Doing sprints with Asana using custom field estimates 🔥📉

Mar 6, 2018

Scrum is one of the more popular frameworks for implementing Agile. It’s also the flavour that teams tend to pick first when they want to get started with Agile methodologies. With Scrum the product is built in a series of fixed-length iterations called sprints. The team's goal is to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. 

Strictly speaking, Asana doesn't have built-in support for the Scrum process. However you can use its core features to represent Scrum artifacts like product and sprint backlogs, time estimates, and time-boxed sprints. With this Burndown chart add-on for Asana, you can get a nice burndown chart so it's easy to track the progress of your sprint. 

The screenshot below shows an example Scrum board in Asana.

The columns in this board from left-to-right are:

In the beginning of the sprint, all the tasks scheduled for the sprint are in the sprint backlog list. During the sprint tasks are moved from left to right, and if everything goes as planned, all the tasks are in the Done column when the sprint ends.

If your backlog is scattered over multiple Asana boards, you can combine tasks from all of those boards into a single backlog by first adding them as data sources in the sources tab. 

There must be least one list to represent the work in progress. Depending on your workflow, there can be multiple in progress lists such as In Review or Waiting for deployment. Before starting a sprint, you should have mapped all your in progress states using the workflow mapping tool

There must be at least one list to represent completed work. Depending on your workflow, there may be multiple completed lists such as Done or Closed

In this example we're using a board based Asana project but you can use a list based project as well. In the case of list based project, the lists are equivalent to columns in a board based project. 


Setting estimates using custom fields

Estimates can be used to represent the effort (or time) required to complete a task. You don't need to specify a unit, it's just a number associated with a task. Screenful will read that number and use it as a measure throughout your dashboard.

To set estimates using a custom field, first add a custom field to your Asana project. In board based project, you can add a custom field to board via the project header dropdown

Notice that the field should be of type Number

Next, assign a value to each of the tasks in your project. The default value is zero if no value is given. 

Screenful will automatically import your custom fields and make them available in the Unit field in the chart settings. Once you select a custom field as unit it will be used as a metric in the reports.

Starting a sprint

So you have your board layout ready and you're ready start your first sprint. Now I will just assume that you've had your sprint planning meeting to come up with the scope for the sprint, and you've turned it into tasks in your backlog column. You've also assigned estimates to your tasks using a custom field.  

Make sure that the Sprint is enabled in the dashboard settings in the setup menu by going to Settings ► Dashboard.

Then go to the Sprint settings in your Screenful dashboard and enter the sprint details:

  • Sprint name - will be shown as the sprint name in the burndown chart

  • Sprint backlog - can be one or multiple columns in your Asana board

  • Done list - can be one or multiple columns in your Asana board

  • Start date - first day of the sprint

  • End date - last day of the sprint

  • Burn unit - burn unit can be either task count or an estimate assigned using a custom field

  • Counted time - select to include or exclude weekends

Notice that Screenful will automatically import your custom fields and make them available in the Burn unit field in the chart settings. So you should be able to select your custom field, in this case Story points, as unit for the sprint. 

Start the sprint by clicking Start sprint.

That's it! Now it's time to get to work. To mark a task done, either move it to the column that corresponds to the Done list, or simply check it as done using the checkmark. Once you complete tasks, you're burndown chart is updated to reflect the amount of work left. Go ahead and share it with your team!

In the burndown chart, the x-axis represents time, and the y-axis refers to the amount of work left to complete. It can be used to answer the question:

“Are we on pace to complete all the work we committed to by the end of this sprint?”

The goal, of course, is to have all the planned work completed so that the white curve converges with the x-axis by the end of the sprint. Can you keep up the smiley face until the end of the sprint!

Let us know if you have questions or feedback by contacting To stay on the loop, read our blog, or follow us on LinkedIn

This article was written by Sami Linnanvuo

Sami is the founder & CEO of Screenful, the company that turns data into visual stories. You can find him on Twitter.