Rules and Subtasks

Hi - I understand that subtasks aren’t part of a project so rules from a task don’t apply to them, however…

We use rules in this way.

For onboarding new customers, we create a dedicated project. The project contains tasks, and then we break down the tasks into parts as subtasks under the task.

We have rules that when a customer creates a new task or adds a comment on a task it adds that task into a completely separate project called “Unanswered Questions”. This way, our support and onboarding team has a quick place to see ALL tasks that have been updated or added as opposed to having to go into every single project separately. When they are done answering the question or updating info, they remove it from the “Unanswered Questions” project.

This breaks down when a customer adds a subtask or comments on a subtask. We’d also like these to be automatically added to the “Unanswered Questions” project.

Is there a way to do this?

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Hi,

Because subtasks are not part of the project (you said it right), Rules “on a project” can’t apply to them. Otherwise Asana will have to contradict themselves and create specific code. Your only chance is that subtasks are added to a project (or THE project) as well as being a subtask. But I always advise against this kind of solution because it is hard to understand, and you usually forget to multi-home the subtasks…

If the client is allowed to create subtasks, he will never think about multi-homing them…

Hi @Chris_Labatt-Simon :wave:t3:

Have you considered using Sections + Tasks instead to break up your project, instead of Tasks + Subtasks? That would allow you to keep the same workflow and to fully leverage Rules!

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We already use sections…

We’re in e-commerce software, so as an example…

  • The section header might be Marketplaces.
  • The task might be eBay.
  • There may be 10-15 subtasks including authorizing ebay, syncing ebay data, testing ebay listing, etc.

And…

  • Another section header might be Automations.
  • The task might be the name of a distributor.
  • There will be multiple subtasks including build automation, test automation, launch automation, etc.

I understand that subtasks are NOT part of the project, but I can’t say I understand WHY Asana made this decision. Jira and numerous other platforms have subtasks and they are all part of the project the task belongs to. It seems quite odd and unfortunate.

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Here’s my suggestion. Move the client relationship up to the team level and use tasks instead of sub-task. The sub-task can then be used for the detailed actions taken to solve the issue. Ask you clients to submit a form instead of creating a task. Write your form so that it is directed to the right process using the rules. Sub-tasks are a danger zone when relying on process or reporting.

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With the recent update to subtasks in mind – is there a possibility that rules will work with subtasks in the (near) future?

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Hi there Marie. I’m looking at a similar problem. Can you describe more fully what you are suggesting here? I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

Hi @greer :wave:t3:

No worries, I’m happy to develop a little on this!

Rules currently don’t work with subtasks because subtasks don’t automatically ineharate their parent task attributes (and their project more specifically). Instead of using a Task > Subtask hierachy, I was recommending to use a Section > Task hierarchy (with Section replacing the task level, and tasks acting up as subtasks). This is just a workaround to be able to leverage Rules in a workflow that involves multiple actions to complete a single task. Again, this was just a workaround to explore, not a direct solution to the problem exposed by Chris!

I hope this helps to clear things up but let me know if you have any follwo-up questions!

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That makes lots of sense, got it, thanks!

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But couldn’t you add the ability for some rules with subtasks? Like add to a project on creation or new comment?

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Hi @Chris_Labatt-Simon, it’s currently not possible due to technical constraints, but definitely something we’re keeping in mind for future improvements!

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I support the idea of @Chris_Labatt-Simon. This ability would be very useful.

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This would be a nice feature to be able to automatically add subtasks to a task created in a specific project.
However this would be unecessary if it were possible to create a task from a template. This template could then have the desired “standard” subtasks.
My perspective is in mechanical design and I have a task to design a machine. There are certain things that need to be checked before I send the machine off to manufacturing regardless of which machine it is. It would be nice if I could have this “checklist” to be generated automatically when I start this task.

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Hi Oskar,

FYI this is available via the If-Then Rules feature of my Flowsana integration.

If

I 100% understand that some rules shouldn’t/can’t be applied to to subtasks. But at the very least, the “Status Changed -->Complete Task” and “Completed task–>Status Changed” Rule should be made available to subtasks. Minimizing the steps my team has to take make sure “all the boxes are checked” would be incredibly helpful.

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I agree with @Chris_Labatt-Simon and @Marko, this would be a very useful feature. Currently, the status of a each task within our projects is dependent on certain sub-tasks being completed. So having a rule that would update that status every time a sub-task is completed would be so helpful as we are doing that manually right now.

I don’t understand why subtasks would be designed NOT to inherit attributes of their parent task. What is the point of a sub task then?

In our case we are a design and fabrication firm that has to track a lot of projects utilizing a variety of in house resources and sub contractors. Our 100+ client(s) each have a “team” level where we create a folder; then the project level is exactly that, a client specific project; then sections break down the scope of work (milestones, assigned actionables, all the elements of the project that are in production, estimate and purchase order tracking, etc). Task levels are the bullet points so to speak of what is in production (“Faux finish display blocks” for example). Subtasks would track multiple purchase orders, vendor costs, due dates, etc necessary to create that one line item.

The only solution I’ve come up with is creating another board that is our “production schedule” where I can attach the sub task to a project. The problem is it takes to many clicks to get into the task, locate the add to a project tab (it is not offered in fields because sub tasks don’t inherit parent structure), then assign it to that tasks where I can then fill out the custom fields I need to track my project. It’s just too many clicks for a fast paced work flow like ours. What is interesting though is if you select multiple sub tasks you can batch move them to a project, so I wish Control + select on a single task or sub task would give you the same streamline option to move tasks between projects.

Our problem is that typically we are generating PO’s one at a time so need a better work flow in getting items onto the production schedule to make sure they are accounted for and billed at the end of a job. Was hoping rules would help solve that by automatically adding these sub tasks to the production schedule but alas…it will not.

Long story short I’ve been using Asana for about 3 years and have always found it to be very frustrating that sub tasks don’t inherit parent tasks attributes. Can someone please explain why? The work arounds never really seem to work…but if someone has had similar experience and an effective solution I’m all ears.

The basic design of Asana is that tasks assigned to a project appear in that project’s task list. Given this model, when a subtask is assigned to a project, it displays in the project’s task list. I don’t know this for a fact but I strongly suspect that the Asana folks concluded that automatically assigning all subtasks to their parent task’s project, thereby causing them all to appear in the project’s task list, would be too unwieldy and would be counterproductive.

I think the only solution would be for them to alter the basic design of Asana such that subtasks assigned to a project would not show in the project’s task list. Again I don’t know this but I suspect that given Asana’s architecture, it would be a heavy lift for them to make make that change. (Although interestingly it’s the design I’m implementing for my upcoming Desksana integration.)

You might be able to solve this using the "Add subtasks from a template" rule action in Flowsana. What I’m thinking is to assign the subtasks in the template to the “Production Schedule” project so that when they’re duplicated, they’ll be assigned to that project when they’re created. I don’t know if that matches your workflow without knowing more about it, but it might. The other issue is that the templated subtasks will show in that project, which you don’t really want, but perhaps since they won’t have any start or due dates on them, that wouldn’t be an unbearable issue.

I agree with @Chris_Labatt-Simon as well. It would create efficiencies for our organization, which currently not having that ability means it is something we have to do manually.