Manage approvals and find at-risk work
- Skip Ahead to
- How to build in approvals and see task statuses
- How to manage work needing approvals
- See at-risk work by running search reports on your custom fields
“Is this approved” and “What work is at risk?” are simple questions that can have complicated answers—but they don’t have to. Trying to parse through inconclusive feedback or pinging teammates can waste time and still not give you answers. Instead, you can build approvals and task statuses into Asana projects, like for marketing campaigns or creative requests. In a few clicks, reviewers can give a clear sign off, and project managers can run reports to see where work might be blocked.
Why manage approvals?
Often, reviewers are working from an unprioritized to-do list, which doesn’t always mean they’re focused on or aware of work they’re blocking or work that’s ready for them to review. Using custom fields will help you pinpoint the most important work in need of review to ensure it gets done on time and to help you assign out review tasks appropriately. Categorizing your approval tasks with custom fields also makes them easy to find and report on.
How to add approvals to your workflow and see task statuses
If you don’t have a project in mind, start with our Work and Creative Requests template, which has everything you need.
Then, add custom fields to the project where you want to see this information. By creating custom fields for “content status,” “priority,” and “approval stage,” you’ll see this information for each task and how far into the creation process it is, how important it is, and if it’s been approved or not. Here’s how to add approval custom fields:
How to add custom fields
- Click the blue Add Custom Fields link at the top of a project.
- Search for “Approval stage” (you’ll see the Asana logo next to it) and add it.
- Then search for “Content status” and “Priority.”
That’s it! The next section will teach you how to turn your fields into a true approval process.
How to manage work needing approvals
Once you’ve added the custom fields, you’re ready to teach your team about the updated process to make things go smoothly. In any project where you’ve added the approval custom fields, try the following workflow:
- Ensure all reviewers and the final approver are @mentioned in the task description so it’s clear who is responsible for each step of the approval process. They’ll also be added as task followers to stay updated on progress.
- The task assignee should update the “content stage” custom field at each step of the way so it’s clear where they are in the creation process. (This especially becomes relevant for search reports below).
- Once they complete their work for the task, they should update the “approval status” custom field to “Ready for Review”. Make sure to attach any relevant files needed for the review.
- Next, they can reassign the task to the reviewer, with a task comment explaining that their work is now ready for review.
- Once the reviewer has taken a look, they can update the custom field to “Changes Needed” if updates need to be made or “Approved”’ if it’s ready to go.
- Then the task should be reassigned to the contributor so they can incorporate any necessary feedback, or mark their work complete if approved.
See at-risk work by running search reports on your custom fields
Using custom fields to show what stage work is in and if it’s approved can make a world of difference for stakeholders to understand where their work stands. But project managers can also leverage this information to stay ahead of problems before they happen.
Not noticing problems until work is overdue, or hoping a teammate will let you know they’re behind sets your team up for bigger problems that can affect morale, the success of your goals, and your company’s bottom line. Instead, use the Advanced Search reports below to uncover potential problems and stay ahead.
How to create reports to see what work needs your approval
Approvals reports help you understand what work might be blocked. For this example, create a report of work that isn’t yet approved to know who we might have to ping.
Creating a search report custom fields
- First click into the search bar in the [top bar] of Asana.
- Click Advanced Search. This pulls up a variety of search criteria options to help you refine results.
- For this report you want to see Tasks that are Incomplete and due within the next 5 days.
- Next, click Add Filter then Custom Field and type in “approval stage.”
- Set the options to is and Ready for Review.
- Click Search to run your report
You’ll see a list of results that you can further filter by assignee, due date, project, and more by using the filter options in the top right corner. This list of results gives you an idea of what’s due soon but still isn’t approved yet. For anything that appears to be at risk, you can comment on the task to ask stakeholders if they think the task will be on track.
Want to run this report regularly? Click Save Report and you’ll be able to access it anytime from your sidebar with up-to-date results every time you click into it.
How to create reports for “at-risk” work
To take your approval report one step further, you can also filter results by your “content stage” custom field. This will help you spot work that isn’t quite off the ground or approved but has a deadline approaching. Then you can adjust due dates or other project components as needed.
- Follow steps 1-5 above.
- Add the priority and content status custom fields to your search by clicking Add Filter then Custom Field and adding both custom fields to the search.
- Set the options to is and Not Started for “content status” and is high for “priority.”
- Click Search to run your report.
This list of results will show you work that is not started but is due soon and high priority. Depending on the type of task, that might not be a big deal, but for work like first drafts of blogs, designs, or big launch materials, that can definitely be a sign something is off track and give you a starting point on where to check in with your team.
Planning and managing your work in Asana gives you clarity into project plans and knowing where work stands. But even more powerful is using the information in Asana to help make more strategic decisions to save time, hit deadlines, and see problems before they happen—with just a few clicks and reports.