gantt chart image of a project.
Credit: Adobe

Project management has progressed significantly from the days of Gantt charts, WBS elements, and complex software packages. If you’ve decided that cloud-based project management is the right direction for your company, you likely have Asana project management and monday.com project management on your radar. Both offer a strong set of features, robust integrations, and strong teaming features. However, there are subtle nuances to each tool.

Getting started with monday.com and Asana

Learning a complex new tool is always challenging, especially something like project management, where there are multiple ways to configure task structures, visualizations, and reporting. Asana and monday.com both provide free initial versions, with Asana offering a full-featured 30-day trial and monday.com offering a “perpetual” free license with limited functionality.

Aside from the pricing nuances, while both tools perform an introductory interview program to help guide a new user, monday.com project management’s interview process was a bit more detailed and culminated with a list of templates based on the user’s responses:

Asana focused more on configuring a task hierarchy and initial views and did not recommend templates to get the user off on the right foot.

After configuring your first template, each system integrates some basic training. Asana displays various tooltips detailing key features, while monday.com offers a Basic Training project template. The former would likely be more helpful for a new team member who was joining an already established project, while the latter was beneficial for someone configuring the tool for their team. monday.com’s Basic Training is a fully populated mini-project, so you can learn the tool by interacting with it.

SEE: Basecamp vs Asana: Project management software comparison (TechRepublic)

Managing daily tasks in monday.com vs. Asana

While it’s interesting to discuss dashboards, visualizations, and reporting, perhaps the most essential function of a project management tool is helping individual contributors and teams determine where they should be spending their time and tracking when that work is complete.

Asana offers a rich and highly configurable homepage for users, with helpful information on their assigned tasks and what’s coming soon. The page is designed around configurable widgets that the user can rearrange or remove.

While monday.com offers a My Work view, the interface prioritizes the Workspace, a robust set of tools oriented more towards managing the overall project than an individual’s task list. Which approach is more beneficial to your organization depends on how your teams use project management tools. If they’re comfortable working the tool and using it as their personal task list, Asana is more geared towards team members tracking work tied back to a larger project.

Teams with a strong manager who works the plan, monday.com focuses on projects may feel more comfortable.

SEE: ​​5 key resources to improve your project management (TechRepublic Premium)

Visualizations and interface

There are dozens of ways to manage project tasks and relationships, from complex multi-level Gantt charts to Kanban-style boards. Both tools support the primary visualizations you would expect, with card views for individual tasks that allow for files and media to be embedded and team members quickly added using @ notation.

This was another area where the tools approached a similar objective with slightly different philosophies. Asana focuses on simplified, attractive visualizations based on a board-style task display and a simplified Gantt chart for scheduling and dependency tracking.

monday.com was more robust in its initial configuration, using what are essentially nested lists to capture tasks and structure dependencies and a Gantt chart that fans of tools like Microsoft Project will immediately embrace. The various templates provide meaningful customizations to the core views, and it’s worth experimenting with these templates if the initial interface doesn’t quite meet your needs.

Both systems offered similar functionality. If your team is looking for slightly more capability than a tool like Trello or Todoist, they will likely feel at home in Asana. However, if your team is more sophisticated, Asana may feel too limiting, and monday.com will be more comfortable and productive.

Reporting and dashboards

Asana offers prebuilt, visually appealing charts with limited customization capabilities similar to its task management presentation. New charts are easy to create and configure, but advanced users might feel constrained.

If you’ve used other data visualization tools, monday.com’s interface will have you feeling more at home, with robust filters, grouping, and chart types.

Integrations and automations

Both Asana and monday.com offer robust integrations to familiar applications, ranging from collaboration tools like Slack and Teams to video conferencing and tech apps. Asana groups integrations and automations into its Workflow tool, which uses a basic flowchart-like metaphor to design forms, automations, and integrations to other tools.

monday.com uses a card-like interface that will be familiar to users of apps like If This Then That (IFTTT).

I created some basic integrations that sent notification emails for tasks or added and synced items to my Todoist app that I use to track my tasks. monday.com provides a set of automation templates for each integration, which is extremely helpful if for nothing else than to give some inspiration on what’s possible or potentially useful.

Choosing between monday.com and Asana

These tools are robust, highly configurable, and readily integrated with your existing applications. While they look pretty similar from a feature perspective, they take a nuanced approach to project management.

Suppose your team is maturing beyond simplified task lists and planning tools but doesn’t know a PMP from WBS. In that case, Asana hides much of the complexity of project management from the end-user and is more oriented to managing workloads and moderately complex programs.

monday.com, on the other hand, offers a robust set of templates, configurability, and tools that should be comfortable to experienced project managers or teams that are used to working with more complex projects. Both are extremely capable, but consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your project management software and let that guide your decision rather than looking at features.

Top Project Management Software Recommendations

1 Paper Street Scheduler

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Automate your work order scheduling in NetSuite! Paper Street Scheduler is equipped with drag-and-drop work order scheduling and scheduling individual operations across multiple work centers. Quickly and efficiently view the status of all your work orders across all work centers with color-coded visual cues that are configured by you.

Paper Street Scheduler can transform your scheduling and save thousands of labor hours per year through intuitive interfaces and best-in-class feature set.

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2 Microsoft Project

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Delivered through Microsoft’s Office 365, Project Online with Project Pro is capable of being utilized online from nearly any location on a variety of devices, as well as in a desktop environment. This project portfolio management software solution offers a variety of features and capabilities including work management, demand management, portfolio analytics, resource management, scheduling, financial management, collaboration, risk management, reporting, and business intelligence.

Learn more about Microsoft Project

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3 Clarity PPM

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Clarity is a Project and Portfolio management platform designed to help businesses efficiently manage products, services, people, and finances through a variety of features including task boards, score boards, financial analysis tools, and more. The platform is built to facilitate and maximize the delivery of projects and can speed up the company’s digital transformation with a drag-and-drop road-mapping tool. Users can build business initiatives and add budgets with just a few clicks.

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4 HoneyBook

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HoneyBook helps creative entrepreneurs and freelancers book more clients, manage projects, and get paid all in one place. With our business management software, you can automate your busy work and stay on top of all your to-dos, saving time and money so you can grow your business. It's like your own personal assistant. Small business owners and freelancers have used HoneyBook to increase their bookings and save time.

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5 Cornerstone

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Cornerstone is a configurable platform that offers organizations a fully integrated talent management suite designed to ensure that the business can recruit, train, and effectively manage all of their valuable human capital. Cornerstone OnDemand includes powerful functions for Applicant Tracking, Recruiting, Onboarding, Learning Management, Performance Reviews, Competency Management, Compensation Management, and Succession Planning.

Learn more about Cornerstone