💡 Date shifting with templates: which dates are used?

Hi,

When you are using a template to create a project, you’ll often see that Asana is asking for a new start date or a new end date to do date-shifting.

That screen is usually very confusing for users. The idea is that Asana is asking how to shift the dates of the tasks to help you re-frame the entire project based on your reality.

The question is: what is Asana using as a reference for this shift?

Let’s say you have a template with the following:

  • a task due on January 3rd
  • a task due on January 15th
  • project template dates as January 10th-31st

What is Asana going to pick as a reference for the date shifting? 3rd and 15th? 10th and 31st? or 3rd and 31st?

After some tests, thanks Julien, turns out Asana is using the task dates, picking the oldest and earliest as reference (so 3rd and 15th)!

:sweat_smile: I used to think it was the second scenario, sorry for the dozens of client I trained wrongly!

:fr: Version Française

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Hi @Bastien_Siebman,

I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean by each of the 3 possibilities you describe; perhaps you could share an example and indicate what you mean by each one? Thanks!

I updated the post, @Phil_Seeman is it clearer?

I think some behavior changed because I believe the current behavior does not match the documentation:

https://asana.com/guide/help/premium/custom-templates#gl-autoshifting-dates

If scheduling by Start date when instantiating the template, the doc says:

The task with the earliest due date in your template / project start date will be shifted to the selected start date.

That’s not what happens now; it schedules by the earliest task date only (but does adjust correspondingly the project start date if it’s set too). I’m pretty positive when I used this the last time it operated as the documentation says–it picked the earliest of project or task date found.

Here’s what happens now:

  • Template project due date or start/due date Oct 1
  • Template task due date Nov 1 (and no other tasks
  • Instantiate template by Start date of Dec 1.

Result:

  • Project due date or start/due date is Nov 1 (note: This contradicts the doc and request to start the project on Dec 1)
  • Task due date is Dec 1

What my reading of the current doc is, and what I experienced before:

  • Project due date is Dec 1
  • Task due date is Jan 1.

Maybe @Forum-team could clarify?

Thanks,

Larry

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@lpb,

If you’re saying you select a project start date for the new project of Dec 1. amd when Asana creates the project it changes the project start date to Nov. 1 (or to ANY other date than Dec. 1), then that HAS to be a bug. There is no way that Asana should be altering the project start date you selected.

To confirm , is that what you’re saying is happening (I don’t have time to test it right now)?

Yes, Phil, I confirm what you wrote.

You and I are in agreement that this is a bug currently. Bastien and Julien feel it’s Forum Leader’s tip :wink:

Larry

@lpb I did some testing.

It works properly if the template has both a start and due date; it seems to only be “odd” if the template has just a due date.

Here’s what I mean - if you take your example but instead set both a project start and due date in the template; i.e.:

  • Template project start date of Nov. 1, due date of Dec. 31
  • Template task due date Nov 1 (and no other tasks)
  • Instantiate template by Start date of Dec 1

Result:

  • Project start date is Dec. 1, due date is Feb. 1
  • Task due date is Dec 1

This result makes sense to me.

Perhaps the bottom line (and this should be documented IMO but isn’t) is if you’re going to use the “schedule dates” feature when creating a project using a start date, the template also needs to have a start date, not just a due date. Then things work properly.

In thinking further about it, I guess your example also makes sense; I retract my assertion that it’s a bug. If the project only has a project due date, then Asana shifts that date just as it does task dates. That is, you instantiated the project so as to push the task date back 1 month, so Asana also pushed the project due date back by the same 1 month. Don’t think I can argue with that behavior.

What do you think?

P.S. We should probably also test specifying a project due date instead of a start date when creating the project, but I did not go there!

@Bastien_Siebman so to be clear, what you’re saying is that you were thinking it keys off of the project start date but it keys off of the earliest task date, is that correct?

@Phil_Seeman,

I don’t agree, and your test example wasn’t comprehensive enough.

For a template with project start/due 10/1-11/7 and a task due 11/1 that you instantiate to start 12/1, the resulting project start/due is 11/1-12/7 and the task due is 12/1.

That contradicts the documentation as I pointed out earlier.

At this point, I hope Asana will explain the above.

Thanks,

Larry

Exactly what I experience :slight_smile: glad we got the conversation rolling!

Isn’t it what we see, precisely?

I am so confused :rofl:

Here is my conclusion at this point in the discussion:

  • What Larry and I are seeing in our testing is consistent with what Bastien said: it keys off of the earliest task in the project, does not care what the overall project start/due date(s) are set to.

  • Larry says this is counter to the documentation but I don’t see where that’s the case - mostly because the documentation is IMO woefully too short on details for this functionality. But it does say, specifically (and this is the ONLY thing it says by way of explanation, and even this is somewhat fuzzy in its wording):

The task with the earliest due date in your template / project start date will be shifted to the selected start date.

  • So my conclusion is that, while it doesn’t behave in the way I would like it to, it’s not a bug and is working the way it was designed to work.

What say you, @lpb ?

Yes, @Bastien_Siebman, good for opening this topic!

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Hi folks and thanks for creating this topic, @Bastien_Siebman! I’m creating a task to our product team so we can confirm whether this is expected behaviour or a bug. My hunch is that this is expected behaviour but I’ll share more details as soon as I hear from our team. Let me know if you have any other questions in the meantime!

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Excellent, thanks, @Emily_Roman!

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I did not expect that topic to generate so much discussion :grimacing: :heart:

I’m kind of new here, so take that as a big disclaimer as you read this.

I think it’s behaving correctly and documented correctly. In my small limited experience, creating a project using a template start date, it will only look at Tasks. not the project dates. So If your FIRST Task is November 1st. (regardless of the project date), if you create a project using the template with the start date of 12/1. Your FIRST task will be 12/1.

I know this because the last project I built for a client, the first task in the template is “KICK OFF TEMPLATE” and it has the date that the process should start. So when we create the project from the template, all the tasks after that first task will be calibrated from the start date entered when creating from the template.

This is really hard to explain written.
TEMPLATE:
Tasks - 1. Kick off template 1/1,
2. First real task 1/5
3. Second real task 1/15
When I generate a project from this and put 12/1 as my start date I get.
1. Kick off template 12/1 (which is a thow away task)
2. First real task 12/5
3. Second real task 12/15

Sorry if I misunderstood the issue. Just trying to jump in and get smart like all of you!

Hi all! Sorry for the delay here, I have an update about your report:

After further investigation, we can see the information in the Guide is accurate and this is currently working as expected. When you schedule project dates via a template, your tasks will be scheduled according to the start or end date that you select when creating the template.

The date you select as the “Start date” will be the date of the first task in your project. Your project start and end date will be also adjusted to match the time in your template. For example:

  • Template project start and due date → October 1st to November 1st
  • Template tak due date November 1st

If you select December 1st as the start date for your new project created from the template, the results will be the following:

  • Project start and due date → November 1st to December 2nd
  • First task due date → December 1st

The project start date is not December 1st because in you template you indicated the project start date should be one month before the date of the first task.

If you need that the first task in your project and the project dates match, you should add similar dates in your template. For example:

  • Template project start and due date → October 1st to November 1st
  • Template task due date October 1st

This will make more sense as you will kick off the project by actioning the first task.

We are planning to revamp project templates so this feature will be easier to understand and use in the near future :raised_hands:t4: Thanks for your feedback about the guide article too, we will consider it when we update this feature and revamp the article!

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Hello, wanted to just share that when I’m using a template to make a new project, I usually pull up two instances of Asana. One being the project I’m creating with a template, and then another with the actual template I’m using. Then I look at what the template’s first tasks recurrence in the month and day of the week it is, I.E. 3rd Monday, and set my new project’s start date to match that. For reference though, we use a lot of templates as a quarterly planner because we operate mostly on calendar schemes of 1st Monday or 3rd Tuesday, etc. This makes understanding how the templates work at first pretty straight forward at first imo. Then it’s just chaining dependencies correctly so that Asana can tell how to space the tasks out. Which I’ve noticed only tends to be a problem if your templates span months, as a couple of ours do.
So for example, we have a communication team that has recurring meetings and tasks for the quarter, and have all of those in a template. We make a new project using that template on the last month of the quarter. We just set the project for the same day of the week and recurrence on the first month of the new quarter. So Q1 would be something like the first Monday, and then Q2 would also be the first Monday when using the template, etc. This has always worked as expected. The one improvement I could see is if when you’re using creating a project using a template, there was a box to show the task that contains the first or last date in a template. That way you can tell what recurrence and day of the month it falls on without having two instances open or memorizing it. I also think it removes assumptions like above, because it’s clear what the project template is pointing to.
Hope this was an at all helpful perspective!