How do you represent project phases and subprojects?



We’re about to start using asana for a program with a good number of projects. All new to asana, lots of things to learn and explore.
Today’s question: how should we best represent project phases, subprojects, milestones in asana?
The structuring tools available seem to be sections, subtasks, tags, user defined fields.
Which ones do you folks use for what purpose?
What are their pros and cons?

Thanks very much in advance for any and all info, hints, guidance, …!!


I use sections for phases. For complicated tasks, sometimes I use subtasks, but I find subs cumbersome so I try not to use them. I saw during a training session that using a milestone project is a good idea that links to all other live projects… I’m looking to try that out on my next multi phase project (s)


My advice is to use subtasks carefully – they can be very confusing to your team initially, so you want to make sure you understand how and why you are using them.

Sections work well for organizing task lists. I usually use sort “None,” otherwise your sections will need to have dates on them in order to be in the right place, and that can be a pain.

As for tags and user-defined fields–
I use user-defined fields when I need to add data to potentially every task in a project, such as “department” or “status”.

I use tags when I want to mark certain tasks or milestones separately, and usually so I can aggregate information across projects. An example of that would be a tag called “Deliverable” which might only be applied to a couple of tasks in a particular project. However, if I then click on the tag “Deliverable,” (or add it to a custom search), I’ll very easily get a list of all deliverables across all my projects.


Hi @Werner_Beck; this is a great question!

Piggy backing off @Brian_Titus & @Mark_Nattress suggested, tags are a great way to keep track of phases, in lieu of custom fields; a feature available for premium Asana members. A brief discussion on the efficacy of & difference between tags vs custom fields is discussed here..

Sections can be a great visual cue as well, which are able to be created by adding a full colon after the name of a Task. For folks who are more of the visual learners, our Boards Project view is a great way to create Projects that make it easy to identify where certain Tasks are at, by associating columns with periods of time (months/quarters etc).

Projects also have a Progress tab that allows you a basic chart of the Project’s “health”, like what percentage of Tasks & Subtasks have been completed. You can also use Project status updates to inform all Project members of the your report on Project achievement, your customized alerts of milestones achieved or those that hovering close on the horizon.

Additionally, if you load your Project into your Dashboard, our Google Sheets reporting integration will allow you to dig a bit deeper. Using the live data from the Project you’ve loaded into your Dashboard, you’ll be able to get a close up lens on how far you & your Team have come & how much farther you have to go.

Hope this provides an idea of various ways you’re able to use features in Asana to capture & represent phases of your Team’s work, whether you’re a free or premium Asana user!

Let me know if you have any questions!

PS: I do want to note a brief caveat on Subtasks. They are absolutely great to add necessary details to a Task however I would warn against delving too deep with more than one layer of Subtasks. Asana allows you to delve up to 5 tiers of subtasks deep, which can make them quite easy to miss & lose track of. They will also make your Projects slower to run if one Task has over 50 subtasks (for example) nested in just one Task. Hope this helps!


Thanks yery much for sharing your thoughts on this topic! Very helpful - while we’re just getting started, it’s great to be able to learn from others’ experience.
@Mark_Nattress , could you please expand a bit on that idea of using a milestone project linked to all other live projects? Sounds like a PMO level thing that would make good sense for us as well.


I haven’t tried doing this myself yet, but I understand the theory behind it after taking the Asana Fundamentals 103: Work Management course. Premium users have access to this training resource. As I understand, you should have an overview task defined in each of your existing projects. This overview task should contain basic detail of the project’s purpose and solution and should have the project’s due date. You then create a separate centralized project detailing goals and milestones as related to your team’s projects. You then add the overview task from each of your existing projects to this centralized project. The overview is not a copy- its a single task that is shared among the individual project, AND the centralized milestone project. That way, when your individual project is completed (along with its single overview task), its completion status will populate the status of the overview task in your centralized milestone project.
Centralized projects provide a high level view of how your team is doing when many projects are on the go…
As I said, this is something I’m looking to implement, so I’ll keep you posted :wink:
Best of luck,


Hi @Mark_Nattress and Werner_Beck,

I’m a super newbie evaluating Asana premium for use in managing my multi-project program.

One of the features I’m looking for, is the ability to provided a view/report of the timeline at the milestone level or for each phase of each project for use in general monitoring and for executive reporting/presentations. Out of the shoot, I haven’t seen a way to create this kind of “rolled up” view. I worked with Asana sales and they didn’t have a way to do this.

It sounds like your approach might accomplish this. Have you played with this approach further? Do you use this approach to do the kind of “rolled up” aka “milestone” timeline view/reporting? How has that worked for you?

Thanks in advance for your insights.


Hi Brandi_H - we haven’t gone further with this. If I needed to, I’d look further into using tags to create an overview project. I’d also try out the Google sheets integration.
Now that dahboard is history, I’d also like to understand if the new portfolio feature offers any help in that direction. Unfortunately, that’s not for simple “Premium” customers …


Hi Brandi- I have used the Milestone Project that contains milestone items from all my projects to compile a “portfolio” of projects. Its a great repository, but in list view it is less Executive friendly. When I use Timeline view on this Milestone project, it needs work (see pic)…

The only way to identify the project associated with the milestone task is by colour code. Instead I’d probably want to divide my Milestone project into Sections that identify each project. That way, when you convert milestone project from list to timeline you’d have a swimlane on the side for each project and your timeline would make more sense. That being said, the only complaint I get from Executive type roles is that they can’t print timeline. In this case, I just export my Milestone project and present it in a Gantt drawing for them… I am anxious to trial Portfolios though, and see if it offers high level multi-project views. Best of luck. Let me know how you make out.


Thanks to you both, this is very helpful. I think I can make the milestone view work.