🪄 Add a new Custom Field type: Reference / Relation / Lookup Field

Imagine being able to create a custom field in Asana based on:

  • a list of existing tasks within a project
  • a list of existing projects within a portfolio

and then have those lists available as either a single-select or a multi-select field to be added to a project or portfolio, just like any other custom field! :magic_wand:

I have been dreaming of such an ability for sometime now so I thought I’d create a mockup to wet your appetites and hopefully nudge the Asana team towards this direction. :pray:

The Dream: Add reference field

:one: Name your field title
:two: Choose between single-select or multi-select
:three: Reference a list of tasks from a project or list of projects from a portfolio
:four: Add sort to the order of how these values from these references will appear in the field’s dropdown
:five: Filter which tasks/projects will appear in the dropdown

The above mockup is based on some existing elements within Asana (such as Reporting and Dashboards) and also from competitors that already have this feature - no need to mention them, you know who they are :sweat_smile:

A very basic use case / scenario

The below example is a light CRM or database where a list of ‘Contacts’ is cross-referenced with a list of ‘Companies’ of which the contacts are employees of.

Action
In the ‘Contacts’ list you choose from a single-select dropdown field to select the ‘:office: Company’ they work for.

Result
In the ‘Companies’ list, the ‘:bust_in_silhouette: Employees’ field is auto-populated with the referenced value from the ‘:office: Company’ field in the Contacts list.

And vice versa, in the ‘Companies’ list, when you select from a multi-select field the ‘:bust_in_silhouette: Employees’ that work for that company, then the ‘:office: Company’ field is auto-populated in the ‘Contacts’ list.

Currently, the closest you can get to this can only be achieved using dependencies. However, this is not a suitable workaround and there are obvious disadvantages using dependencies:

  • task names are truncated when adding multiple dependencies, see ‘Companies (dependencies)’ below
  • cannot label the custom field to anything you want; in this case ‘:office: Company’ and ‘:bust_in_silhouette:Employees’ are more suitable than just ‘Dependencies’, see green highlights below
  • cannot choose from a dedicated dropdown menu with predetermined single-select or multi-select options (in the ‘Dependencies’ field you just search for any task)

Proposed Features

I’m no programmer but I would assume the architecture for such a feature would primarily be based on how dependencies already function and are displayed within Asana, therefore, the UI/UX expectation would be:

  • Colour coding would not be available (all fields would be grey)
  • Ability to sort the options available in the dropdowns; default would be as per List view, with the ability to sort alphabetically, last modified, creation date etc (see +Add sort in mockup above)
  • Ability to filter the available options, similar to filtering in dashboards/reporting (see +Filter in mockup above)
  • Auto-update available values based on current list of tasks within the referenced project / list of projects within the referenced portfolio
  • Rules support; same treatment as single-select and multi-select triggers & actions (is that too greedy? :sweat_smile: )

What do you think? You can do this Asana! :muscle:

7 Likes

+1 from here. Important functionality in order to be able to follow the pace of Monday, Notion etc on the database side.

I want to use Asana as my CRM. For this, I believe the way forward is to have following projects:

  • Companies
  • People
  • Funnel

Each project would then contain tasks, each representing a company, person or deal.
Subsequently, I would like to link one person to a company - or several companies. And a company can of course have several people. And a deal could have several companies and people linked.

These would not be subtasks, but linked tasks. A snippet of the functionality already exists with the @reference function, but it’s not enough.

Monday does this quite well (see screenshot). I understand their data model is different, but this might ‘simply’ be a matter of making the already built database relationships more explicit in the user interface. It would then need to be available in the project list view, and within an opened task window.


Note: Not a solution but marked as such to elevate a key reply

Welcome, @SimonSays,

Until/if Asana implements your request (and don’t forget to add your vote a the top with the purple Vote button), you can do the following right now:

In each project’s List view, show (using Hide menu) the Projects field.

Use mult-homing to establish the relationships:

  • Multi-home a person task into the person’s company project
  • Multi-home a company task into each company employee person’s project
  • Etc.

I believe that enables you to see everything you marked in the screenshot. However they will be lumped together (People, Company, etc.) in the Projects column (also shown as multiple lines in the task detail pane). I recommend using a naming convention and a unique prefix emoji for each type of project so you can pick them out easily. Not perfect, but functional.

Hope that helps,

Larry

1 Like

Hi @SimonSays , I’m hoping Asana adds this functionality soon as it will unlock a lot of new potential. This is why I already created a feature request for this:

If you like, I could merge your post into it to consolidate votes!

1 Like

Hi Larry - I’ve tried that extensively, but for the use case I have it won’t work. The relation needs to be many-to-many - and the relation is not 1 task to multiple projects, but 1 task to another task. But thanks for your suggestion.

1 Like

You described it much better than I could, Richard. Feel free to merge my request into yours !

Do you have any feedback from Tableau on this at all ?

1 Like

Hi @SimonSays , I’m not sure I quite understand your question re Tableau. I’m not familiar with it but there is an Asana integration available here.

Sorry, my bad - late night response. I meant to ask whether you have any feedback from Asana, not Tableau ?

But I was looking at the Tableau integration, indeed. It’s unfortunately limited to business users, and while I’d love to pay for business for myself, my whole organization has no need to be upgraded, and thus the cost becomes prohibitive.

Unfortunately no, Asana does not publicly reveal their roadmap so there is no way of knowing until they make an early announcement in the Ambassador Forum.

Upvoting!

I’ve been hoping Asana would add something like this for years, unfortunately it seems like connected work links are the closest they’ve gotten.

While it’s not as ideal as the relational field you noted above, even allowing internal hyperlinks to show up in a custom text field with the task/project name (like it does in the rich text of a description or comment) could be a great short-term fix.

1 Like

Right now we only have “Blocked by” or “Blocking” which is great from a purely linear task pov, but we don’t have things like “Is related to” or some of the other dependancies that you can find in Jira.

Apart from an expanded workflow for projects, this could really help to enhance Asana as a CRM. For example, I have a Contacts team were I have various projects based on wide fields of expertise. I work in music production, so I have teams for Musicians, Production, Marketing, Studios, Visual Art, Venues & Promoters, and Other. I also have another team called Sales with a project Prospects (although I could just as easily have that in Contacts it doesn’t really matter), where I have a list of all the artists and bands I want to work with. What would be great is if I could link various contacts (tasks) together across projects e.g. with an artist or even between production staff.

There are so many reasons for this, most importantly having a visual of who they already know in the industry. Another great advantage would be to categorize production staff into groups of people that have worked together and of course production staff that have worked with particular artists. This way I can retain some level of consistency, subject to staff availability across artist releases.

Another way this could work is if we had the ability to add tasks from a multi-select custom field, this I think would be the best way to handle something like this problem.

Right now the solution is to have both a dropdown custom field with statuses and a text field to put a task link.

2 Likes

Love this! Need a “related to” dependency! Just trying to connect the dots a bit more between tasks that have some common ground that we need to keep visibility of.

1 Like

Ok cool. Thanks for the info :slight_smile:

Seems like this feature is definitely in demand, have Asana indicated it will be implemented?

Not that we know of.

Frequently I find that two or more tasks are related in some fashion - though one task not necessarily blocking or blocked by another. By having a “Related To” dependency more advanced relationships between tasks can be articulated as well as making it easier to discover other related tasks.

Hi @Aaron_Paul, thanks for providing this feedback! While this feature isn’t available right now, hopefully it’s something our Product team can implement in the future.

I’ll keep you posted and let you know if we have any updates :slight_smile:

In the meantime, you could create a “Related to” custom field and insert the task link in the field :slight_smile:

1 Like

I would also find this feature to be useful. +1 !