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Project management responsibilities almost always constitute a challenge. That’s just one reason competing certifications — from CompTIA’s Project+ to the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional accreditations — address the role and its functions.

The project management software and processes professionals employ managing projects should assist, not complicate, endeavors, which is one reason Asana and Basecamp have become popular web-based solutions. But which of these two cloud-based project management applications is better?

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

Project managers require a platform that assists with tracking and administering various tasks, which include identifying dependencies and risks, drafting charters and work breakdown structures and completing PERT estimates. Fortunately, both Asana and Basecamp are capable project management solutions and include a variety of features and options; however, the cost structures are different and may prove the deciding factor in which platform an organization selects.

Asana vs. Basecamp: Price

Asana offers three versions: Basic, Premium and Business. There’s also a fourth version, Enterprise, which requires contacting sales to explore needs and pricing corresponding to more advanced administration and security features.

Asana provides project managers a capable cloud-based platform.
Asana provides project managers a capable cloud-based platform.

Basecamp offers two pricing models: Business and Personal.

Basecamp offers project managers a full-featured solution and flat-fee pricing.
Basecamp offers project managers a full-featured solution and flat-fee pricing.

Because even small- and medium-size businesses, as well as enterprise firms, typically require a complete suite of capabilities within a project management solution, comparing Asana Business and Basecamp Business is likely most appropriate. But first, let’s compare both offerings’ restricted versions.

Asana Basic

Asana Basic is a free option designed for people just getting started managing projects. The entry-level version provides unlimited tasks, projects, messages and activity logging, while unlimited storage is included but individual file sizes must be 100MB or less. The free option also permits collaborating with up to 15 members and includes list, board and calendar views, as well as support for assignees and due dates and the ability to generate project overviews and briefs. Compatible with iOS and Android mobile apps and Windows and Mac, the free Asana offering also proves compatible integrating basic data from other applications.

Basecamp Personal

Basecamp Personal, like Asana Basic, includes fundamental features. The free version is designed for students and freelancers. While it includes restrictions, the Personal iteration provides support for up to three projects, 20 users and 1GB of storage.

For project managers overseeing multiple initiatives and directing a number of team members, both platforms offer premium versions. These paid editions are typically a better fit, especially when coordinating multiple initiatives, managing various vendors and suppliers and providing stakeholders with schedule and process visibility.

Asana Premium

Asana Premium adds features more seasoned project managers typically require, including:

  • Timeline views
  • Workflow builder
  • Unlimited dashboards
  • Reporting across unlimited projects
  • Advanced search capabilities
  • The use of custom fields
  • Unlimited free guests
  • Forms
  • Rules
  • Start dates and times
  • Task templates
  • Milestones
  • Administrative console
  • Private teams and projects

Those private teams capabilities often prove necessary, such as for consulting firms and MSPs managing projects for multiple clients. With a compelling $10.99 per user per month fee when purchased annually, or $13.49 per user per month when billed monthly, Asana Premium will meet the needs of some small businesses and projects.

Asana Business

Asana’s Business subscription adds features larger organizations often require. For example, the $24.99 per user per month when purchased annually, or $30.49 per user per month when billed monthly, subscription includes:

  • Portfolios, which assist with monitoring and managing groups of projects via a dashboard displaying the various projects’ high-level status.
  • Goals, which connect company goals and the work that supports them within a single location to permit individual contributors to better understand how their roles drive the larger corporate mission.
  • Workload, which is a tool to gauge team workload, bandwidth and availability.

Other Asana Business features include a custom rules builder, forms branching and customization capabilities, approvals, proofing, the ability to lock custom fields and advanced integrations with third-party platforms, such as Salesforce and Microsoft Power BI. The approvals support, which assists confirming for the team the steps and stages requiring approval and when in the process those approvals are required, might justify the increased cost for consultancies, MSPs and others managing initiatives for multiple clients.

Basecamp Business

Basecamp Business is similar. The paid Basecamp version extends more robust features than its free counterpart and is intended for more complex, formally run projects and initiatives.

For example, the $99 per month Business subscription, for which a 30-day credit card-free trial is available, adds unlimited projects, users and clients. The paid version also expands storage capacity to 500GB, while adding a Company HQ feature and support for team projects. Basecamp Business also includes project templates to assist minimizing time required to getting started and advanced client access providing more granular control over the information and data available to clients. Priority support is yet another feature of the premium offering.

Asana vs. Basecamp: Software features

Asana’s free version

  • Unlimited projects
  • Unlimited messages
  • Unlimited activity log
  • Unlimited file storage, although there is a 100MB per individual file limit
  • Collaboration with up to 15 team participants
  • To-do list views
  • Board views
  • Calendar views
  • Assignees
  • Due dates
  • Project overviews
  • Project briefs
  • Basic integrated app support

Asana Premium

  • Timeline
  • Workflow builder
  • Unlimited dashboards
  • Reporting across unlimited projects
  • Advanced search
  • Custom fields
  • Unlimited free guests
  • Forms
  • Rules
  • Start dates and times
  • Task templates
  • Milestones
  • Admin console
  • Private teams and projects

Asana Business

  • Portfolios
  • Goals
  • Workload
  • Custom rules builder
  • Forms branching and customization
  • Approvals
  • Proofing
  • Lock custom fields
  • Advanced integrations

Basecamp’s free version

  • Support for three projects
  • Support for 20 users
  • Message board
  • To-dos
  • Docs and files storage with 1GB of capacity
  • Campfire team chat
  • Schedule
  • Project activity tracking
  • Automatic check-ins

Basecamp Business

  • Unlimited projects
  • Unlimited users
  • Unlimited clients
  • 500GB centralized file storage
  • Dedicated Company HQ space
  • Team projects
  • Administrative control over the information clients can access
  • Project templates
  • Priority support

Both platforms work well and reliably. Close readers will note the features descriptions reveal similar functionality, although some common elements are sometimes referred to by either provider using different vocabulary. Regardless, both options provide a wealth of capabilities.

Basecamp’s scheduling features permit viewing events monthly or by day by just clicking upon the respective calendar elements. Tasks assigned to you appear within Basecamp’s Assignment pane, as do activities (access rights granted, new projects created, tasks assigned, manager information and tasks (both awaiting and completed). Basecamp’s new Lineup feature, meanwhile, permits viewing work in process, which team members are working on what tasks and project dates. Visual timelines also assist understanding Lineup details at a glance within Basecamp, whose My Stuff view collects all the assignments, bookmarks, scheduled items, drafts, activities and boosts (informal notes for sharing personality and encouragement between coworkers) associated with your Basecamp account. Pings, meanwhile, is where Basecamp stores all the private chats team members have with one another.

Similarly, Asana’s Calendar view, accessed from within a user account’s My Tasks console, presents the choice of a week or month view. Tasks, though, are listed as tasks within Asana, as opposed to to-dos, as in Basecamp. Asana’s Inbox collects messages and information associated with a project, whereas Basecamp Message Board and Campfire sections approximate such functionality.

As for collaboration, Asana and Basecamp both support and encourage team interaction. Asana’s Inbox, assignment capabilities, scheduling features and file-sharing facility all assist teams in working independently but collaboratively on projects from a variety of locations. Basecamp’s Message Board, Campfire, Pings, Activities, scheduling and document and file sharing features extend the same capabilities.

Within each specific project, Basecamp collects tiles for accessing message boards, to-dos, files, and schedules. Basecamp also includes a tile within each project titled Campfire, where group chats and other shared information reside. Using Asana, projects are displayed using either list or board views, both of which are also accessible from within a user’s My Tasks view. In Asana, individual projects are also listed within the user’s Workspace pane that appears within the left-hand navigation menu.

New projects are easy to create using both solutions. In Asana users need only click the “Create a project” link present within the left-hand nav menu. Using Basecamp, managers simply click the “Add another project or team” button found on the solution’s homepage.

The Asana Workspace collects the projects, messages and calendar information associated with a user’s account. When working within Basecamp, the home page collects all a user’s projects, teams, schedule and assignments.

Once a project is started and broader team activities begin, teammates assisting on the same project are referred to as collaborators (such as within its home page view) and as people within Asana. Basecamp, which refers to projects almost interchangeably as teams, sticks with “people.”

Both Asana and Basecamp include a portfolios view, where key initiatives, workloads and team capacities can be monitored. Both platforms also include a goals view, which permits tracking progress toward project milestones and objectives, and the two project management platforms assist reporting, as well. Asana users compile reports using the solution’s Reporting engine, while Basecamp users leverage the tool’s Activity feature to generate reports, such as for all the latest activity associated with a project, a specific user’s activity, assignments, to-dos and even upcoming dates and deadlines.

With both platforms offering mobile apps (Basecamp also offers Windows and Mac desktop programs), messaging, task lists, schedules, file storage and third-party application integration, pricing models are a primary differentiator. Organizations that can get by without Asana’s Business subscription and which elect the Premium version instead can pay as low as $10.99 per user per month. But with a fixed $99 per month fee, total, for a team, Basecamp Business becomes a better value for project teams with as few as nine team members.

SEE: Task management vs. project management: Which is best for your team? (TechRepublic)

Consider, too, Basecamp Business includes all Basecamp features and no restrictions, while Asana Premium lacks its sibling Business’ advanced features—including approvals, custom rules buildings, forms customization and advanced third-party application integrations. Thus, a better feature-to-feature comparison may well be Asana Business versus Basecamp Business, in which Basecamp Business’ monthly fee of just under one-hundred dollars becomes an advantage whenever any project teams using Asana Business must support more than four team members.

Asana vs. Basecamp: Which project management software should you choose?

While not every person who works a project necessarily requires access to the underlying project management software administering the initiative, many project managers prefer various employees, subcontractors and even clients have visibility to certain information. For this reason, the fact Basecamp offers a fixed rate simplifies what’s becoming a significant issue for firms operating in an ever-turbulent inflationary environment: cost control. Being able to deploy a centralized, cloud-based platform whose rates don’t change as projects, subcontractors, consultants and suppliers are added removes a worry, provides assurance and permits project managers to move on to addressing the myriad responsibilities their projects entail.