together
  • How well did we communicate as a team
  • What went really well and we definitely want to keep for future launches
  • How what went well can be optimised and improved on in the next launch
  • What didn’t go so well – do we want to completely scrap or make improvements to identified gaps


After the debrief meeting I would make a note of the recommendations and add them into the top section of the template plan for the next launch. This so that the recommendations and lessons learned are not forgotten but incorporated when the times comes to build out the plan for the next launch


Note: Make sure this gets scheduled as close to the close cart as possible while all the lessons learned are still fresh in the minds of everyone involved in the launch!


So there you have it! This is my exact process for using Asana to help clients bring their launch dreams to life and manage their launches.


You can use this same process to manage and execute any project in your business.


The process and principles are the same and can be adapted to align with the size of the project and team you are working on.

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resources recap

Throughout this post, I rounded up some free (and paid) resources that can support you in launching, so I just want to recap them here for easy access


I want to make sure you actually implement this in your business so enter your email address below and you’ll get a PDF of this blog post that you can refer to over and over again.

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Sign up for my READY SET BASICS WITH ASANA. A mini training series I created that walks you through setting up your Asana and demo all the amazing features of Asana mentioned in this article. It is delivered to you via email over 3 days.


In this blog post, I talk about why you’d want to use a Project Management tool in your business and for your launches. I also do a mini review of the popular project management tools out there and why Asana is my preferred choice. The post also includes a detailed list of the functionality and aesthetics of Asana that I love so much


If you are looking for a head start to using Asana to manage launches, this template bundle includes template plans and framework for every type of launch, process templates including meeting agendas and reporting templates, and a Best Practice guide to managing and executing launches successfully.

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