This post is a response to a FitSmallBusiness’ article by Jeremy Marsan titled “Best Project Management Software – Basecamp vs. Asana & Others“. His article compares Basecamp, Asana, Trello, and Insightly. It rarely points to any shortcomings of Basecamp, while pointing to several in the other apps. It ultimately rewards it the top spot as best project management app to Basecamp. This is my response to what appears to be a poorly researched piece.
Let me start by saying very clearly that I am a big fan of Basecamp’s founders, their business philosophies, and Basecamp as a company. Their excellent books Rework & Remote are both best-sellers that rank among my favorite business books of all time. Everyone should read them (especially Rework). I also used Basecamp in a small team for quite some time. Currently, we use Asana at Fiddler Online for all our task and project management, team collaboration and communication, and even as a simple support-ticket manager.
So with that background I was interested to read about both Bascamp and Asana and see how they stacked up against each other. As I read, it the evidence seemed to mount that either the author started with the foregone conclusion that Basecamp would win, and merely worked backward, or he had way more experience working with Basecamp than Asana, and so couldn’t give them a fair comparison, even if he intended to.
Here’s a few brief examples to illustrate what I mean. Speaking of the free tier on Asana, Marsan said:
You can have up to 15 users on the free version with unlimited projects, but like Trello, there’s no permission levels. You can’t control what users can view and edit.
That’s simply not true. There are permissions settings and you can control who can see what, to some extent. They’re just more robust and granular if you move to the paid tier.
Then later, he makes this strange statement:
Asana is designed like a desktop. There’s a series of windows you can open, close or switch between. Like Trello, the details of each project (i.e. latest updates, discussion box, attached files, etc.) are hidden until you click on a task. This keeps the layout simple when you first open it, but finding a specific file or discussion can be difficult.
This makes me think he didn’t use it much at all. It’s not designed like a desktop at all. In fact, other than the overall idea of a 3-pane layout, it’s not much like any software I’ve ever worked with before. The closest thing I’ve ever seen was Google Wave. Additionally, it has excellent search, is very easy to find things, and allows you to quickly link one task to another with @ mentions.
At another point, the article says the main benchmark is if each app can replace email. Asana’s stated mission is to do just that, and I know (and have helped) many people and companies largely replace email with Asana. So whether they think it’s good at replacing email or not, Asana is very good at it. The proof is in our company and many others that have all-but-replaced email with Asana.
This was just my brief response. There were a number of additional points like these three examples, where it seemed the author barely used Asana. And if he barely used it, how much did he use Trello or Insightly, before proclaiming Basecamp the champ?
At FiddlerStudios, we like Asana the best. It’s easy to learn, very quick to use, and facilitates communication and productivity in ways we’ve never experienced before. As much as we respect Basecamp as a company, Asana takes the cake when it comes to communicating, managing projects, and most importantly: getting things done.