Trello v Asana: An entrepreneur’s review

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Cat Mules

In our various efforts to organise our working lives, digital applications are no longer an optional add-on, they are must-haves for successful, timely project management.

There are a wide range of digital project management applications available, each offering numerous sub-integrations and applications. Picking through the range of options, and deciding which one to commit to, is challenging.

Trello and Asana are two well known project management applications. They are both highly regarded, widely used applications that are focused on business efficiency and high productivity.

Sources: Trello; Asana.

Their development stories

When ex Google and Facebook developers, Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein  formed Asana in 2008, their aim was to counter the time wasted on “work about work” – unproductive meetings and email overload. They sought to overcome the inertia associated with traditional ways of doing things – and share the successes they had experienced in improving their own team’s missions.

Trello is a creation from Fog Creek Software from founders Joel Spolsky and Michael Pryor. It became its own company in 2014, and was then sold to Atlassian in 2014. Trello is aimed at a horizontal market – anyone from the salesperson of a marketing team, to real estate brokers and their clients, can use it.

Getting started

Both Asana and Trello are designed to be highly accessible to new users – each with easy sign-ups, free try-before-you-buy experiences and powerful UX functionality.

Asana’s view can easily be changed between list, calendar, dashboard and long-term project formats – equipping the user with easy ability to switch between different views depending on different thinking styles. Asana has a colour-coded visual aspect that makes it easy to keep track of many tasks simultaneously.

Trello is built around the concept of boards (projects) and cards – groupings of the tasks you need to do. These are organised into cards – or containers. Colleagues can be invited into certain co-working spaces and assigned tasks to each other, progress can be tracked. Its drag-and-drop mechanisms are simple to use and intuitive,  once you’re used to using them.

Sharing ideas

Both Asana and  Trello are excellent tools for group collaboration. Each online collaboration app integrates with other group chat software and a host of productivity tools. Both apps are centred on building and running a well-structured task list that can be shared with others for collaboration.

Project managers look for tools that are easy to set-up within their established team ecosystem. Both Trello and Asana have long integration lists, including the usual influential integrations like Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, MailChimp and Slack. Trellos is longer – but arguably only because it offers a greater array of adding and ways to level-up particular features.

Each offers a range of keyboard shortcuts  – Asana, Trello – to streamline the experience.

Asana works well for process-driven people, such as for a product team or communications department, broken down into specific tasks.

Trello makes it easier to set up a repeatable project. Its timeline feature includes a Gantt chart to enable managers to track the progress of projects. Team members are given a clear list of preferences within sub boards, and able to be either tagged as a shout-out or assigned responsibility.

Getting it done

Getting closure on a project is important. Equally, its key to be able to reflect upon and apply learnings around what worked and what didn’t work.

Archiving abilities differ between Trello and Asana. On Trello, as every task is completed it can be archived, and the templated sub-boards can be applied to the next project. The precise task related units within Asana make a detailed project almost impossible to repeat, so you’d be best advised to create your own templates or go off what’s already on offer.

Nimble New Zealand businesses want tools that enable them to act quickly, and be savvy, but that themselves are part of the background and focused on enabling. The need for thinking is replaced by acting – you can integrate and change the tools as you go.

While what works will be depend on the business context, and differ in terms of the parameters of the specific context, there is no doubt that the tools we choose do matter. Amid the hype around project management applications, what really counts for time challenged project workers and entrepreneurs is what works: what will help get the job done in the easiest, most effective way?

Stay up-to-date with the Umbrellar Connect community as we explore the ins-and-outs of what works in our fast-changing technology marketplace.

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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

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