You’re invited to a Community Ask Me Anything with Asana Product Manager, Lili Jiang, who championed the launch of custom fields!Please post questions for Lili in this thread over the next few days and join us in this thread for the LIVE follow up with Lili on March 30th from 9:30am - 10:30am PST!
Ask Lili about
Using custom fields
Asana’s behind the scenes process for launching custom fields
Using advanced search to get a high level view of work across projects
Communicating launches to the whole company
Lists vs. boards for product management
How to ask questions
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Haven’t seen Lili’s webinar about How Asana Product Managers Track Product Launches? Take a look at these highlights and ask Lili about them!
6:30 Setting up the project we used to launch custom fields
9:30 Managing sprints in Asana
9:50 Using Agile in Asana
10:50 Allocating resources using custom fields and multi select
14:50 Meeting agendas and team process projects
16:00 Using template tasks to guide meetings
28:00 Announcing a launch to staff
30:00 Using project tools to communicate between teams
38:00 Commenting in a task for the custom fields launch
38:50 Using advanced search reports to get a high level view of work across projects
Lili Jiang is a product manager at Asana. She oversees several critical programs that have launched the features customers use today, including custom fields. Lili studied operations research at Columbia University before gaining experience at JP Morgan and most recently at Venmo. Lili is skilled at crafting communication and breaking down the complex challenges involved in product management.
Note: while she’d love to answer every single question that comes through, Lili likely won’t be able to answer all questions for the AMA. If you post a question that we aren’t able to answer during the AMA, we encourage you to post a new thread and we’ll be happy to follow up afterward!
Hi Lili! My question is related to custom fields. I think they will increase Asana’s power by 10x once they integrate with Zapier, which they don’t currently. Is this being prioritized? Is there anything in particular makes that process of integration challenging?
I am eager to hear the high level process for planning the custom field launch, from idea inception to the final launch. I’d like to explore how Asana supports different teams’ creative processes (in addition to the marketing and design type work we often discuss). What did the idea evolution look like for custom fields and how did you use Asana to support that idea development in particular?
@Lili_Jiang One of your product managers indicated there is plenty of room for improvement in the left pane of Asana. One of the things I am really interested in is have a Collapse All to the Team level. There are any number of items that could improve the navigation and organization of the left pane. Would like to know your thoughts on this subject.
Thanks for your vote of confidence To say that Custom Fields is supported is really kind of a misnomer IMHO. There is basically read permissions, but not write permissions. So it doesn’t support say…a form is filled out on your website so it updates an Asana task with populated custom fields. Or an entry is added to a CRM and the same info updates an Asana task in the custom fields.
When custom fields are fully supported, that’s when Asana can really become a central hub for a lot more types of information because it can stay in sync with other systems.
@Lili_Jiang The Advanced Search feature of Asana is a tremendous tool especially when combined with Saved Favorites to create unlimited online reporting. There are a number of requests for additional features but I will limit to two items that are missing that I think effectively cut the legs out from two features highly touted in Asana.
Ability to find No Due Date, Almost all presentations by Asana heavily advocate putting due dates on your tasks (and start dates when they come), but the Advanced Search does not have a field to identify tasks without due dates which leaves PM vulnerable to loosing the flow of execution. I respectfully submit this leave a large hole in the control of tasks. I believe the logic exist because you can find tasks that are assigned to no one.
Waiting On Last year’s roll out of task dependencies was a good addition to Asana. I have seen other PM software allow you to hover over the waiting on status and see the precedent task. While this would be nice, there is no way that I am aware of to use Advanced Search to identify tasks you are waiting on or you are the precedent. This leave the feature significantly diminished in its utility.
So in conclusion 2 field additions of No Due Date and Waiting On would in my mind activate first the overall rules of good project management and second an important new feature.
Hey Alexis! I’m a new Asana CSM and super excited about this! Here’s my question for Lili: What’s your favorite feature that you’ve helped launched since being at Asana?
Asana-created Templates! This was a really fun project to help users discover all the different use cases for Asana and give people a jump-start on setting up their own workflows. It also demonstrated some cool features, like to use custom fields in a Bugs project.
Hey Todd! We love that you are a fan of custom fields and the possible integrations that come with them. Just like you, we see a ton of potential with partners like Zapier and the powerful integrations they enable. Our dream is that Asana becomes the “shared brain” of an organization and has interconnectivity with a variety of tools.
Our API already already allows integrations to set and change the values of existing custom field. It does not yet allow for creation of custom fields. While we don’t have a specific timeline yet, we can say we view this as a valuable piece of the API, and we are currently figuring out what issues here are most important to solve, and what our solution will look like. We’ll be sure to make the Zapier team aware of our solution when it’s ready so that it can be made available to users as quickly as possible!
@James_Carl , we hear you! We use Asana all day everyday, and we run into issues with the sidebar as well, especially once we have a lot of teams or projects, things tend to get harder to organize.
The sidebar is a really powerful part of the Asana experience and the main way users navigate through the app, so it’s really important that we get it right. I’m curious what kind of problems you’re running into that make you want to collapse all the teams?
Some suggestions we’ve heard from customers include:
Allowing custom icons or emoji in the sidebar
Allowing creation of folders to organize projects in
I would love to learn more about your workflow and why you might want to search for No Due Date. There’s a workaround, where you can search for tasks and sort them by due date to see the ones without due dates, but I’m curious to get feedback from you regarding how this is working.
Regarding Waiting On, I’d also like to dig into what issues you are having with the inability to search. Are you wanting to see all tasks that are waiting on something you are assigned to?
I also sometimes have trouble visualizing which tasks have dependencies, as we don’t currently surface them on boards or in the project list view. Other tools that I’ve found are helpful for marking sequential workflows are custom fields and columns on boards.
One future feature that might help alleviate your issues here is the ability to visualize your task dependencies on a timeline-type view. Luckily, we’re heads down working on this project now.
@Lili_Jiang My problem is we use Teams in different ways all the way from strategic planning Team to departmental to specialized workflow. So the problem is just mere quantity. That is why I think the expand all, collapse all is so important. In addition I posted a page from Evernote’s book about using Stacks. I think this would be an ideal solution for Asana as you are not really creating Projects within Projects, just the equivalent of Folders. It functions very simple in that if you drag a project on top of a project it Creates a Stack (Folder) that you can name and the projects stay resident.
@Lili_Jiang I just think that No Due Date is such a natural addition to Advance Search. Good project management should have virtually no tasks without a due date. While your suggestion is helpful, it is a workaround. You already have the logic in the ability to have Assigne To: Nobody. It only seems natural to have Due Date No Date Set.
Waiting On needs improvement, but at a minimum if it is added to the Advanced Search you can look for all your tasks that you are waiting on somebody. Not sure if you could have logic of an Advanced Search of people waiting on you, but the first seems like a minimal addition.