How to use Asana to integrate policies and procedures into your daily operations

Are you struggling with ways to keep your team’s output and processess consistent? Policies and procedures integrated into your daily operational tasks can be a simple and effective way to overcome these challenges.

One of the hardest parts of using a workflow & task management system is getting people to adopt and use it. Scale and flexibility are key when growing a team or delegating tasks within your organisation. Without the right framework, delegation can result in inefficiency and sometimes it can deliver bad results for your customers. Most organisations can get scared as they implement new systems as they worry about what their staff will think and will it result in problems.

Typically, organisations will see team members using the system differently. The same is true when it comes to operational tasks within a business. We all think we do things the best way. I love the idea of rules when it comes to the implementation of common and recurring tasks. Having a basic framework for how a task should be performed can eliminate costly problems and inefficiencies. If your business specifically relies on a single person’s knowledge and experience to complete a task then you have a clear gap in execution if something goes wrong with that person or if they decide to leave.

Documenting policies and procedures inside your organisation isn’t a new concept. If you have policies and procedures around how to execute on specific tasks then ask yourself a few questions…

  1. Where are these policies and procedures stored and are they easily accessible?
  2. Do they get updated regularly?
  3. Do people use them to get help and support on a daily basis?
  4. Are they used for training when new employees are onboarded?
  5. Do people know they exist?
  6. Do people follow the general guidelines of your policies & procedures?

If you answered no to a few of these, you definitely aren’t alone. A large percentage of businesses don’t regularly update their policies and procedures. They also don’t integrate them into their daily operational activities. Using Asana I’ve worked with a few high compliance businesses that relied upon policies & procedures being an integral part of their workflow. Below is a best practice approach to documenting and using policies and procedures inside Asana.

Why use Asana for your policies & procedures?

Policies and procedures provide context to your operations and more specifically any workflows you build inside Asana. Let’s give an example of a recurring assigned task inside a workflow that requires an employee to complete the office opening tasks. At face value it seems like a mediocre task that becomes automatic. While, this is true things can change like…

  • What if the employee that regularly completes the opening tasks is sick?
  • What if you onboard a new employee that needs to take over these tasks?
  • What if the opening tasks change six, twelve or twenty four months from now?

Integrating policies and procedures that can be updated in a central spot can alleviate common problems. Asana provides an opportunity for you to integrate your policies and procedures in one location that all your team members can easily access. Let’s jump into an example…

  • I would recommend creating a new team called “Policies & Procedures”.
  • I would next recommend to segment your projects in “Policies & Procedures” by the operations of your organisation. A common structure would be “Sales & Marketing”, “Operations”, “Financial”, “Human Resources”, “Information Technology”

Let’s use “Human Resources” as an example and build our policies and procedures library. Here you can see I’ve set up a really simple project that maintains some policies, procedures and general information around tasks that need to be completed within the organisation. These can be segmented into sections that are applicable for your business. When thinking about your policies and procedures it can be helpful if you have already created workflows inside Asana. For example a common task inside our organisation may be the onboarding of a new employee. This takes a repeatable process over and over again as your organisation grows. It’s a classic example of a workflow you could create inside Asana. Integrated with policies and procedures you can make the execution of those tasks inside your business consistent no matter who is completing them. What we want to create is a systemised way for people to complete tasks that have been delegated to the standard you want with errors minimised.

Next, after you have created your working list of defined policies and procedures it’s time to populate them. You have a couple of options here…

  1. If you use a cloud storage service like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive you can attach policy and procedure documents directly to the items you’ve just created
  2. You can outline the policies and procedures directly in the description for the task in Asana

Both ways are easy to manage and have their use cases. I always like using the description tab in Asana because it allows you to easily reference and link to other policies and procedures, documents or anything else in Asana.

Integrating them with your workflows

Policies and procedures become useful when you start using them inside your operational workflows with Asana. The use of tasks and subtasks for some people using Asana can becoming confusing. People regularly ask things like…

  1. How detailed should I get with my tasks?
  2. When should I use sub-tasks?
  3. How far should I nest my tasks?

There are scenarios where you should use tasks and sub-tasks. It really depends on the workflow and the business. I’ve found that as you start using Asana subtasks should be left alone until you have a good handle on the basic functionalities of task management. An easy way to do this is to use a central location for procedures and link your high level tasks to them for easy reference by your team. Here is a quick example using the “Opening Tasks” we discussed earlier. If I’m the person opening the office I might have to perform 10 actions to get the office opened. In Asana you could…

  • List all 10 tasks under an “Opening” section
  • You could create a task called “Perform the office opening tasks” and list all 10 actions as sub-tasks
  • The last and most underutilised way is to create a task called “Perform the office opening tasks” and then link internally in the task description to your policies and procedures on opening in Asana.

This is a simple example, however you can probably see scenarios inside your organisation where option 3 will make sense and I’ve found it over and over again when working with clients. It becomes an efficient resource for standardisation without task overload. You want your task management to be able to scale efficiently as your organisation grows.

This is an example of an operational workflow linking to a policy and procedure. Some benefits of this include…

  • You only need to update your policy and procedure in one location, but you can link it to multiple tasks
  • People can reference things in the same task management software they are working in. Moving between different screens and software can be frustrating.
  • It’s a great training resource. Learning on the fly and inside your operational task management system is a great way to get new employees engaged on the way you do things.

Setting this up is really simple. If you have an operational workflow just use the @symbol in the task description and start typing the name of your policy or procedure you just setup. Click on it when you find it and a link will be created. Now when your team is going through and completing the task they can reference any relevant policies and procedures.

Building a policies and procedure library in Asana is simple. Extend it a bit further by integrating it into your operational task management within your team and you will be able to achieve efficiency, improved delegation and less problems when it comes to delivery. Forget about internal intranets and other confusing options. Simplify your operations and you can get it all working inside Asana in a way that is functional and easy to manage ongoing.