Flowsana's Dynamic Duration Workflow is one of two workflow types that works with task dependencies, the other being the Auto-Adjust Workflow.
The Dynamic Duration workflow is designed for those scenarios where you have a repeating process that you do over and over, and you want to create a template where you enter durations for each task without any calendar dates.
The Auto-Adjust workflow, by contrast, works with projects that already have dates in them, and its operation is pretty simple: if you move a task, and that task has dependent tasks, Flowsana will move the dependents by the same number of days as you moved the dependency (predecessor) task.
Below are the details on how the Dynamic Duration Workflow works. To learn how to set up a Dynamic Duration template, and then create the projects that are derived from that template, see How to Set Up a Dynamic Duration Workflow.
When you put a project under the control of a Dynamic Duration workflow, it attaches three custom fields to the project. (If any of these fields doesn't exist, Flowsana creates it.)
Duration: This is a number of days, weeks, or months which defines how long the task will take to accomplish. Flowsana adds this time period to the task's Start Date and sets the resulting date as the task's Due Date. (See also Time Units below.)
Lag Time: This is a number of days, weeks, or months and can be applied to a dependent task. It defines the amount of time that Flowsana should allow between the Due Date or Completion Date of a dependency task and the Start Date of the dependent task which contains the lag time. It's also used to calculate a lag time between a project's start date and the start date of tasks in that project (see Project Rules below). You can specify a negative lag time (i.e. a lag time preceded by a minus sign), like -4 or -1w, to indicate that you want the dependent task to begin prior to the due date of its dependency task.
Assign To: This is a field in which you can enter the name of an Asana user who is responsible for executing a particular task. You then leave the Assignee field blank for the task. It's designed to be used for dependent tasks: such a task is initially not yet ready to be carried out (because it has dependency tasks which still need to be done first), so it does not have an assignee. As soon as its dependency task is marked complete, Flowsana assigns the task to the user whose name is in the Assign To field. Note that due to an Asana limitation, this field is a free-text field and in order to work properly, you will need to be sure to type in the name of the appropriate user so it exactly matches the user's name as defined in Asana.
The Duration and Lag Time fields can be specified in either days, weeks, or months. To specify a number of days, type the number of days followed by the letter d . For weeks, use the letter w . For months, use the letter m . The default unit is days, so you can also specify a number of days by simply entering a number with no subsequent letter.
|3 d ||3 days |
|3d ||3 days |
|3 ||3 days |
|1 w ||1 week |
|4w ||4 weeks |
|3 m ||3 months |
|1m ||1 month |
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING DYNAMIC DURATION WORKFLOWS
For projects you want to use with this workflow type, you should set the Duration, and optionally the Lag Time field, for each task in the project. I.e. you are defining the length of time that it takes to perform each task.
Then using the Flowsana website, put that project under Flowsana control and select Dynamic Duration Workflow. After that, tasks in the project will adhere to the following rules.
Flowsana implements the following operations at the project level for Dynamic Duration workflows:
- If you put a project under Flowsana control which doesn't have a start and due date set, then after it's under Flowsana control you set a start and due date, Flowsana will set all top-level (i.e. non-dependent) tasks in the project to have a start date equal to the project's start date. If any of these tasks have a Lag Time set, that will be taken into account when setting the start date.This is great when you want to make a new project from a template. Create and save the template without assigning any start/due dates to tasks or to the project. Then whenever you need a new project based on that template: create a new project from the template; then put that new project under Flowsana control; then assign a start and due date for the project. Flowsana will then set the appropriate dates for that project's tasks.
- If you have a project under Flowsana
control where a start date is set for that
project, and then you modify the project's
start date, Flowsana will adjust the dates
of all top-level (i.e. non-dependent)
tasks in the project. For example,
if you slide the start date of a project
back 3 weeks, Flowsana will slide the
start date of all top-level tasks back 3
Flowsana implements the following operations at the task level for Dynamic Duration workflows:
- Whenever the start date of a task is
changed, its due date will be recalculated
by adding the defined duration to the
task's start date.
- Any time a task's due date changes and it
has dependent tasks, each dependent task
is evaluated and its start date is
adjusted if needed. A dependent task's
start date is set to the due date of the
task it's dependent on, adjusted for any
lag time if one is set. If a dependent
task has multiple dependencies (i.e. is
dependent on multiple tasks), then the latest due date of all
of its dependencies is used for this
- If you change the Duration and/or Lag Time
of a task, its Start and/or Due date will
be adjusted as appropriate, and then any
dependent tasks will be adjusted as per
rule #2 above.
- If you change the Start and/or Due Date of
a task, its Duration and/or Lag Time will
be adjusted to match your change, and
then any dependent tasks will be adjusted
per rule #2 above.
- Completing a task, and working with
already-completed tasks, will have
different results depending on how you've
set two options when first creating your
template workflow. See the next section
for details. When a task is marked
complete and it has dependent tasks, the
start date of its dependent tasks is set
to the completion date of the dependency
task that was just marked complete,
adjusted for any lag time if one is
set. If a dependent task has
multiple dependencies (i.e. is dependent
on multiple tasks), then its start date is
only adjusted once all of its
dependencies are marked complete. Also, if
any of these dependent tasks has the name
of an Asana user in its Assign To field,
the task will be assigned to that person.
Flowsana handles operations involving completed tasks differently, depending on how you set two options: When completing a task, adjust its dependents and Keep completed dependent tasks fixed. You can choose to enable or disable each of these options when you first create a workflow for your template. After that, all new workflow-enabled projects that you create from that template will then have the options defined in the way you set them for that template.
Here's what those options mean:
- When completing a task, adjust it and its dependents: If this option is enabled (checked), then when a task is marked complete, two things happen: (1) the due date of the task is changed to be equal to the completed (i.e. today's) date; and (2) if the task you marked complete has dependent tasks, the start date of its dependent tasks is set to the completion date of the task that you just marked complete - that is, today's date - adjusted for any lag time if one is set .The purpose of this option is to support scenarios like the following: say Task A is due on a particular Thursday, and it has a dependent Task B starting that day. But now let's say Task A gets done 3 days early, on Monday instead of Thursday. In this scenario, the principle is that on Monday when Task A is completed, you say, "Oh, we were planning to start Task B on Thursday but since Task A is done already, there's no reason we can't start Task B today on Monday; there's no need to wait till Thursday since its predecessor is complete." If this scenario matches how you operate, then enable (check) this option. If, however, you do not want any tasks to be adjusted when a task is marked complete, then disable (uncheck) this option. Again, note that as stated in (1) above, this option will change the due date of the task being marked complete (Task A in the example) to the current (i.e. completed) date of that task.
- Keep completed dependent tasks fixed: If this option is enabled (checked), then once a task is marked complete, if it is dependent on another task before it, it will not be adjusted even if the predecessor tasks before it are changed. similarly, any tasks beneath the completed task that are dependent on it will not be adjusted.The purpose of this option is to support the scenario where, once a task is completed, you do not want it shifting in time regardless of what happens with the timeline of the project and with other tasks.
Note that these two options are not an either/or where you select one or the other; rather, they're independent of each other. The first one has to do with what Flowsana does when you first mark a task complete; the second has to do with what Flowsana does with completed tasks after they have already been marked complete. In general, if you enable When completing a task, adjust its dependents, you will probably also want to enable Keep completed dependent tasks fixed. But it's up to you, depending on the behavior that you want.
If you have any Flowsana Rules defined for a Dynamic Duration template, when you create a new project from that template, Flowsana will duplicate all of the template's Rules into the new project.
*Note: It is important to remember that in order for Dynamic Duration Workflows to work, you need to set up dependencies between your tasks. Otherwise, Flowsana will not know what tasks to adjust.*