Asana releases new “Waiting on…” dependencies

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 Filed under:   Asana news, Reviews

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Asana launched a new feature at the end of July 2016 to manage dependencies. By selecting “Mark as Waiting on…”, you get visual cues that a task can’t begin yet, as well as real-time feedback on when dependent tasks are completed.

Dependencies has been one of the last feature sets that traditional project management tools utilize (like Microsoft Project or Atlassian), but Asana lacked. Previously, you could either link to a task using hypertext or use a 3rd-party tool like Instagantt. Now all premium organizations can natively show dependencies within Asana.

The addition of this feature shows Asana is continuing to make the collaboration platform more powerful. We believe Asana will continue to prioritize administrative, security, and “power” features to attempt to move upmarket into medium and large businesses for higher profitability. With the new custom fields feature and dependencies only being offered to premium organizations, it appears Asana is working harder to convert free organizations as well.

Asana's new "Waiting on..." feature
Asana's new dependency feature. Image from Asana's blog.

After selecting “Mark as Waiting On…”, a yellow visual cue appears at the top of the task. The assignee of this dependent task will receive Inbox notifications if due dates change on precedent tasks and when precedent tasks are completed.

A nice touch in the implementation is that multiple tasks can be marked waiting on a single task, or a single task can be marked waiting on multiple tasks. This provides a lot of flexibility for workflows.

Overall, I was hoping for a little more functionality with this feature. In essence, all of this was already possible by simply following relevant tasks—you receive notifications when followed tasks change due dates or when they are completed. It’s definitely better than before, but areas where I could see future enhancements include:

  • Add “Waiting on…” as a filter for search to build a report. This one is a no-brainer because now there is still no way to see all the tasks you’re waiting on in one place.
  • A built-in visual representation, such as a Gantt chart or some other way to visualize task relationships. DigiSpoke is another paid 3rd-party tool that can import your Asana workspaces with a very visual way to manage projects.
  • Allocate times to workflows or make due dates dependent (i.e. move due dates to predecessors based on changing successors due dates, or conversely delay successors’ due dates if predecessors slip past their due dates)
  • Provide more robust task dependency options (Asana is only utilizing the “Finish to Start” dependency, but there are other options like “Start to Start,” “Finish to Finish,” or “Start to Finish.”)

Asana has already stated this is a “first step in managing dependencies,” so we expect to see plenty of new iterations in the months ahead. There is no API for this feature yet, so external tools like Instagantt and Zapier will not be able to access this.

What are your impressions with this feature? How could it improve in the future?

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