Managing/Prioritizing/Reporting A LOT of Projects in Asana

productivity
projects

#1

Hi Asana community!

My marketing department and I started using Asana almost six months ago to start managing all of our projects. It was working great for a while, but as our project load increases, I’m finding it difficult to manage everything without the interface becoming overwhelming with too many teams and/or projects. Here are some of the issues I’m facing:

  1. We provide support for multiple departments (B2B sales team, B2C sales team, product, etc.) plus execute our own initiatives (branding, packaging, digital marketing, etc. and we have ongoing and projects and those with time-constraints going on at all times. (There’s a lot of variation!)
  2. We have to report out each week to the entire company on project statuses, updates, etc.

I’d like to not make everything a “project” and sometimes use headers or tasks within a project instead (ex. Merchandising > This Store Display) or (ex. Packaging > Packaging Updates > SKU), but it’s hard to keep track of everything on a high-level because dashboards won’t report out on everything. So not only are we finding it difficult to report out to the team with all “projects” but also are having a hard time prioritizing ourselves across so many teams/projects/tasks.

Sorry if that was a lot! Any ideas or tricks for improving efficiency? I’m seriously stumped here!

Thanks! :slight_smile:


#2

@Kalen_Buchanio What came to mind is a combination of utilizing custom fields to further aggregate information (especially with their ability to be in the middle pane or inside the task) and then coming up with Advanced Search Reports using any field needed and the custom fields that you save as Favorites on the users that need them.

Sounds like you need all the levels of Asana plus the ability to aggregate in reports and then bring them back together with Advanced Searches for your management and team reporting…

I think the custom fields open up a number of ideas for reporting such as in the this book:

This is its associated blog

Maybe some of his articles on “cascading” would help

A custom field of Green-Yellow-Red would help identify the “stucks” which I assume is the focus of your weekly status reports.


Leveraging Asana for high-level project summary, with many teams in a department, how to leverage Asana?
#3

Oh and I have to take this moment to once again request that the left pane have an expand all and collapse all to the Team level for just such an instance when many teams exist!!!


#4

@Kalen_Buchanio
OK Kalen here is my attempt to facilitate your weekly reporting requirements.

  1. At the top of each project create a section that says Weekly Reporting Status
  2. Create A reoccurring task for every Friday titled Weekly Status Report or if you want more detail include Team name and Client or whatever you want. It will still have the custom field Weekly Status in it.
  3. Adopt the Red-Yellow-Green status by creating a custom dropdown field called Weekly Status and hide in the column. Custom Fields are in Premium but 5 members start at about $250 per year. Don’t know if you are a Premium member or not.
  4. The manager in charge of the project would be required to use the drop down to mark the status of the project.
  5. In the description box the manager writes a couple sentence description and:
  6. If there are tasks within the projects that are stucks he includes them as a hyperlink in the description box.
  7. Write an Advance report for incomplete task that the custom field Weekly Status is marked Red, ( The first priority for your company to know about and any of the tasks that are hyperlinked).
  8. Sort on Project
  9. Save as a Report Favorite and change name to whatever makes sense.
  10. Do the same thing for Yellows and Greens if necessary. Some companies prefer not to spend time on projects marked as Green as they are on track.
  11. Because the Team is not shown, you can see I am using an abbreviation at the start of each project name to identify the team. There have been requests to add the Team to this type of search.

I actually think this is as effective as the Dashboard feature because it is faster to scroll through and includes reference to tasks that are your “stucks” by there hyperlink reference.

I am attaching the Advanced Search for an example.

So there is one man’s thought but I am sure there are others. This is consistent with the book I referenced.


Leveraging Asana for high-level project summary, with many teams in a department, how to leverage Asana?
#5

I’m having the same problem. For example, our development team was using Asana to track development tasks. We have one Asana board for each product. It just didn’t work. When you have multiple tasks spread across multiple boards, there’s just no way to really know what you should be working on.

We solve this for the development team by replacing all those projects with a single, unified project. (Technically we merged all the git repos into a single repo and started to mange the tasks as github issues using waffle.io). But end result is that we can manage priorities properly now because there is just one single-source of truth.

My other teams are suffering from the same problem you describe, so I’m thinking to try this same approach. I still want teams to be able to maintain their own projects or organizational purposes, but I’m thinking to create a single, top-level project which is the master authority on priorities.

I don’t really have all the answers yet, but merging all the software development projects into a single board really brought a lot of clarity. So i think something similar needs to happen for my other teams. Let me know how things are going for you. Maybe we can solve this thing together.


#6

Hi @kbuchanio,

Short answer, use a task for a project and use labels for self-reporting.

I had similar issues like you, since I worked as Head of Online Marketing for several companies over the last years and exactly know your pain points.

How does it look like in action :slight_smile: :

First, it is often better to use a task instead of a project and have the todos as sub-tasks.

Why:

  • Multihoming: Everyone can add this project-task to his projects/overviews, so it can be in a roadmap, in a meeting agenda etc. (see the Project 1 in the screenshot)
  • Less projects in the left bar and thus better overview
  • It is also easier for your team to maintain the overview which work you do for other departments

Other tips:

  • Use priority labels to make transparent which priorities the different projects for other departments have within your department, so you avoid frustration and false assumptions in the other departments
  • Mention the objective of the project plus pros and cons in the task description (see screenshot), I found this very important especially in projects where people from different departments are involved. Almost always people have different things and objectives in mind.

Reporting:
I always enable other stakeholders to get their reporting on their own, so I save time.
For your purpose I suggest using tags with the department names e.g. “B2C sales team” (pink in the screenshot). So if someone from the B2C team wants to know what is going on with their projects, they simply need to click on the label, see screenshot below.

An alternative is, that you create a shared project e.g. “Marketing <> IT” were you collect all project-tasks.

If I would be in your shoes and the company really demands email-updates from you, I would collect all the links to the tag views for the different departments in one Google Doc file, which is send around every week.

Let me know what you think about it.

Best,
Sebastian


#7

There’s a ton of great potential solutions in here.

To add another option, I’d recommend using central “Summary” projects that collects key milestones tasks from across multiple projects. Within this set-up, each operational project would stay as-is with the action items assigned out to each person on the day they are due, and then you can have key milestones tasks across each of the projects that also lives in a central “Marketing Milestones” project. In the Milestones project, you can add a custom field for status, so at any time you can see the latest status of each milestone across dozens of different projects at once.

@paulminors just released a great article about this idea here that I would recommend checking out.


#8

A summary project is totally the answer, though I wish the dashboard would do this for me.


#9

Thanks for the share @Kaitie!


#11

Glad I’m not the only one with this problem!

In summary: Asana is not perfect for everything, but I’m learning there are some workarounds that have potential.

First, I switched from Trello to Asana because there was no way in Trello to see all tasks from all boards. I was thankful that Asana has this which is an improvement.

But even with this, now that I have a list of 100 tasks spread throughout 10 different Projects, how do I prioritize? I could prioritize by due date, but that’s not the only factor.

I think it’s best to create a system to prioritize for you so that you don’t waste brain power deciding what to do next. In the past I created a Google Sheet task matrix with priority factors and due dates that helped me answer the questions “What do I do next?” and “What do I do today?”

So I believe the answer is Connecting a Google Sheet Task Matrix with Asana via Zapier

Using Zapier you can connect your Google Sheet with all tasks to your Asana board.

I love using a Google Sheet matrix to see all tasks in one view, weighted by priority. I can very quickly edit them right there without clicking into each task in Asana.

This is where Google Sheets shines, but Asana shines in other ways: conversations between employees on certain tasks and projects, the visual boards view, and a few other features.

This is still a work in progress on my end and I don’t yet have THE SOLUTION but I think this brings some sanity to my workflow.

I haven’t yet had to deal with the reporting issue you’re discussing, but as Asana integrates with Google Sheets reporting, I think there’s a good flow you can design there to bring it full circle.


New Project View: Table
#12

@Joe_Robison - have you see this yet? http://d3fy.xyz/4tbu5S

Maybe your spreadsheet has more custom items that you need, but I wanted to check to be sure you know about the google spreadsheet link.


#13

I had seen this referenced before, but never explored because it was always referred to as reporting.

So I finally just checked it out, lots of potential. For those looking for the reporting aspect looks like it has a good amount of data to manipulate and customize which is awesome.

My Sheet screenshot above was more focusing on the “Managing/Prioritizing” section of this thread title, and shows a table for managing tasks before they’re acted on. My biggest struggle daily is “what do I do next?”, which is kind of the opposite of reporting, which is after the fact.

What I’d love to see here from Asana is something like this Google Sheet reporting that feeds directly into the interface. That is, allowing some sort of bi-directional sync. Allowing data to come out of Asana into Google Sheets but also allow data entered into Sheets to update and change Asana items.

For example, would love a button that says “Show all cards in Google Sheets”, where I could then add on more columns to the card views in a table, manipulate and prioritize those, and then send that data back into Asana, perhaps via custom fields for my new columns!

If something like that already exists would love to hear!


#14

@Sebastian_Paasch In theory, I like your idea of Using a Task as a Project & Tags/Custom Fields for self-reporting. Feels like I have too many tasks across too many projects and have a hard time prioritizing the ONE THING I need to focus on NOW, not to mention keeping tabs on what my team is working on & the status of each of those things…

however, at this time, Using a Task as a Project - you would then lose the ability to utilize the current Timeline feature (unless you Added all Subtasks to the main Project?) - correct? Any further thoughts on this?


#15

@Patrick_McGovern
Not really. I only use www.instagantt.com for gantt charts and timelines and it also works perfect with subtasks.
Give it a try and let us know what you think or if you have further questions.

Regarding your challenge with focusing, I can really recommend you OKRs:

Best
Sebastian