Blueprints for deadline-bound projects and ongoing processes

In Asana, workflows represent your business processes. This article will look at two common project "blueprints" you can use to build project workflows in Asana.

What is a workflow?

A workflow in Asana is a structured series of steps designed to efficiently manage and complete a set of tasks within a project. With workflows, you can break down your processes into smaller steps and follow them in order to achieve a desired outcome. 

Workflow building blocks

The various objects in Asana – like projects, tasks, and subtasks – and features like custom fields, forms, and rules are your building blocks when creating workflows.

Blueprint 1: Deadline-bound projects

Deadline-bound projects have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Work happens in order before a specific deadline.

Examples of deadline-bound projects

  • Events
  • Product launches
  • Employee onboarding

Characteristics of deadline-bound projects

  • Tasks are completed in sequence
  • Represents a discrete body of work
  • The project has a final deliverable or due date

Managing a deadline-bound project in Asana

Liona is the Events Coordinator at Phoenix Corp and uses Asana to support their team's event planning workflow.

As event planning work typically happens in sequential order, Liona creates a new project and starts organizing their event in list view.

how to organize a dead-bound project in Asana.png

You can see that Liona has organized their project in a list view by:

  1. Adding sections
  2. Breaking up work into subtasks
  3. Using custom fields
  4. Including milestones

Add dependencies to automate handoffs

In a deadline-bound project, the sequence of work is important. With timeline view, you can map out your project plan to see how all the work fits together. 

Draw dependencies to connect work as you create your project plan. Dependencies refer to the connections between tasks that dictate the sequence in which activities should be executed. With task dependencies, you can mark a task as blocking another task, or blocked by another task. If you spot a timing conflict, you can adjust the due date on the timeline. Your team will receive notifications when blocking tasks are completed.

adding dependencies to tasks.png

Create custom templates for common workflows

Creating custom templates saves time on future project setup and ensures everyone follows the right processes. You can update these templates as you refine your processes and learn from past projects.

Looking back at the example above, once Liona has finished building out this project, they'll follow the same process for other events. They can convert their project to a custom template to easily replicate the process.

To convert a project to a template, use the drop-down next to the project name and click Save as template. If dates are set in your custom template, choose a start or end date when creating your new project. Asana will then automatically schedule task dates for you.

Templates for deadline-bound projects

Manage your team's deadline-bound projects more successfully by starting with Asana's project templates gallery.

Blueprint 2: Ongoing processes

These projects move through different stages. Work is complete when it's at the final stage. The team repeats the same process for each piece of work, and the project never ends. 

Examples of ongoing processes

  • Weekly agendas: tasks move on and off the agenda
  • Ongoing calendars: tasks represent events, content, or other items
  • Issue tracking: new issues come in, sorted by priority or status, and move through stages to resolution

Characteristics of ongoing processes

  • Work moves through stages
  • Project is an evergreen pipeline for actionable work

Managing an ongoing process in Asana

Jamie is the Creative Producer at Phoenix Corp. The Events team often submits design requests for images. Jamie sets up a project in board view to streamline and automate their team's creative request intake process.

setting up an ongoing process in Asana.png

  1. Jamie sets up the request project in board view. It is intuitive to track the stages of a process horizontally across the board.
  2. The sections show the stages that work moves through, from New Requests to Recently Completed.
  3. From the Customize menu, Jamie adds custom fields. They have added fields for priority, approval stage, and estimated hours.
  4. Jamie views subtasks in board view by clicking on the branching item in the bottom corner of a task.

Standardize requests with forms

Jamie created a form in this project to serve as a single entry point for work requests and collect relevant information upfront. When someone fills out the form, it will appear as a new task in this project.

With forms, you can standardize how work gets kicked off for your team, gather necessary information, and ensure that no work falls through the cracks. You can use forms with internal and external teams to collect and consolidate information and minimize back and forth.

Automate repetitive actions with rules

Since some steps in Jamie's process happen the same way each time, they add rules to automate everyday actions and reduce busy work.

Rules allow you to streamline routine tasks and establish workflows with ease. For a rule to work, you need a trigger that activates the rule and an action that is performed automatically.

Creating team alignment

Use these tips to connect related work and increase visibility across your projects.

  1. Multi-home the same task into many projects
  2. @mention tasks or projects in descriptions and comments
  3. The project overview should explain the project's purpose, define who is involved, share key resources, and give status updates.

How to create a workflow

how to create a workflow using the workflow builder.png

To build a workflow:

  1. Navigate to the Workflow tab in your project
  2. Add intake sources (these can be forms, rules, or manually)
  3. Add triggers to move tasks to different sections and determine what should happen automatically

Below is an example of a workflow for creative requests.

how a workflow looks like.png

Additional resources

Sign up here if you would like to join a live training session on creating basic workflows in Asana.

Learn more about how to create workflows with our workflow builder article.

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