When modifying template tasks, propagate changes out to existing descendant tasks

Thank you for template tasks! These are making my team’s life easier already. However, the following would be a game-changing feature for us.

My team has 100s of projects in our pipeline at any given moment. Each internal project gets an Asana task with subtasks. Let’s say the projects are videos we’re creating. Each video goes through the same production steps — scripting, recording, editing, and so on. Many of those steps require various approvals and hand-offs. We translate these needs into subtasks, with dependencies. Each phase (like editing) gets a subtask, and each approval or hand-off gets a milestone.

Setting this up once is fine. However, we’re constantly refining our processes, and thus the template. For example, say one of the approvals moves to later in the process, or we introduce a new format of video, which needs a different treatment. These all trigger changes to our template, which is like our master checklist.

At the moment, when we refine our process by updating the template, that helps only with new projects going forward. For those already in flight, we have to either manually update those subtasks to sync, or just remember in our brains to do that one extra step. Neither is a great option (especially the “remembering” one!).

I would love to have the option to modify a template task, and then have those changes propagate out to the already-created tasks . That is, any tasks that originated from the template could have those updates auto-applied.

In my example, if I have 20 video projects already in flight, and I edited the template to require a new approval step (or whatever!), Asana could prompt me: “Would you like to sync the 20 existing tasks from this template with the changes you just made?”

This would be a killer feature for us. So much so that I’ve researched lots of other Asana competitors and found only one that does something like it. (I understand why it’s not popular — it’s probably hugely complex to implement!)

This would definitely be great and is something I love when working in our other PM tool, ClickUp. Given Asana’s slow development process—I’ll check back on this in ≈4 years.

As a developer myself, I can’t wrap my head around how this could work with the current Asana model. I imagine many times where you don’t want changes to the template being applied to existing projects/tasks, and if changes were already made on the task/project, what is Asana supposed to do? :confused:

@Skyler I am really curious to understand how that feature works for other tools like Clickup.

You are being really hard on them :slight_smile:

@Scott_Murray,

FYI there’s already a Product Feedback item for this request:

cc: @Community_Managers

Thanks, Phil!

@Bastien_Siebman — I agree, it’s a tricky problem, but I think it could be solved in a range of ways.

The simplest (and least flexible) would be to maintain a “hard” linkage between templates and the descendant tasks. So… if the template changes, the descendant tasks change, too. Let’s say the descendant tasks and subtasks maintain any values changes that have occurred since creation (like “completed = yes”) but the sequence of subtasks themselves is fixed and cannot be changed.

If you wanted to change those, that “breaks” the relationship, and the UI could warn you that future changes to the template would no longer be reflected here, etc.

Consider the analogy of PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides. You have “master slides” or slide templates, and any changes to those are immediately reflected in related slides. You can of course “break” the relationship at any time.

An even simpler option would be to just warn the user, so we could manually do some tidying. E.g. “you’re about to save changes to a template. We see you have 50 tasks already generated from this template that are still not yet completed. Here, let me generate a list of those tasks for you so you can manually go check to see if they need to be updated.”

@Skyler thanks for the tip on ClickUp. I will check it out.

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In ClickUp you can have templates at the:

  • Workspace level
  • Project Level
  • List Level
  • Task Level
  • Subtask Level
  • Checklist Level

Once you update a template, if you decide you want to update an existing list item (from the above list), you can do so from that item’s options menu—you can then merge current progress with the new updated template.

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And yes, I’m hard on Asana because I know they’re better. They have more resources, a team full of stellar developers, and they’re public. If an upstart like ClickUp can pull this off in a matter of weeks—I know Asana’s capable of it too.

That being said, I do think that just because they can implement a feature, doesn’t always mean they should or will.

The product team at ClickUp is very different from the Product team at Asana. ClickUp prides itself on having a public roadmap (Canny board), listening to customers desires, and acting/iterating on them swiftly…and sometimes that’s a detriment as it inevitably introduces bugs and other unforeseen consequences.

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HI all, thanks for taking the time to provide this feedback!

As mentioned by @Phil_Seeman, there is an existing thread on this topic so I’ve gone ahead and merged this post with that one to consolidate feedback! :slight_smile:

I’ll loop back in on this post should there be any updates to this feature :slight_smile:

:rotating_light: Don’t forget to add your vote by clicking the “Vote” button at the top of the page if you would like to see this feature added to Asana!

Hi, I’m having a template task challenge I hope someone can help with. When I update an existing task template, the other tasks made using this template don’t update automatically. This would be really useful!

Hi @Eranta_Andersone, welcome to the Asana Community Forum :wave:t2:

This is currently working as expected! Updating a template will not update any content made from that template.

I’v gone ahead and moved this thread to the #productfeedback category to allow others to upvote your suggestion! :slight_smile:

I’ll circle back on this thread should we have any updates in the future! Thanks for taking the time to provide your valuable feedback! :slight_smile:

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This isn’t something that Asana currently offers. However, ClickUp does so perhaps Asana will be motivated to continue to iterate and make their features more robust and useful.

If you merge, does ClickUp overwrite all values in the current task with those from the template (even if you’ve modified those values in the current task since you made it from the template)? If so, does it show you both values so you can see what you’re about to potentially overwrite?

You can choose what gets brought in from the new template. If you want to update things like the description, dependencies, custom fields, tags, and time estimates, etc., then you can select those and it will update those alone.

It’s ultimately up to you what you want to import in—suppose you’ve already been working on a checklist, you can either import the new checklist or just keep the old one as is and use the new template for future items. Note on checklists, you can have multiple checklists inside of each task (but you’re limited to one “set” of subtasks).

In Asana, it would be nice to update things like dependencies, tags, custom fields, and such. I’d reserve updating “templates” from updated subtasks and descriptions and other “in progress” items within a task since that would cause confusion—this could be alleviated by having a global template library though.

Asana could implement that the way ClickUp has as well — when saving a template in ClickUp you can choose who has access to that template. Also, when saving a template in ClickUp, you’re given the option of what items you want to be updated in the templated version in the template library.

Hope that makes sense @Phil_Seeman!

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There is an order of magnitude between ClickUp size and Asana size. You don’t code a feature the same way for millions of users :sweat_smile: so basically i’d say the bigger you get the slower you usually get :confused:

Thanks for the explanation!

From a product feedback standpoint—sure. From a development standpoint, that’s why SOLID principles are critical.

1 Like