Project Management

Asana vs Basecamp: Clash of the Titans

Published by in Project Management

Update 3/28/16: After a year and a half, both Asana and Basecamp have made substantial updates to their systems. This review reflects the latest updates as of today!

If you’re a project manager looking for new project management software, you’ve probably stumbled across the ongoing debate over what’s a better tool: Asana or Basecamp. Both are cream-of-the-crop software solutions, and project managers tend to have a (loud) preference for one or the other.

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Asana vs Basecamp

But let’s take a step back. Beyond the brand-name loyalty and status-quo bias, which project management software program is best?

The answer, of course, depends on what features you’re looking for.

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Pricing

I featured Asana in my previous post titled “The Top 6 Free and Open Source Project Management Software for Your Small Business.” Asana got high marks because it’s free to use for up to 15 people. After that, pricing increases based on the number of users, but holds at a steady $8.33 per member per month when billed annually.

Basecamp, on the other hand, varies its prices based on team functionality and storage (every plan comes with unlimited projects). The first project is always free. From there, Basecamp charges $29 for internal teams. If you want to include outside clients, the fee jumps to $79 a month. If you’re an enterprise business, you can get all of Basecamp’s features (including 2TB of storage, guaranteed uptime, and a personal manager/consultant for your account) for $3,000 a year.

However… price is never the only factor to consider.

Project Storage

Asana-Project-Calendar

Basecamp offers unlimited projects and users with 100GB of space for just $29 a month — that’s a dramatic drop from last year’s price of $150If your company needs more space, they offer a complete package of unlimited projects 500GB of space, and priority support for a flat fee of $3000 a year. Basecamp also adds, “You can buy as much extra storage as you need, whenever you need it, so you’ll never have to worry about running out of space.”

Asana, on the other hand, treats storage a little differently. “Asana doesn’t specialize in storage functionality, so instead offers integrations with cloud providers Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box,” said a company spokesperson. “For individual files uploaded to Asana, there’s a 100MB limit per individual attachment.”

To me, storage works very differently between the two systems–one’s local and through a single service whereas the other relies primarily on secondary applications. There is no clear winner–it all depends on your company’s workflow and storage preferences.

Functionality

Features-wise, Asana and Basecamp are largely similar. So let’s look at how they’re different instead.

Asana’s ultimate goal is to make collaboration easy. It’s loaded with features that make it easy for users to pull information from a bird’s-eye view so you always have the long-term deadlines and goals in mind. It also offers keyboard shortcuts—around 40!—which makes managing your tasks far more efficient.

They’ve also made massive communications improvements in their latest update. In the last version of this article, we noted that chat functionality was limited to individual tasks. The updated version now allows conversations across projects and other members of the team.

Additionally, Asana has added the feature to create tasks straight from conversations on their suite. Not unlike Slack, Asana’s chat features allow users to sort, filter, and unfollow conversations that no longer apply to them (like leaving a way-too-big Facebook conversation about something that is completely irrelevant to you).  

Basecamp, on the other hand, is extremely intuitive—reviewers have often compared its usability to Apple products.

Basecamp sends users a daily email to review what tasks were completed the prior day. If you want to review your project’s progress, you can pull a Marty McFly and go back in time by scrolling through the Daily Progress timeline. And Basecamp is always paying attention—it’ll automatically save your work as you type, so you never risk losing your work because of a crash.

Basecamp is easy to use, easy to learn, and keeps things simple.

I, personally, prefer Asana’s distinguishing features, though the differences between Asana and Basecamp are largely marginal. Both have fantastic calendar and collaboration tools and scale relatively easily (though one reviewer noted that Basecamp doesn’t service big projects as well as he would have liked and still lacks in reporting features).

And the Winner Is…

At the end of the day, Asana is my preference between the two. It’s not a ready to go kind of software, but I think once your team has it going, this project management solution has a greater ability to control, organize, and manage teams and assignments.

More?

Basecamp and Asana are two of the leading project management software solutions out there. Which one do you prefer in the Asana vs Basecamp debate? Why? Or is there a third offering that trumps both of these? Leave your answers and comments below!


Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

About the Author

Rachel Burger

Rachel Burger

Rachel is a former Capterra analyst who covered project management.

Comments

Comment by Janice kenny on

Can you recommend a project management app/software for a single user/client. I am the team. I juggle lots of projects timelines and deadlines. I’d like to find a really great app I can stick with. No collaboration but tsk prioritizing and subtasks etc. Ideally I’d like free for now but would appreciate any pay suggestions you have.

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Comment by Rachel Burger on

Hi Jennifer!

Good question. I think that Asana is still good for newbies, because while, yes, there are a ton of features, its simplistic design will immediately get you to the most important aspects of the app. Its more daunting features (like so many shortcut keys!) can be learned over time.

Consider Asana like Facebook: at its core, Facebook is a simple website. Share, write, post, like. However there are lots of extra features–like creating an event, saving videos, changing your ads, etc–that don’t ultimately affect your overall experience (though you do, over time, end up learning how to use them). If you can learn how to use FB, you can learn how to use Asana.

Thanks for the question–does this answer cover everything you’d like to know?
Rachel

Comment by Jennifer Oakley on

Hi, Rachel!
I want to try out one of these apps and because of your review I am thinking about Asana but I read another review (here it is: http://www.insidetheapp.com/asana-app-review/ ) and it says that “some users find it hard to use the app in the beginning, as it comes with many functions and features.” I am very bad with technologies and is this app a good choice for a newbie or should I try something else?
Thanks for your time,
Jennifer Oakley

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Comment by Adam Waller on

Kristen, Rachel & Others,

A quick note about Asana… With the free version you are limited to 15 people PER TEAM, but you can create unlimited teams. Our organization uses teams roughly corresponding to departments, and in this way we are able to have about a hundred active users working happily on the free version for the last couple years.

You can still share projects with people on other teams, and add as many followers as you want, so the 15 user limitation really hasn’t been an issue for us. If Asana forced us to pay for the full version, we would probably switch to BaseCamp rather than pay $10K per year. (We are a non-profit organization on a very limited IT budget)

Hope that helps!

– Adam

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Comment by Kristen Sorensen on

Hi Rachel –

I have a question about the pricing you list for Asana. Since they charge per member/per month, (based on the link you gave to their pricing page) 20 users would cost $125 each month and then 40 users would cost $333, not the $100/month you listed, correct?

I hope I’ve missed something because my org can’t afford the $300+ per month but I would LOVE to implement Asana for us.

Thanks!
Kristen

Comment by Sean on

I have used both and they are great solutions for small businesses but do not offer any customization. Many new software companies are customizing to specific resource scheduling needs. The main problem is integrating all the companies software into one scheduling bundle and that is where these 2 come short.

Check out Visual Planning.

Comment by Guillaume on

May i suggest you to have a look to the new “frenchy” collaborative platform https://gladys.com
Designed for projects, idea campaigns and collaborative inspiration. The new fastest way to collaborate online. Another step towards the future of work !

Comment by Gaganjit singh on

For me its Basecamp any day!

Basecamp uses a simple, visual interface to help individuals and team’s manage their shared and personal projects and tasks. Basecamp’s dashboard provides an overview of all your discussions, to-dos, files, text documents and events in a single glance. The best part of basecamp is that integrate additional tools as per your requirement. We have integrated the below tools:

i. For time tracking and accounting :
Accurate Time Tracking Software : Tracks time spent on Basecamp tasks and verifies work done with screenshots.

ii. File sharing, feedback and annotations:
http://www.framebench.com : Framebench is a cloud-based communication and feedback platform that acts as a central workplace where you can store and share your creative assets. The tool is developed to ease the workflow.

iii. Basecamp Invoicing and Bookkeeping : Invoice clients & track expenses. Painless accounting software w/ simple reports making you happier.

iv. Reporting, Charts, Planning:
Page on zapier.com…: Integrate Basecamp with dozens of your favorite productivity applications with this

Comment by Tom Bennett on

I’m interested in anyone’s opinion regarding Basecamp vs. Asana vs. some other alternative, based on our particular requirements. We use Basecamp currently and primarily for recurring, redundant “projects”. They are individual projects, but they’re really just lists of tasks/to-dos. We use templates to set up the projects and instantiate new instances of the templates regularly. What we are missing is the ability to set due dates on individual tasks based on the start date of the project. In other words, in the template we’d like to be able to say a certain task is due 7 days after the project starts. Or even better, say that the entire project is due on a certain date and the due dates for many of the tasks are automatically populated at certain days prior to the target completion date (e.g. 1 week before project due date or 2 days before project due date). Does anyone know how to do this in Basecamp and/or a system that does this better?

Comment by Brock Fleming on

Joe – what would you recommend as a project management tool?

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Comment by Jeff Nailen on

Nice article Rachel. I’ve tried both at two points in their development and much prefer Basecamp. It has a much cleaner and more intuitive interface using standard app and Internet interface standards, so you can just start and run with it which makes it not only easier for me to use, but more importantly for adoption, easier for my clients who just will not adopt something too cluttered and complicated.

Also, Basecamp’s pace of development is more rapid than Asana’s. Basecamp is constantly improving and adding features monthly and they are rolled out smoothly.

Basecamp’s underlying infrastructure is Ruby on Rails, so it’s solid, solid, solid. I’ve only needed tech support once, for some questions I had, and it was lightning fast.

It’s not free, but the price is so reasonable as to make it worth it. Great value.

Comment by Joe Cross on

I was surprised at the title of this article. As a 20+ year veteran of project management that has seen things transition from old waterfall techniques to modern Agile techniques, I can definitively say that neither Asana nor Basecamp are “project management” tools. They are great collaboration tools that have a smidge of scheduling features, but they don’t support any standards-based project management methodology (e.g. waterfall, Scrum, XP, SAFE, RUP, Prince). Don’t get me wrong, Asana and Basecamp are great for managing a group of people working on some action items, but it’s not accurate to call them project management tools.

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Comment by Evan Logan on

For me, the killer feature in Basecamp over Asana is the calendar feature that can show tasks or processes in a Gantt Chart-like view. I can setup a template project with phases that last X number of days and it will lay out a project timeline for me. Then I can monitor how many projects are active on any given date. I’ve never found any other service that had such a view.

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