Column functions: exclude subtasks or not

The current functionality of “column function” is to take both tasks and subtasks in consideration.

Let’s take an example with the SUM function on a number column representing the Size of a task.
I have 2 inconveniences with the current functionality:

  1. if I have a task with more than 30 subtasks (not too often but it happens for almost 5% of tasks) the column function won’t work at all (known limitation)
  2. for many use-cases it makes more sense to only consider the values on the tasks and exclude subtasks (or the other way around) - but currently there seems no way to configure this - or is it?

For our example, if I put a size on the task, that is the size of the whole task; the size on a subtasks would be the size for that subtask, so it doesn’t make sense to sum them all, as the result will be doubled.
The way we accommodate our workflow is to only put values at task level, but I still have 2 minor issues:

  • we can’t keep track of subtask sizes (if we really needed)
  • but more importantly, we are still affected by point 1/ above, if a task has more than 30 subtasks (even though we don’t care about them) we still can’t get the overall size (SUM) of the tasks

Do you see any configuration I missed, any workarounds or any plans to enhance this on Asana?

Hi there, anybody has any advice on this one, please?

Hi @Lorant_Szakacs thank you for posting, I am a but confused about what you mean to be honest.
Firstly I would say that if you task has 30 subtasks that task should probably be a section with the subtasks being tasks.

By Column Function what do you mean? Are you taking about a custom field?

Hi Danielle, thank you for your reply. Let me try to be more concise.
Firstly, this is “Column Function” - the sum/average/etc per section you can get under numeric fields:

In my screenshot you can see the “Cost” and “Remaining” columns (1 task is expanded to show subtasks, that’s where you see the Cost/Remaining fields being empty) and below is the SUM for the current section.

This is really handy, but once a task has >30 subtasks (even if you don’t want to include them in calculation) you get this instead:

For your suggestion about making tasks section, that won’t work for us. In our projects we treat sections as grouping for tasks with different status (i.e. we group pending tasks in 1 section, WIP tasks in another section and done tasks in another section). Then we can see how much we done, how much is still pending by glancing on the “column function” values. :slight_smile:

Hope it is clearer now.

I could also explain why we can get tasks with over 30 subtasks, if it’s relevant for my argument…

It is related to our team’s workflow and we find this working really well. We use subtasks for different reasons:

  1. breaking down tasks in smaller chunks - optional and there will not be more than 5 such subtasks
  2. issues follow-up during review by pier and by QA (different team) - each such issue is logged as a subtask, so it can be tracked easily

For example on some complex web pages we can end up with lots of small UI and functional issues and sometimes the count of subtasks goes over 30.


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

Perhaps this hack/workaround could come in handy (requires Asana Business or Enterprise): The Actual Time Tracking field has a unique behavior with respect to column functions; kind of the best of both worlds:



I’m not sure if you might be able to exploit that for your needs, but it’s worth keeping this in the bag of tricks at least.

And regarding your use of subtasks in your workflow: I totally support that approach and often it’s the only or best option; there’s nothing wrong with using so many subtasks (except for the unfortunate Asana limitation here) for intermediate to advanced workflows with trained users.

I voted for your request because it would be great to have the flexibility.

Also, please don’t forget to vote yourself at the top with the purple vote button.



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Hi @lpb ,

Thanks a lot for your kind reply, Larry.
I didn’t know about the Time Tracking field’s behavior and it’s indeed a promising one.
However, and maybe that’s why I didn’t hear about it, we are on Premium plan and this feature is only available on higher tiers… so can’t use it for now.


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Right, @Lorant_Szakacs, sorry about that; updated my post to mention that requirement now…