Working with External Clients

Often the topic arises of how to work with external parties and, in particular, how to best manage tasks that contain a combination of both shared and internal-only content. I don’t believe the approach shown here has been previously covered, hence this tip.

First, some background. See @Andrea_Mayer’s great tip giving several approaches to working with external clients:

Let’s consider another approach using a feature released after Andrea’s post: A purpose-built project used to inform the client of task/project status but that not require them to have an Asana login; just a private link and a web browser. This is one of the lowest-effort approaches from the client’s perspective.

From the internal team’s perspective, as you’ll see, this permits private, safe, versatile, seamless, and widespread use of Asana features for them, without sharing those details with the client.

This is accomplished by using the shareable read-only links/views as described here:

As a read-only view, this won’t meet all collaboration needs, of course; this use case is strictly for informing clients of task/project status, no more. Their view could look as follows in List view (Board, Calendar, and Timeline views are options too):

The project that enables the above view for the client, when viewed by the internal team, might look like this (note that “Public to web” is on):

But the internal team doesn’t actually work in this project. Through rules, they multi-home tasks there and instead work in this internal project day-to-day:

If on a Business or Enterprise plan, the internal team can use rules to automate the multi-homing: Any tasks created in or moved to the Client Public Tasks section will be added to the Yeti Industries Shared Project to give the client visibility.

The power of this solution comes in the ease of use for internal users. They know that the only parts visible to the client will be:

  • Task title
  • Completion status
  • Assignee
  • Due date

That means that internal users can freely put private information everywhere else and not worry about the client seeing it. All other fields are automatically private, including:

  • Description
  • Custom Fields
  • Multi-homed projects
  • Comment thread
  • Subtasks

In all other approaches of sharing tasks with clients, the ability to comingle private metadata is more tortuous and awkward; here it’s more natural.

There are many use cases for working with external clients and correspondingly many different valid approaches. I think this one can be considered as a solution for the case of keeping the client informed, unburdened with the need to set up an account and log in, and offering more unfettered Asana use by all internal users day in and day out.




Very practical. I’ve certainly faced this challenge, and your tips will be useful. Thank you Larry @lpb !

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Oh yes nice now that read-only view links exists this is great indeed!

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Thanks, @David_Nelson, and thanks, @Andrea_Mayer–and I just updated the post to clarify about the feature coming out later.



Thanks and I updated my article to reference your great post there.

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I had meant to add a comment there; that’s even better–thanks, @Andrea_Mayer!

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Thank you for sharing, with a couple of customers you are already using this method and it is very practical especially to keep the customer informed and not see the need to make a call asking the status of the task. Even so, it will depend on how connected the customer wants to be.

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Like you say, as a read-only view, this won’t meet all collaboration needs, of course; this use case is strictly for informing clients of task/project status, no more.

Still waiting for the product team to acknowledge and address the need for folks from 2 or more firms to collaborate where all can contribute to projects.

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While we are on this topic, we have used Asana for ‘Onboarding Clients Into Our Product’ in past with mixed results. Any best practices?