Create and use Asana workflows

In this article, we'll show you how to create a workflow from scratch using a design team as an example. The team wants to streamline their work by routing messy requests from other teams to relevant assignees automatically. The workflow builder sets this up with minimal manual input.

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Setting up a workflow

You can use the workflow builder in any existing project or set it up while creating a new one.

Alan from the Design team is setting up a new project for the creative requests their team receives. They add the project's name, decide on its privacy settings, and then choose Set up workflow when asked how they would like to begin.

 

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Alan is prompted with the question What are the stages or sections of your project? They decide on a few sections that their team's work will move through and choose Intake, In progress/active, Review + Approval, and Complete.

The workflow builder asks Alan How are tasks being added to this project? Alan wants people to fill out a form when requesting something from their team. This way, Alan can ensure their team has all the information they need to get started on a request. Alan chooses Form submissions and creates the form in workflow builder without navigating away.

Alan finds using a form ideal as it allows them to employ custom fields and rules to delegate different requests to their team. When a request for Photography comes in, the requester selects it from the questions on the form. Once the form is filled out, a task is created automatically. The custom field Request type then displays the category selected by the requester, in this case, Photography.

Similarly, Alan can create the Request type custom field while they build out their form, so they never have to break their flow. When the form is ready, photography, video production, and creative copy requests will go to the right people every time - without Alan needing to assign any tasks manually, thanks to form branching logic.

While this automated process saves time, there may be occasions when colleagues need to discuss things before kicking off a request, so Alan includes an I don't know, let's talk! option, which will assign the task directly to Alan. Alan can discuss the request with the form submitter and triage the task.

Intake of work

When the form submitter fills out the form, a task is created in the project and includes all the information Alan's team might need to complete their work. As mentioned, the form submission task receives the relevant custom field values based on Alan's questions.

 

Prioritization of tasks

Alan has set up a rule that triggers when the custom field Photography is selected. The rule creates a subtask assigned to Jamie, who handles photography requests for the team. The subtask is given a due date of 21 days in the future, respecting Jamie's 3-week lead time for completing these requests.

Users can attach any files Jamie might need as they fill out the form, allowing Jamie to save time and focus on her work without going back and forth with the submitter. The submitter is automatically added as a collaborator and receives updates on the task's progress through their inbox. If necessary, both Jamie and the submitter can discuss the work in the comments section. 

Once Jamie finishes the asset, she changes a custom field, and the Legal team is brought in via a subtask to review the asset.

 

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Visible progress

Alan used the workflow builder to create an approval subtask for Sophie on the Legal team whenever the custom field Legal review is set to Ready for Legal review. Therefore, Sophie doesn't need to be involved in the 3-week photography production process until her expertise is needed.

Even though the task is about one month old and has been through the hands of several people, from Sophie's point of view, she only needs to focus on her approval subtask and approve, reject, or request changes. Sophie completes her subtask and sets the Legal review field to Legal review complete.

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Alan has set a rule to complete the parent task, move it to the Complete section, assign it to the submitter (using variables in rules), and inform them that the work is done.

Alan has choreographed a request for a creative asset without ever needing to manually assign or create any task by setting up his project with workflow builder at the start.

Choosing sections

Here's why Alan chose these sections.

Intake:

Alan wants a section at the beginning of his project's view where colleagues can manually add tasks to discuss the work in detail without triggering any rules. This section is also designed to receive any form submission the requester has selected I don't know, let's talk! when asked what kind of creative asset they require. 

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In progress/active:

This section contains all the tasks that Alan's team is working on to give them an overview of the ongoing work. If a task is still in progress, Alan or his colleagues can view the subtasks or custom fields associated with it to monitor progress.

Requests that enter the project through the form end up here and trigger rules that Alan has set up with the workflow builder. Based on the options the form submitter selects, subtasks will be assigned to specific individuals, and custom fields will be added.

Alan's team knows they don't need to look at any other section in the project apart from In progress/active. If a task is still in the Intake section, Alan is handling it. If a task is in the Review + Approval section, the asset is in the hands of the Legal team.

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Review + Approval:

The team always seeks approval from Sophie in Legal, and Alan has set up a rule for her to receive an approval subtask when the asset is ready. Sophie modifies one custom field value, and the task moves to the next stage.

Complete:

Alan has set up a rule that automatically moves completed tasks into the Complete section.

Alan's rule also assigns the task back to the task creator, who is always the person who requested the asset. He uses variables in rules to achieve this without any manual input.

Additional resources

Join our Creating basic workflows in Asana webinar and learn how to build effective workflows.

Read our workflow builder article to discover more workflow features. 

Learn how to build and use intake forms.

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