Streamline your organization: Effectively organize teams, portfolios, projects, and tasks within Asana

As part of the special edition on helping teams adopt Asana, this Forum Leader Tip focuses on effectively setting up and organizing your teams, portfolios, projects, and tasks. But first…

The Asana Way of Change

Six Essential Steps for a Successful Change Management Process outlines the Asana adoption process as a whole. (You may choose a more modest approach with fewer people, but it’s worthwhile to review in full to ensure the completeness of your plan.)

What we cover in this post should slot in primarily after Step 2: Discover your “now” and before Step 3: Design your first workflow. It is assumed that those carrying out these recommendations have been trained in Asana basics and workflow design or are working alongside an Asana expert.

You would document your conventions and best practices gleaned here in Step 5: Set up for future success, and iterate and refine these approaches as part of Step 6: Measure and expand use on an ongoing basis.

Getting Organized

Tackle (almost) anything in Asana: Step-by-step is a video of my one-hour workshop, done in concert with the great Asana Education and Asana Community teams. The 40-minute presentation (a 20-minute Q&A follows) includes live demos and is comprised of three segments:

  • Asana’s building blocks • Key points concerning the Asana hierarchy (the diagram below)
  • Recipe to architect (almost) anything • Generic approach to Asana workflow design
  • Project checklist • Rules of thumb for any project

Skim this post, watch the workshop video, and then return to the See Also section at the end for additional resources.

Asana Hierarchy

The hierarchy of the key Asana building blocks is shown below:

Note the right-side frequency of creation: You’ll be making tasks/subtasks most often, projects from time to time, and teams primarily during your initial adoption of Asana, with only occasional subsequent changes to teams (one exception is if you are a service provider and work with clients and choose to represent clients as teams in your Asana).

For key points about each element of the hierarchy, see the Building Blocks segment of the workshop video mentioned above.

Next, each element is covered in its own section, including portfolios, which is not shown in the diagram above.


Teams are workgroups of people who collaborate. A good starting point is to consider creating a team for each box on your org chart along with one additional team called All Staff with everyone in your organization as members. Don’t overbuild teams (making it too hard to decide which team a new project should be placed in; you can always add later) nor underbuild (fail to create enough teams from which to choose in order to place a new project).


Expanding on the hierarchy diagram shown earlier, portfolios are arbitrary groupings of projects (and/or other nested portfolios), as seen here:

Perhaps each department might have a portfolio containing its high-level initiatives (projects), and you could also have a single organization-wide portfolio containing each of these portfolios.


Projects allow you to organize tasks (optionally in Sections) to carry out different types of efforts:

  • Deadline-bound project: a specific initiative like an event or product launch,

  • Ongoing processes: perhaps a request handling process initiated with a form, or

  • Reference or brainstorming project: documenting a standard operating procedure, for example

The Project Checklist segment of the workshop video mentioned above offers a comprehensive way to ensure that you’re covering all the bases before you roll out your new project/workflow.

See also Blueprints for deadline-bound projects and ongoing processes for details.

Tasks (and Subtasks)

Tasks generally represent a unit of actionable work (a to-do), but they can also represent ideas and reference items.

The Recipe segment of the workshop video provides a step-by-step method for determining the best use of teams, projects, tasks, and subtasks for virtually any workflow.

Issues surrounding subtasks (and tasks) are highlighted throughout the workshop video, including during the Q&A segment at the end.


The workshop video and this companion post can help you organize and streamline your work in Asana as a key part of your rollout plan.

See Also

Thank you,

Larry Berger

Asana Consultant at Trilogi Solutions


This is an awesome starter kit for admins/implementation leads (that I wish I had when I started using Asana!)