Creating a Reference Project in Asana


#1

The more we use Asana, the more projects we have and the more difficult it is to keep track of everything. I frequently recommend that Asana users create a reference project - a project that serves as a table of contents or a one stop shop for all your important projects. A reference project solves the problem of not knowing where to find anything because you’re keeping all your projects in one place!

Here’s how you can create a reference project:

  • Create a new project in Asana. You could call it “Projects to know”. Click the star to favorite the project so it appears in your sidebar.

  • Each task in the reference project includes the name of a project you’re referencing plus the word Reference. You’ll need to add this extra word to avoid creating two tasks with the same title. For example, I have a project called Sales Interview Questions. So, the task in my reference project is called “Sales Interview Questions Reference.”

  • The description of the task includes a link to the Sales Interview Questions project. You might also add a description of the project.

  • Customize your reference project by adding sections for different project categories, such as Sales, Product, and HR. You might also use custom fields for more customization.

  • Reference projects are perfect for sharing! Share the reference project with your team so everyone knows where to go for the information they need.

Here’s an example:


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#2

@Alexis thank you for providing this workaround. It in some way solves the problem of grouping “My Project” from the rest of the projects in the organization. Unfortunately it does not solves the basic problem of keeping clarity of all the projects in the structure and visibility of programs that includes several subprojects. I’m company owner and I do care and want to have an insight into many (if not all) projects so creating reference project is not solving that issue.

I would appreciate if Asana would recognize serious lack of the support for project structure in current version and hopefully borrow some of the good solutions from Wrike. I use Wrike and also recommend it to my customers mainly due to the fact that it gives leaders of the organization ability to manage complexity by nesting sub-projects and gives a feeling of more future-proof from the user perspective.

I appreciate that Asana is beautiful and gives a feeling of design & visually focused company, but please please please support nesting to overcome endless project lists. And not though hack/workaround, but though well design feature - it will give way more clarity to users.


#3

I hear what you’re saying, @Darek_Lis. Our team is aware of your feedback. With that, the helper in me wants to help you find an interim solution. :slight_smile: I’m also interested in learning more. So, first, what kind of system do you currently have in Asana to oversee many projects?

Next, many of our customers who oversee a high number of projects find Dashboards give them the overview they need. What is your familiarity with Asana Dashboards? With Asana Premium, you can add as many projects to your Dashboard as you like. When people seek greater granularity they often do their Dashboard reporting in Google Sheets. What are your thoughts on these solutions?


#4

@Alexis thanks for quick reply, I really appreciate your engagement.
Dashboards are fine for tracking the progress of separate projects. (although regarding dashboards itself, they can be sometimes misleading as some of the “tasks” are just Containers for example for grouping or Objectives that are not “doable” until the end of the project ). Anyway dashboards are fine to track, but not to manage nested projects as I believe I cannot create dashboard that will show me for example progress of set of projects at once.
I can image that I could create additional formulas to do so in Google Sheets but this would require extra effort so it is counter-productive to expert every time I what to check progress of the set of projects.

Currently to simulate structure in Asana I use “-” (multiple hyphens) and client abbreviation as prefix for every project name so they are sorted in a way that simulate sequence and affiliation of the given project. But still I cannot collapse to see more projects.


#5

I have the same issue, also listing each and every project in the left pane makes for a huge distraction and slow work process when you have to click “more projects” to see all.

I used wrike and the ability to nest projects into projects as subs and projects into folders, AND collapse both the project and folder was IDEAL.


#6

@Darek_Lis you NAILED it my man. I posted about this (others have too) in that there’s a massive lack of project alignment/overview right now in Asana. We have all these ways to “zoom in” but no awesome ways to “zoom out” and Alexis’ hack is a good workaround for now (see this video for other workaround/hacks solutions - https://asana.com/guide/videos/customer-webinars/tracking-organization/springest) but the ultimate fix here would be something like BetterWorks has put together for “big picture” thinking and aligning everyone’s projects via interconnected project metrics:

Here’s of video of how they work it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlYKcztWJUE.

Regardless, I think Asana is currently the absolute best Task Management system out there and they’ve fully converted me from Trello to Asana with no regrets!!! :wink: However this single glaring issue with there system is this Overview/Alignment thing that continues to come up in various threads. I can’t wait until they add this perspective and granularity to the system!!! Then Asana will be 100% perfect @Alexis and @Peter_Skjoldager and I will def be giving you that internet high five we promised you! :slight_smile:


#7

I too struggle to manage all the active projects i oversee.

I am experimenting with using @Alexis tip using a board project. The main advatange is I star just the reference project and the favorites at the left is now very short. My board columns are teams, and I order the project references by priority. The main disadvantage is maintaining it.

As mentioned in another reply I also use a spreadsheet that I pull using a script via the api. That is easy to maintain. But I like the visual of the reference board.

For now I use both.


#8

I definitely agree with the need for some way to organize projects. In the meantime, for those who’d like to try @Alexis’ idea for a Reference Project, here’s a shortcut to populating the list of projects:

  1. Expand the project menu in the left nav by clicking “More Projects…”
  2. Scroll to the top of the project list click and drag to the left of the word “PROJECTS” so you start highlighting it. Without letting go, drag all the way down through the list of projects until the screen starts scrolling. Finish highlighting by selecting the words “Show archived projects” so you know you’ve included the beginning and end of the list, and then let go. The actual project names will not be highlighted while you’re doing this (at least not in Chrome), but if “PROJECTS” and “Show archived projects” are highlighted, all the project names will also be included.
  3. Press Ctrl-C to copy
  4. Create your blank Reference Project, and click on the first line to start a new task.
  5. Press Ctrl-V to paste

Voila! Now you don’t have to retype all the names of your projects, and you can just add “Reference” to the ends of the task names. You can click on any line and press Enter to make a new line, then end the task name with a colon ( : ) to make it a section. Drag the sections and/or tasks to organize them.


#9

@Alexis I appreciate your workaround, but I feel you are solving the cluttered view of having many projects - by creating yet another project to disturb my view.

We have been working with Asana for less than 6 months and already have 50 projects between 15 users. We will be taking on another 5-10 users during 2017 and more projects that I dare think of. We are star marking the projects individually. But that only caters for 15 projects - so we spend to much time looking for projects, or accidentally create duplicate projects due to lack of overview.
Nesting projects would be a huge improvement.
I would love to have a nesting structure of two or three levels as shown below.

There have been several similar requests in here, which you have responded positively to. But can you in any way indicate a time frame for when this will be implemented?
I do not see us using Asana in the long run with more people & projects onbard, if we dont get a better overview.
That said - we really enjoy using Asana :slight_smile:


More Project Organization
#10

This is a great suggestion @Peter_Hohnen! Thank you. Unfortunately I’m unable to indicate a specific time frame for product implementation. However, what I am able to do is escalate these requests to the team that makes product decisions, so please know your requests are being noted.

Glad to know you enjoy using Asana! I hope you’ll continue speaking with us here in the Community. We’ll be happy to help you explore any and all ideas you have about Asana and productivity in general.


#11

Hi @Alexis,

as you know i have also mentioned the need for a much better high-level overview structure. I can say that we just merged with a larger corporation, and i would love to be able to pitch the Asana case to our new bosses, but i feel myself being hesitant because of the lack of high-level overview.

It would make me so happy to hear that Asana is actively considering the suggestions that I, and @Sam_Leahey and @Darek_Lis and @Peter_Hohnen and others have made in this regard. You do not have to give specifik timelines.

Just

  1. have Asana leadership discussed the “concept” of a better “high-level” structure and made some decisions? If not could you please do something to escalate this.
  2. are we talking 2020 before we can expect to see improvements that would render “summary projects” and other work-arounds obsolete?

/Peter


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#12

lol I love it! Don’t forget to add my dude @James_Carl (and probably a ton of other people I’m just not aware of).

I know @Alexis said they had a meeting about it a while back but I don’t think anything ever came of it? At least I haven’t seen/heard :frowning:


#13

I agree with everyone else here that Asana can sometimes feel like a “black box” when it comes to all the Projects and tasks within it. Granted, I’m the most active user of Asana at my organization, but I have enough trouble keeping track of my own projects that I can’t imagine how difficult it’d be to keep track if we were a more active organization with more Project Owners.

I’ve started becoming pretty reliant on favoriting projects, as well as doing a rigorous Delete / Archiving session every few weeks. I can imagine @Alexis’ Reference Project being pretty helpful when I get to the point of having too many Favorites.


#14

Thank you @Alexis,

Actually it is not a new idea of mine, but a request filed earlier by numerous persons. I am not quiet sure what you mean by “escalating requests” and as to whether this has any impact what so ever - or initiates some sort of feedback.

I would therefore very much appreciate if you could dig into @Peter_Skjoldager’s two questions and get feedback from management that is more specific than we have seen until now


#15

Any possible update here @Alexis?


#16

@Peter_Hohnen while our Asana peep’s take forever with this my dude @Eyal_Ronel is developing an AWESOME integration software that promises to give us the metrics we care most about it! I’ll let him talk about it but they’ve got a dashboard coming out soon that I’ve been harassing them about and can’t wait for it :slight_smile:


#17

That sounds great Sam
When and where can I view something?


#19

@Peter_Hohnen also check out this integration - https://asana.com/guide/help/api/instagantt

Is this what you’re looking for or no?


#20

Howdy @Alexis, so I was thinking, but given the left hand column already includes the desired infrastructure (drop down menus by Teams and Favorites) wouldn’t it be super simple to just create another/more dropdown menu’s by Project Category(s)?

This way everyone can organize projects by Team, by Favorites, and by Category. That would seem to cover a TON of people’s needs on here no?


#22

Hi folks,

Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm! Nice to see that @Eyal_Ronel’s efforts may be able to address some of your needs.

Regarding your questions about where the product is headed, please be sure to read this post on how we respond to product feedback in the Community:

The Community is primarily designed as a place for peer to peer support and networking (something we’re happy to see in abundance here!). As such, we deliver feedback to our product team as part of the process listed in the post linked above, but we are unable to guarantee a roadmap or provide in-depth progress updates on feature requests. That said, we have noted your feedback and will take it into account in our product feedback process.

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone! Please let me know if you have any other questions.