Projects as Tasks OR Project within a Project

slack
projects
dashboard

#1

What I do like about Asana is its simplicity and flexibility, especially its multi-homing feature, where a task can be assigned to multiple projects. However, it will be even more powerful if we can have a project where it contains a list of other projects, instead of tasks. Asana somehow provided this through the dashboard, but I think it’s somehow limiting.

We are a team of developers, and we receive requests from our client on a regular basis. Let’s call each request a BSR (business service request). On their end, they track the completion of these BSRs as a single entity. However, on our end, it’s bigger than that. So in Asana, we have a project called “BSRs”, which then contains each BSR as tasks, and within each BSR are subtasks (Coding, Peer Review, Testing, etc.)

Weekly, we do report to our client by showing them the BSRs project. So far, it is still meeting our needs, since the list is almost similar to the list they have.

The problem that I see are the following:

  • We want to see the percentage completion of each BSR task. The dashboard would have solved this but it only supports projects.
  • For each BSR we have a dedicated channel in Slack. Asana integration in a Slack channel only works for a project.

So the only logical solution is to convert each task into a project. However, if we do so, we no longer will be able to have a huge list of BSRs within Asana, since there’s no view which supports this. A project is only a list of tasks. If only we can have a project within a project.


#2

This is where you need to convert your team into an “organization” and then you can create “teams” and then each TEAM can have it’s own projects, and each TEAM can have it’s own members. Maybe this will solve your problem, I had thought the same thing b4 but then I found out that Asana (those smart bastards) had already thought of this, it’s called TEAMS


#3

but if you really want projects within projects I think that’s overkill bruh


#4

@jallensantos This is great. And @FATBOY thanks for the suggestion. The team idea could work on some level, but I’m not sure it addresses all the concerns jallensantos has raised. Lots of meat here so I’m going to break things down by each topic.

First: “It will be even more powerful if we can have a project where it contains a list of other projects, instead of tasks.”

Great point. I have a workaround for you. Let me know what you think! It’s important to keep track of things I’m working on, so I have a Notes & Resources project that is private to me and then I link to projects I own within that. I have a section called “projects I own” and each task is the name of the project and each task’s description is a link to the project. — You could do this with your projects in any format you’d like. Ex. Project title: Project List. Task: BSR 1, description: link to BSR 1.

An example project list:


Second, your bullet point questions about reporting on percentage completion of each BSR task:

I can make a few points here and I also have a few questions for you. Answers to these will help me give you a more thorough response.

This will be a bit redundant given what you’ve said, but hopefully it will add clarity.

  • We currently have a system similar to yours for when we’re on boarding new hires. Every time a new hire comes to Asana, they fill out a Google form and the answers in that form get pushed into Asana. We have a project for new hires and template tasks that correspond to the google form. Each time a new hire submits a form, their answers turn into a new task that follows our template. Custom fields help us add detail. Take a look at this guide article with details: https://asana.com/guide/help/api/forms.

  • You may already be doing this, but to clarify, one option for you would be: Have a a project called BSRs, collect client requests via a form, and then push those new requests into the BSRs project as tasks. Using custom fields, you can add the status of each task or mark them as complete, which will enable you to track your progress toward completion. And (!) we are actively working on more functionality with custom fields that will allow you to report on each task individually and solve the project/dashboard problem for you.

Questions for you:

  1. Can you tell me how you receive these requests from your clients? Is it via email or web form? As you can see in my answer above, a web form option would help you convert requests into Asana quite easily.
  2. When you say, “on our end it’s bigger than that,” are you saying the sub tasks are the same for each request?
  3. What do you want to optimize for overall? Is it the reporting, is it the automation of the intake, the standardizing of the BSR workflow? That would help us answer these questions better.

Third: Slack

You can indeed communicate about individual Asana tasks in Slack. Take a look at this guide article for details: https://asana.com/guide/help/api/slack. Do the details here address your concern?

Questions for you:

  1. What are you looking to do in Slack that you’re unable to do at this time? How are you communicating about projects and tasks and what feels like it’s missing?

I hope this initial response is helpful! Looking forward to seeing your questions so we can dig into this a little deeper. :slight_smile:


#5

@FATBOY I am indeed part of an organization. We are a team of ~10 members, so I don’t think multiple teams will solve the problem.

@Alexis
First: Project list and Dashboard
I already thought about this before. It doesn’t need to be a private project. Actually, it should be public so that other members will also be able to use it. Anyway, the problem here is that, since the actual projects are just links in the description, the only way to see the project status is to click on each of those projects and since Asana is online, it will almost always load things from the server, which takes time. That is why I also considered using the Dashboard, since it serves as a list of projects with their statuses. The problem is that, it’s a collection of tiles and not an actual list. I was sort of hoping to have the same level of detail as with the task list inside a project, where you can customize the view, add filter and/or sort criteria.

Second: Reporting
First, we receive the requests via mail. As much as I would like to have a standard form for requests, it’s not an option for me now, since this would mean that we will have to rollout this form process to the client. Perhaps in the future we can do this, once our processes integrated into Asana are mature enough to share with them.

Second, yes and no. We follow a template for each BSR. There are standard sections specifically for the phases of development, but we are free to add more subtasks which can help determine the specific action items for that BSR. So you can expect that for complex BSRs, there might be more subtasks as compared to easy BSRs.

Third, what I would really like to address is the reporting. Regularly I ask myself, how can we provide a more reliable and updated report given the limitations mentioned?

Third: Slack
Our agreement in the team is that we only use comments in Asana for really important communications regarding status updates. For specific communications, say for example, code reviews where we discuss line by line, putting those in Asana will bury the higher level updates. And so, these specific topics are discussed in a channel in Slack.

As mentioned, a Slack channel can be integrated with an Asana project. If per BSR, we have a Slack channel, and in Asana, this BSR is represented as a task, then it will be helpful if in Slack we can integrate a channel to a specific task in Asana. This is so updates in BSR task in Asana will flow into a specific channel in Slack. Right now we have a channel integrated with the BSRs project and it serves as a hub for updates for ALL BSRs. And I don’t think my team actually sees it useful.

And of course, thank you for taking much time in giving feedback and insights about the problem!!


#6

@jallensantos bro you need to suck it up and CREATE 1)master form for your clients to submit their orders. Just Do It. Otherwise you will be dealing with this problem for the rest of your life.

Just trust me, don’t let your clients control you.


#7

@FATBOY I know. I will do it when the right time comes. But for now, my focus is to integrate internal processes and workflows first. Only after will I include the client. :smile:


#8

actually @jallensantos I could use a project of projects-- but I often have difficulty just introducing Asana to a new group, so any feature that makes this more difficult I would have to vote against, because for you and I we can understand what a project within a project is-- however for the newbie user, this could confuse the heck out of them. So what seems like an easy implementation for us, I imagine on the Asana-side, the bigger question is “how much will this prevent adoption from the “average” user base” – so the main question is how to solve your problem without further complicating the UI. That I cannot figure out.


#9

@FATBOY don’t worry. You are not alone. I myself could not figure it out. :slight_smile: Although, I was thinking that if in tasks it is possible (tasks within tasks within tasks …), then perhaps it can be done as well for projects. And as for average users, like for example some of my teammates, they don’t need to know the project of projects. It will mostly just be for higher level tracking which will benefit managers more.


#10

Hi @jallensantos ! I’ve been at an event for the last couple days, so I haven’t been able to give you the thorough response you deserve. I’ll get back to you asap with more on this. :slight_smile:


#11

@jallensantos

First: Project list and Dashboard

It sounds like you’re looking for more detail and customization. Have you thought of using custom fields to customize your experience is this list of tasks linking to projects? Users can now filter advanced search by custom fields, which may address your desire for filtering. And if you’re looking to sort, just use advanced search for custom fields and then export a CSV of the search, so you can fiddle with it in the csv format.

Second: Reporting

If by “mail” you mean “email,” then forwarding emails to Asana could be a fit for you. You could pair that email forwarding with some custom fields action and perhaps have a workable solution for you for the time being. (I know I keep talking about custom fields, but man they sure do allow for flexibility!) If I’m not mistaken, the custom fields would require some time investment in each forwarded email, but I suspect you’d see a big payoff in the benefits of reporting down the line.

If you’re using snail mail, then a manual process with custom fields could still be a solution.

Third: Slack

Ah, I see what you mean. Sounds like it’s getting a bit too noisy to hear about all of the BSR tasks rather than the individual tasks that might correspond to an individual channel. That’s helpful feedback. @Kaitie do you have any thoughts on this integration or a workaround here?

I hope this level of detail is helpful. Happy to explore more or let you explore on your own and/or with the community. :slight_smile:

Thank YOU for presenting such interesting questions and for your patience as we explore this together! More power to you for focusing on organization and mastering processes and workflows.


#12

I think I have a somewhat similar use-case that would be greatly improved by “Projects in projects”

With one of my clients, besides my normal design duties, I am helping them utilize Asana for project management. The project manager wants to see a high level view of multiple teams and projects. For example we have a hardware team and a software team managing several projects each. The project manager cares only about project status and wants to view them as tasks and use them to make Gantt charts and priority changes. Basically his tasks are our projects. It seems having projects in projects would allow this view to happen.


#13

@Travis_Travelstead you summarized everything perfectly!!
Basically his tasks are our projects. :smile:


#14

@jallensantos one suggestion I have is to modify your project “tasks” which contain all their subtasks and add these subtasks to their own parent project. You can add subtasks to a project by first clicking on the subtask and then the task menu:



Using this approach, you could have a master project with all your BSR’s as @Alexis mentioned. Each task (BSR) has its own list of subtasks. Each BSR also has its own project with these subtasks in them. Then, you can create dashboards to quickly update your client on the progress of the BSR. Regardless of whether you mark the task as done in the subtask or the BSR project, the update would be reflected everywhere.

You could further organise things by adding all the BSR projects to their own team.

P.S. @Travis_Travelstead this may be useful for you as well.


#15

@paulminors yep. Actually, we’ve started doing that weeks ago! And it looks to be a good work around at the moment. Thanks! :smile:


#16

@paulminors
Thanks I will try this also.


#17

We are a small non-profit that has multiple contracts with multiple projects under each one. So for example, Contract A has 10 components/projects, Contract B has 5, etc. I’ve loaded these all into Asana using the contract as the Project, and then each of the components as Tasks. This gives me a nice list for each from a bird’s eye perspective. However, I’m having difficulty exporting a monthly report because much of the work we are doing is actually at the subtask level. When I try to view the progress of the whole contract, I only see the fully completed Tasks, and not any of the subtasks. Ultimately, this makes it look like we are not working efficiently when in fact, there is plenty of work being done that is not counted. I tried making some of the subtasks “Add to Project” but maybe I have not done it right. I have hundreds of subtasks as the whole year is planned out.


#19

Hey @Karen_Mason-Bennett - what are you using for the monthly report, just an export of the project? Have you tried to use the Advanced Search function to run these progress/status reports?

With advanced search, you can run reports say like - tasks or subtasks completed in project XYZ in the past 30 days (or a specific time frame) that are assigned to X person. And then you can export the CSV or JSON of that search - AND star it for regular items. For me, I have to report on completions/creations for one of our teams every week and I just have the time frame set to ‘Created within the past 7 days’ and click on those when I’m doing the report.

I don’t know if I would recommend adding all of your subtasks and subtasks-within-subtasks to the main project as that kind of ruins the purpose of the birds eye view perspective of the project as a whole.

Have you thought about using custom fields to indicate completion or status? I know this is premium only at the moment, but if you have them it might help! For me, I have a universal ‘Status’ field - has items like “In Progress, Reviewing, Needs Update, Ready, Complete” etc. So for leadership they can pop into a project and see the colors for each one and know where each task is.

You could also do a custom field with percentages of completion - so say 3 out of 4 subtasks are complete, you update the main task field with 75% completed, etc. That would be a little more upkeep though, especially as custom fields aren’t in subtasks yet (unless you add them to a project that has them, which I guess you could have a separate project for those to avoid cluttering up the main project), but I think might be something you can do as part of your reporting process?


#20

Oh you’re lovely! That worked just fine. I was using the Asana Dashboard and have a report exported to Sprintboards which we are forwarding to the Board. That’s where it looks like we only have achieved 3/56 tasks which is misleading when there are 536 subtasks housed underneath.
Thanks for the reply, I appreciate it!


#21

No problem, glad to have helped - the dashboard reporting -> google sheets leaves something to be desired, but as most of the time with Asana, there are other ways to do what you need to do =)