Asana and Basecamp are two of the most interesting names you'll encounter when looking at project management software. Both systems have proven popular in recent years, although each has its own distinct approach. This can make it difficult to choose between the two.
When it comes down to it, we'd recommend Asana – it offers standard pricing, and a good number of features to satisfy most teams. However, there certainly are situations where choosing Basecamp makes more sense.
Looking at the two offerings, it doesn't take long to notice the differences. First you have Asana, with its timeline features, portfolios, tasks and milestones, and strong supply of third-party integrations. It's all pretty standard project management stuff, wrapped up in a modern web-friendly interface.
Then there's Basecamp, which looks nothing like other task management services. Instead of timelines or Gantt charts, Basecamp supports Hill charts – a visual, at-a-glance overview of a project's progress that divides work into two general phases, represented by going up and down a hill.
The biggest difference between Basecamp and other services, however, is that it uses a tiled interface, rather than lists, left-hand navigation, or a spreadsheet-like interface. This tiled interface is simple to use, and makes it easy to get an overview of your project responsibilities – although it does take some getting used to.
While Asana is our top pick overall, there are circumstances where Basecamp may be a better fit. If you have a large team, but aren’t a fan of per-seat pricing, then Basecamp is a great choice. Also, if you need a built-in chat feature inside your project management service, then Basecamp has just what you’re looking for.
- Basecamp is best for small teams, or large teams on a budget, thanks to its flat fee pricing
- Asana is best for personal projects, since it supports a free tier
- Asana is best for enterprises, with more customizations and required features
- Basecamp is best for those who want built-in team chat
- No free version, opting for a single flat fee instead
- Check-ins make for an interesting way to keep the team focused
- In-app chat
Basecamp boils down to six basic sections for each project: Campfire, Messages, To-dos, Schedules, Automatic Check-ins, and Docs & Files. It's simple, with all features available to all users without tiered pricing. Basecamp charges a flat $99 per month for access to the entire product. That means key features aren't hidden behind upper tiers, although the downside is there isn't any flexibility in pricing.
Campfire is the real-time chat area, which Basecamp envisions as a place for your team to talk casually and brainstorm ideas. When it's time to talk about issues within the project, that's when Basecamp suggests you turn to the message board. This is a team forum where you can have discussions pertinent to the project, with each discussion title indicating the issue followed by standard forum replies. Since it's forum style, subjects are easier to parse, and finding key information is much easier than parsing old chat logs.
The To-dos section is where you put tasks and checklists, although Basecamp does not support sub-tasks or dependencies. The Schedules section is basically an agenda view with due dates coming up, while Docs & Files is pretty self explanatory. Lastly, Check-Ins allows you to poll the team with questions about their project progress, or any other issues you like.
Overall, Basecamp is a good product, but its pricing may not sit well with some. Its interface and approach to project management are also very different from others, which may cause issues.
- Great price, especially for medium-sized teams
- Simple interface with quick learning curve
- Communication and transparency driven platform
- Limited customizability
- Few customer support options
- Not great for enterprise organizations
- Good, modern interface design
- Offers a free tier for those with simpler needs
- Good number of third-party integrations
- Portfolios (available for higher priced tiers) gives a good overview of each project
Asana looks great, and can adapt to suit your style of working. By default, it uses a straight list for your tasks, but it also has a board view if that’s what you'd prefer.
Tasks can support attachments, sub-tasks, and dependencies, as well as tags for organization. You can also mark some tasks as milestones. There is a timeline view that shows the workflow for a project, complete with tasks, dependencies, responsible team members, and deadlines. Asana really did a great job of making its timeline easy to read, despite being packed with a wealth of information.
The issue with Asana, as we've noted before, is that key features are kept behind certain pricing tiers. You can access many of them with the Premium tier, which is $10 per user, per month. This gets you the Timeline, task dependencies, and milestones. If you want Portfolios, that requires a higher investment of $20 per user, per month, but also adds proofing, forms, and the ability to lock custom fields.
- Plenty of third party integrations
- Incredible clean and intuitive interface
- Free options available
- Most key features require Premium plan
- High prices for larger teams
- Limited customizability
If your small team has around 10 members, this would make Basecamp about equal to paying Asana's premium price. Unlike Asana, however, you get full access to all of Basecamp's features. Basecamp may not have timelines or task dependencies, but if you can stand those losses, then it’s is a great choice.
It does have built-in chat, which is great for small teams that don't already have a solution such as HipChat or Slack. The other advantage of Basecamp is that its design and approach to project management are easy to comprehend, meaning onboarding should be easier for smaller teams.
Basecamp's Check-ins are also a great tool to keep the team focused, especially if everyone is working remotely.
If you have a team of fewer than 10, or want something that offers standard task features such as dependencies, sub-tasks, and milestones, then Asana Premium is the better choice.
Asana has a free tier, making it the ideal choice for managing individual projects or a side hustle. Basecamp, meanwhile, costs $99 per month. That's a lot of money for freelancers, which would be better spent elsewhere in most cases.
Asana's free tier is very simple, with tasks, list and board views, calendar view, due dates, and the ability to collaborate with up to 15 teammates. You won't find task dependencies, sub-tasks, or milestones at this tier with Asana, but then again, you won't find dependencies or sub-tasks at all on Basecamp.
The ability to collaborate with others even at the free tier is a nice feature for those times you need to be part of a team. Basecamp has this feature as well, with links you can share with others, but again there's that pesky cost of $99 per month.
Overall, we like Asana for larger teams – but if you can't spend a lot on project management, then Basecamp is a good choice. Its flat fee of $99 per month equals about 10 users on Asana Premium. That makes Basecamp a steal for a team of 15 or more.
Basecamp doesn't have some of the customization, support, and other enterprise features that larger teams might enjoy, but when money is tight, it's a solid choice. Some features (such as SAML) can be made up with third-party integrations, but don’t come as a native part of Basecamp.
Larger teams can benefit from Hill charts, which give you a sense of how the project is developing and where it needs to go – although these charts aren't as exact as Asana's Timeline. There's also an email forwarding feature to add important emails to your project. If you need to share a project with people outside of your team, Basecamp also allows you to create public links that non-team members can use to see project materials.
While Basecamp can be made to work for large teams, Asana is the service that can be tailored to the needs of larger organizations. It supports SAML, user provisioning, data export and deletion, the ability to block native integrations, custom branding, and priority support.
These are all key features that would require third-party integrations or workarounds to achieve on Basecamp. Others, such as priority support, aren't possible since Basecamp only provides email support. This is intentional – Basecamp doesn't want to be beholden to larger customers, which is why there's no per seat pricing or tiers.
Asana's Tasks feature supports milestones, sub-tasks, and dependencies. The Portfolios feature (available with the Business tiers and higher) will help larger teams get an overview of all ongoing projects, while there are other helpful features, such as forms and proofing.
Asana is a great choice for larger teams and enterprises that can afford to spend the money on the service, and want some degree of control and customization.
It's often difficult to judge two services that are so different. Basecamp's simpler approach may appeal to one set of teams, while the more uniform, complex version of Asana is preferred by others.
Nevertheless, overall we believe Asana to be the best choice for most companies. It has the features you'd expect from project management software, and most of these features are available at the first paid tier.
If you like simplicity, Basecamp is a great choice. However, we believe most people will feel more satisfied with Asana.
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