“Which projects are currently stalled?”
“What projects are currently active in our organisation?”
“What are we working on right now?”
There is no easy way of answering this question within Asana. You can pay for solutions to do this for you or you can use the method laid out below. The same method can serve as a starting point to answer numerous questions regarding your Asana data.
Note: This process assumes you are using the Business Plan or higher in Asana as it relies on Portfolios.
Using Postman to access your Asana project data
Postman is a desktop application that allow you to access an API such as Asanas. An API (Application Programming Interface) usually allows custom code to interact with data. So for example, one might use the Asana API to create tasks in response to events in some other system. However, it can also be used to pull data out of Asana.
There are (of course) some security hurdles to overcome before you can access your Asana data in Postman – How to access asana data using Postman is documented here – It takes about 10 mins.
Once Postman is set up and accessing your Asana data, you should be receiving some JSON output.
Converting the JSON to a readable spreadsheet format.
For this, I use a handy website: https://json-csv.com/
Just paste the JSON into the text area. In my experience, the site can easily process >2000 lines of Json in a matter of seconds. On the subsequent page click on Download CSV or whatever format you prefer.
The resulting spreadsheet will probably have some columns you do not require so clean up as you see fit.
Create a portfolio of all projects
This is the slow bit. Create a new portfolio in Asana and add all of the projects to it.
Give it an appropriate name such as “All Active Projects”. Public or Private – Choose whatever you prefer, you can always change this later.
Use the “+ Add Work” button to add all the projects in your spreadsheet to the Portfolio. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there is no option to import a list of projects.
Depending on how many projects you have, this can take some time, but you will already have created a useful resource within your organisation.
Are we finished? Sure – If you want, but there’s a way to get even more out of this data.
A step further: Create a Live Dashboard using Google Sheets
What you have is handy, but this step will allow you to dig deeper into the progress of your projects. The following assumes you have a Google account and are relatively familiar with Google Sheets.
This takes less than a minute to generate your new Google Sheet report.
As you can see, this Google sheet remains in sync with your portfolio. So whenever you update your portfolio, your Google Sheet will replicate the change.
There is a time lag, so if you need the Sheet bang up to date with the latest data, just go through the export process again – This will not overwrite your current sheet, just update it with fresh data.
The graphs look interesting, but the really good stuff can be seen in the second tab: “Asana Portfolio Data”.
Some highlights to look for:
- “Current Task Count”:
- While your Task Progress gives you the Percentage Complete, this spreadsheet also includes the actual counts along with the count of Overdue tasks.
- “In the Last Week”:
- “Tasks Added” and “Tasks Completed” – In an organisation where dozens of projects are being worked on at any one time, this can be useful to differentiate between those that are getting attention and blocked/zombie projects.
Keeping everything up to date
Obviously, new projects will be created as time goes by so how do you keep things up to date? I repeat the Postman step once a week. Newly create projects usually appear at the bottom of the list. I add any new projects to my portfolio and the Google Sheet will update itself promptly after that.
Even more advanced dashboards can be created from this starting point. I’ll come back to these at a later date. Let me know what you would like to see by emailing antgalvin at gmail dot com.