Here at Echo, we're firm believers that technology is a tool – and that the most important part of your solution is getting a tool to work for you.
With so many different software options available, it can be a challenge to find the right tool for you, even before you begin to build out your solution. So we're putting our tech expertise to work by breaking down the major differences, similarities, and advantages of some of our favorite project management tools.
We're kicking off with two of the world's most popular choices for project management: Smartsheet and Asana. Both tools boast a large and diverse client base, and each software has the capacity to help teams and organizations streamline workflows and get visibility across projects. But which one is right for your work? Read on to see how these two tech giants stack up.
Meet the Tools
What is Smartsheet?
Founded in 2005, Smartsheet is a cloud-based work collaboration software powered by data. With a mission to create innovative work solutions, this company believes that great work experiences have the power to inspire, transform, and move the world forward.
What is Asana?
A cloud-based task and project management tool for teams, Asana prides itself on its simple, clean design and diverse features. The company was founded in 2008 by two former Facebook engineering leads. Since its conception, Asana has had a mission to power businesses by organizing work in one connected space.
The basic workspace is a spreadsheet like Excel or Google sheet, but there are alternative views to allow visibility across projects and teams. When working in a sheet, you can view the data as a Grid, Cards, Gantt Chart, and a calendar.
In addition to these views, Smartsheet has a lot of options for customizing columns. Creating columns with dropdown lists, check boxes, and other symbols are helpful for getting quick visibility within a basic sheet.
One of the main advantages of Asana is its clean, organized, and easy-to-navigate user experience. Each project has four view options: List, Board, Timeline, and Calendar
Asana also has capacity for customized columns, and utilizes color coordination and tags to get visibility on tasks and projects.
Key takeaway: Smartsheet and Asana have similar viewing options, but Asana's interface tends to be more intuitive to users. That being said, teams and organizations with a lot of experience using spreadsheets might prefer Smartsheet.
Smartsheet is a powerful tool for team collaboration and project management, primarily because of its extensive feature list. Smartsheet is highly customizable, so the options for creating a solution that works for your team is effectively infinite; you can organize and process project data in a sheet, create a workspace for stakeholder visibility, design custom workflows for automating approvals and ownership, and generate detailed reports on project health. And those are just a few of the features available within Smartsheet!
Asana has many of the same features as Smartsheet available, but the functionality of these features differs slightly. For example, Asana has dashboards and reporting options, but we have found those options to be less customizable than Smartsheet. Asana also has options for building workflows, automations, and approvals, though workflows tend to be more linear than Smartsheet.
This being said, Asana's feature of co-listing tasks to multiple projects is a game changer for team collaboration and portfolio management. Plus, Asana has an innate mechanism for creating repeatable tasks – one of the few features that's lacking in Smartsheet.
Key takeaway: Smartsheet and Asana have very similar features, albeit through their different and distinct interfaces. We've found Smartsheet's reporting and dashboard capabilities to be more robust than Asana's, so Smartsheet wins this category for us. However, if your team needs to track repeating tasks, Asana might be a better fit for you.
Both Smartsheet and Asana offer a wide variety of integrations with other software, so we're calling this category a tie. If you use additional tools to manage projects for data visibility, time tracking, team collaboration, or other essential functions, chances are both Asana and Smartsheet offer an integration for it.
A few of the integrations we find most popular in Smartsheet and Asana are: Jira, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Power BI, Outlook, Salesforce, and Dropbox.
Smartsheet does not have a free option, but interested users can give this tool a try during a free trial period. Once your trial is up, you can choose between the Pro ($7 per user per month), Business ($25 per user per month), or Enterprise (priced with consultation) subscription options.
Asana has a free option with limited features, which can be a great way to get a feel for the software. To really make the most of the tool, consider a Premium ($10.99 per user per month), Business ($24.99 per user per month) or Enterprise (priced with consultation) subscription.
Key takeaway: At the time of writing, Smartsheet and Asana pricing are almost identical with one key difference; Asana has a free option, while Smartsheet does not. For most organizations, we recommend purchasing a subscription of at least premium, but for some smaller teams looking to get started with project management, a free Asana account is a nice option.
When to Use
Smartsheet and Asana are both extremely powerful project management tools that could be used to fit almost any solution. Determining the best fit for your team or organization largely depends on the experience of your users, and what you need the tool to do.
For large teams looking to manage complex projects and portfolios, we can't recommend Smartsheet enough. We've been using it for our clients for years, and are continually inspired by its variety of features. We tailor solutions of all shapes and sizes with Smartsheet, and even use it within our own team!
For smaller teams looking to manage tasks and collaborative projects – particularly those that involve repeated tasks – Asana is a fantastic option. It's clean user interface is intuitive to use, and it requires less experience with spreadsheets, formulas, and data management.
What tools would you like to see us compare? Send us a note on our Contact Page!