There are hundreds of project management applications around, each with their own claims as to how they will help boost your productivity and project management mastery. Trello, Asana and Basecamp are three of the most well-established, widely-recognised, and popular project management applications. We have tried all 3 at Zamzar and have some opinions …
Whether you are a freelancer juggling multiple projects, a project manager keeping your team on track, or a manager looking for an instant overview of how multiple projects are going, having effective project management software you can trust is key. Here, we’ll explore three popular applications, Trello, Asana and Basecamp, looking at the pros and cons of each to help you decide what might fit well for you.
Why use a project management app at all?
Project management apps help you consolidate your ideas, plans and tasks, whilst enabling you to communicate with your team or client. They also enable you to keep all key information, communications and files in one place that you can regularly refer back to. If you are currently working with a spider’s web of email, spreadsheets, word documents and post it notes stuck to the back of your cat a project management app could make a big difference in easing your pain.
Trello is a lightweight and flexible tool that gives you flexibility and simplicity. Started back in 2011, Trello was sold to software giant Atlassian in 2017 and has continued to grow and develop ever since. Trello is like a virtual pinboard. It runs on just a few basic elements; boards, lists and cards. A board is a place to store all of the information relating to one particular project, acting as a live pinboard of cards, which represent individual tasks.
Each board can contain a series of vertical lists, where you can store these individual tasks, for example; ‘To do’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’. A card can be anything you want it to be, but in essence, holds a set of information, either text, images or attachments.
It’s easy to add team members or clients into boards so they also can get an overview of a project’s status. They could instantly look at the board outlined in our example and see which tasks have been done and those which are still to do.
Cards can be allocated to individual team members, given colours and labels based on the category the card falls into, given individual deadlines (with reminders), and can include a range of optional features such as checklists or integrations with other applications such as Harvest time tracking software.
As you complete tasks you can move your cards along the lists, archiving them once you no longer need that information.
- It has a nice design and it is quick and easy to learn how to use the software
- Flexible – you can use lists, cards and boards in a way that suits you best
- If used correctly, can give a clear overview of the status of individual tasks within a project
- It is easy to assign team members to specific cards
- Integrates with many third-party applications
- Can be difficult to keep track of team communication + assets when they are stored across multiple cards – a central place to store conversations and files would help here
- The software is deliberately limited on functionality, so it may not be the best solution for complex projects
- The tool is reliant on people keeping cards and lists up to date
Price: Trello has offers a variety of plans, with free, business ($9.99 per user per month) and enterprise-class ($20.83 per user per month) options.
Basecamp launched way back in 1999 (at a time when the Internet was held together by bits of string and dial-up modems) and has been growing in strength each year. The software is full of useful tools to help your team collaborate on projects including; attachments, commenting and email notifications.
Basecamp is excellent at giving you an overview of the elements outstanding and the elements completed within a project. The communication tools within Basecamp are are also strong, with a simple to use interface and threaded comments, making it easy to use with both clients and internal teams.
The calendar helps you schedule tasks and events to keep everyone on the same page. If you are currently passing documents around via email Basecamp’s built-in document storage will save time and ensure assets are safely secured in one place. You are able to group and structure shared files into one easily-accessible library to serve the whole team.
- Works really well for client communication
- Stores all documents and files in a central library that can be accessed by the whole team
- The application works intuitively so is quick for people to pick up and learn
- The ‘calendar’ tab gives a good view of the project going forwards and the ‘progress’ tab gives a clear timeline of what has already been communicated or completed and when
- It can be limited once a project crosses a certain size (Basecamp is best for short/small projects without too many elements)
- If you are a freelancer using the software for client updates, the flat $99 fee per month can be expensive
Price: A flat fee of $99 per month.
Asana is the most complex project management app of the three, with detailed layers of customisation. While the software may take longer to learn, the wide range of functionality makes it a fully-comprehensive project management application, which should meet the demands of the most complex of projects or tasks. It is better suited to larger teams or more complex projects, rather than small teams working together or freelancers.
Asana has a focus on reporting and goals, with excellent visibility over project progress. The application integrates with (nearly) any other piece of software you are likely to be using on a daily basis, such as Dropbox, Slack, Gmail (and probably even Tesla if you wanted it to!)
The built-in templates mean you can build a project once and then re-use the project layout again, ensuring consistency and minimal set-up time. The pre-defined templates cover a range of different sectors such as marketing, design, IT, HR, operations and more, so are well-suited to a wide range of businesses.
Similarly to Trello, you can use boards, lists and cards to add tasks to a project, but Asana offers more. Within the app, you can plan events, write an editorial calendar, design product roadmaps, plan product sprints, create agendas, collaborate within teams and more.
Of the three apps here, Asana has the greatest level of control and customisation, although for some people this may present some unnecessary complexity.
- Integrates with almost every other third-party app you may use
- Great for managers needing to be in the loop on each element of a project
- Has a range of templates for different sectors or project types
- Easy to see tasks assigned to you in one place
- Integrates really well with email
- Complicated to learn, the large number of features can be overwhelming
- Requires time to set up, manage and regularly update to prevent the workspace feeling overloaded
- Individual tasks in a project can only be assigned to one person
- No integrated personal view
Price: Asana has Basic, Premium ($10 per user per month), Business ($20 per user per month), and Enterprise plans on offer.
Don’t forget you can use Zamzar for all your file conversion needs, helping projects to run quickly and smoothly!