Manage approvals and find at-risk work

“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

Before getting started, pick a project where you’d like to start tracking task approvals, like a work and creative requests or marketing campaign project.

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 a custom field:

Add custom fields for your approvals workflow in Asana by clicking next to your project header.

How to add custom fields

  1. Click the project header dropdown (next to the name of your project).
  2. Select Manage Custom Fields
  3. Click Add Field to Project and 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Next, they can reassign the task to the reviewer, with a task comment explaining that their work is now ready for review.
  5. 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.
  6. Then the task should be reassigned to the contributor so they can incorporate any necessary feedback, or mark their work complete if approved.

Build a better process to manage approvals and see asana task statuses.

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.

Add custom fields for your approvals workflow in Asana by clicking next to your project header.

Creating a search report custom fields

  1. First click into the search bar in the [top bar] of Asana.
  2. Click Advanced Search. This pulls up a variety of search criteria options to help you refine results.
  3. For this report you want to see Tasks that are Incomplete and due within the next 5 days.
  4. Next, click Add Filter then Custom Field and type in “approval stage.”
  5. Set the options to is and Ready for Review.
  6. Click Search to run your report

Add custom fields for your approvals workflow in Asana by clicking next to your project header.

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.

  1. Follow steps 1-5 above.
  2. 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.
  3. Set the options to is and Not Started for “content status” and is high for “priority.”
  4. 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.

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Asana Lessons

Learn the Asana basics in less than 15 minutes with these quick lessons

Tasks

Tasks Lessons

Track all of your work

3 Minutes

My Tasks

My Tasks Lessons

Always know what to do next

3 Minutes

Projects

Projects Lessons

Work with teammates

3 Minutes

Inbox

Inbox Lessons

Communicate even faster

3 Minutes

You can use tasks to track, collaborate on, and organize all your work.

Tasks can be to-dos, ideas, notes, or reminders.

Assign a task to yourself or a teammate.

Press Tab+M to quickly assign a task to yourself.

Add a due date so your deadline is clear.

Add instructions and expectations in the task description field.

Type @ to link to other tasks, people, conversations, or projects.

When you @mention someone, they’ll be added to your task as a follower.

Followers get notified when new comments or attachments are added.

Add anyone who needs to stay up to date on your task as a follower.

They can always unfollow to stop getting notifications on your task.

Add comments to ask questions or give followers updates.

Heart a comment to let followers know you’ve seen it.

Add relevant files or irrelevant GIFs as attachments.

You can also attach directly from Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box.

Create subtasks to break your task into smaller steps.

When you’ve added a subtask, press enter to add another.

Subtasks can contain all the same details as regular tasks.

Click the comment bubble to add comments or attachments to a subtask.

You can create tasks from any screen using your top bar.

Every Task has a unique URL to easily copy and share.

Congrats! Looks like you’re up to the task.

On to the next lesson!

Always know what to do next with My Tasks.

My Tasks is a list of every task assigned to you.

It makes managing your work simple.

Click on your My Tasks list and start typing to add tasks.

Like a text document, add a new line for each new task or paste in any list.

Forward to x@mail.asana.com to turn your emails into tasks

Asana will translate your email into a task, including your attachments.

New tasks will appear at the top of your list in New Tasks.

Tasks you add to My Tasks are private to you.

Click Make Public to share them with your team.

Prioritize tasks as Today, Upcoming, or Later.

Click on the blue dot next to the task, to quickly sort it.

Mark the tasks you’ll have time for Today.

Teammates can view your My Tasks list to see what you’re up to.

They’ll only see tasks you’ve made public or shared in a project (more on projects later).

Mark tasks due within a week as Upcoming so you can see what will be due soon.

On its due date, your task will move from Upcoming to Today.

Just like magic.

Mark tasks due in more than a week for Later.

They’ll be out of your way until their due date approaches.

Your tasks will move from Later to Upcoming a week before they’re due.

Keep My Tasks prioritized to always know what to work on and what’s coming next.

Now you know how to track and plan your work!

Next, learn how to work with your team in Asana.

Work together on groups of tasks with projects.

Projects help you track and organize the steps in a process or initiative.

Like an event plan, product launch, or editorial calendar.

Like My Tasks, simply click and type to add tasks to your project.

If you have your steps in a document or email already, paste in that list.

Add tasks to your project from email.

View your project’s unique email address from the project dropdown menu.

Add your tasks to other related projects.

Tasks can be included in multiple projects.

Add sections to organize tasks in a list project.

Type : at the end of any task title to make it a section.

Or, add columns to organize tasks in a boards project.

Drag and drop tasks between or within columns to reorder.

Assign your tasks and set due dates.

Never miss a deadline with your project calendar.

Drag and drop tasks on your calendar to change their due dates.

Add everyone who needs to stay updated on your project as members.

Project members will get notified of new conversations, statuses, and tasks.

Post conversations to make announcements or start discussions.

Your post will be sent to all project members.

Use Progress to see how your project is moving forward.

Set a project status to update your team on how it’s going.

The Project Owner will be reminded to set a status once a week.

Open and organize projects from your sidebar.

Favorite projects to pin them to the top of your sidebar.

Click the star button on the left of your project name to favorite it.

Create new projects from any screen using your top bar.

Now you can move projects forward with your team.

Just one more lesson before you dive in.

Communicate and coordinate faster with Inbox.

Check Inbox to quickly read and respond to your latest updates.

Inbox will notify you when you have a task due…

and when teammates update tasks, conversations, and projects you follow.

Open and respond to updates without leaving Inbox.

Click an update and you’ll have all the context you need to respond.

Archive updates you’re ready to dismiss.

Click the X that appears on the right of an update to archive it.

Open Archive to move dismissed updates back to your Inbox.

Click the arrow that appears on the right of an archived update to move it back to Inbox.

Unfollow tasks or projects to stop receiving updates about them.

In the end, you have control over the updates you receive (or choose not to receive)

When you’re ready, you can turn Asana’s Email notifications off.

Most communication with your team can be more easily managed from Inbox. Just remember to check it often.

Congratulations! Now you’re ready to have a great work day with Asana.