Use Asana Task Dependencies to Put Your To-Do Lists on Autopilot


Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks

Handling teams with interconnected tasks can be a hassle. This can’t happen until that is done, and that can’t be started until someone finishes with some-other-thing. If you’re managing a project or are merely one of the team members, you need to know who is working on what and when to move things along. For example, if you’re re-launching a coffee subscription-box website, design won’t start until the team decides the best strategy to increase subscriptions and you plan the content to display.

The more tasks in your project, the more confusing this can be, and the more likely someone will drop the ball. Then everybody’s on four legs searching for the ball instead of getting work done.

Fortunately, Asana’s task dependencies features — available only in Asana Premium — can help you control a team’s workflow and track the critical path. If you know how the project pieces rely on each other, you can create the entire workflow ahead of time, and then watch as tasks fall like dominoes.

As the name implies, dependencies allow you to mark a task as waiting on another task. Assignees receive a notification when the first task is completed, indicating that it’s time for the team member to take charge.

To set a dependency, look on the right pane drop-down menu, and choose “Mark as Waiting On….”.

Then select a task by searching for its name. For most website projects, coding doesn’t start until design is done, so it is smart to make “code new website pages” dependent on “design new website pages.”

You can identify a dependent task visually by its yellow banner, which shows the task it’s waiting on, who’s responsible for it (so you know whom to nag), and the due date. When someone finishes the first task, the yellow banner disappears.

An Asana task can depend on more than one task (just as coding depends on both content creation and design), and multiple tasks can be dependent on a single task (choosing the payment platform has to be done before you set up payment gateways, extra plugins, and finalize the overall site design). If a task is dependent on multiple tasks, assignees get a single notification once the tasks are all completed.

Asana adds a note on tasks that depend on them, so a team member knows if unfinished work is slowing down other people.

It’s a good idea to set the task dependencies as soon as you understand the team’s process. Nobody wants to sit idle while waiting on someone else to complete a task, nor does any team member want to feel as though he is holding the project back.

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