Asana vs Jira

July 18, 2019

1:45 pm

Asana and Jira are two popular platforms that each take a different approach to project management. Asana is a good option for general project management, and is used by organizations such as Google, Twitter, Slack, Harvard University, and Vice. Jira, meanwhile, is a top choice for IT departments and software development shops.

Anyone looking for more of an all-around project management solution would do well to choose Asana. It offers the fundamental features most people expect from project management software, and is well built for mobile as well as the web. It comes with a card-and-board interface, as well as straightforward task lists, a built-in timeline view, portfolios, and a calendar view.

Meanwhile, Jira – in its barebones state – is easy to understand and simple to use. This is why some companies that aren't involved in software development prefer to use it. It comes with a similar interface to Asana, as well as an established mobile app.

In this Guide:

Asana vs Jira – Which is Best?

While both Asana and Jira are capable project management platforms, Asana is the better option in most scenarios, with the all-important exception of software or web development teams, who should definitely stick with Jira. For more general project management scenarios, Asana is a great choice, and it has a free tier that's ideal for personal projects, and can be used for up to 15 people, too.

  • Asana is the best choice for small teams
  • Asana is the best choice for large teams
  • Jira is the best choice for software or web development teams
  • Jira is the best choice for small teams on a tight budget
  • Asana is the best choice for individual projects

That's our quick rundown of reasons to choose Asana or Jira. But before you make your mind up, let us guide you through each of these project management software brands in a little more detail, below.

Jira Review Summary

  • No free version available
  • Meant for software project development
  • Great cloud pricing for small teams of up to 10
  • Large third-party catalog of add-ons

Developed by Atlassian, the main appeal of Jira is its simplicity. Each task is represented by a card, with these cards then placed under different categories – To Do, In Progress, and Done.  Jira's task cards support task titles, descriptions, attachments, checklists, linking between cards, and linking to Confluence Pages (documents).

If that's all you need, then Jira's project management solution is an excellent choice. However, if you need items such as calendar integrations, Gantt charts, or other common project management tools, then you’ll need to look at Jira's add-on catalog. Jira supports close to 2,000 third-party app integrations, where you can customize Jira to include the project management tools you need – often at an additional cost.

Jira's basic service is also paired with Confluence, which adds document creation for keeping meeting notes, marketing plans, blog posts, and anything else you might need a document for. Confluence documents also support features such as “at mentions”, for keeping team members informed when something requires their attention. In addition to the add-ons for Jira, there are around 874 third-party integrations for Confluence.

Asana Review Summary

Asana My DashboardOne of the most appealing aspects of Asana is how distinctly modern it feels. The interface is very easy to read and understand, which is particularly helpful once you start loading up Asana with tasks for each team member.

Individual tasks support attachments, sub-tasks, dependencies, and tags. Team members can also mark certain tasks as milestones, and use Asana's Portfolios feature to track the status of each project.

Asana supports all sorts of features, but what you get depends on how much you pay. One downside of the platform is that many important features are locked behind higher pricing tiers – milestones, task dependencies and timelines, for example, are restricted to the Premium tier ($10 per user, per month). For Portfolios, meanwhile, you’ll need the Business tier.

The Portfolios feature is nice, but not necessarily a must-have. Milestones and dependencies, however, are key components for managing an effective project.  That means choosing one of Asana's paid services is often preferable. Still, if you need a free service, Asana is fairly capable – it offers task basics, board and calendar views, assignees and due dates, and the ability to collaborate with up to 15 teammates.

Best for Small Teams – Asana

For small teams that need to get up and running without much fanfare, Asana is a great choice. It has some good basics, as we detailed above, while dependencies and milestones will set you back $9.99 per user, per month. That's about average pricing for project management software. The first paid tier also comes with reports, custom templates, and the ability to create private teams and projects.

Asana offers multiple views depending on what your team requires. If you need the Kanban-style card-and-board interface, that's available to all users from the minute they login. For those who'd rather have a list of tasks and mark them as they go, then the list view will suit. There's also a calendar view to get an overview of the project.

Asana doesn't have its own time tracking feature, but integrates with the time tracking service Harvest by default. For those who need it, Harvest can be enabled in the workspace settings.

Best for Large Teams – Asana

Asana doesn't just serve small teams well – it's also a great option for larger ones. Asana's enterprise tier includes several key features that larger companies need, such as SAML, user provisioning, and custom branding.

If the Enterprise tier is too expensive for your large team, the Business tier may suffice. Asana Business boasts Portfolios (to get a top level view of ongoing projects), as well as support for forms and proofing.

Asana also provides communication features, such as comments and “at mentions.” There's also Slack integration for receiving notifications about tasks, and for taking actions inside said notifications (such as changing assignees or due dates).

Slack is just one of many key business software integrations that Asana supports. There's also Dropbox support for attaching files to tasks, while Microsoft Office 365 lets you receive notifications in Microsoft Groups. Asana also supports integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, Box, Google Drive, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, One Drive, and Salesforce.

Best for Teams on a Tight Budget – Jira

Jira Project ManagementWhile we prefer Asana as the top choice between the two, Jira does have one thing going for it that Asana can't compete with – rock bottom pricing. For those with a small team under 10 members, Jira will charge $10 per month flat for Jira Core, Jira Software, and Confluence.

That's $10 total, every month, for the full experience. Compare that to Asana, where a number of key features require at least a $9.99 per user, per month commitment. If you had a full 10-member team, for example, that would mean Asana would cost at least 10 times more than Jira.

Money isn't everything, of course – but when Asana's free tier won't do, Jira deserves a hard look at such an affordable price.

Best for Individual Projects – Asana

While this rule doesn't always hold true, many individual freelancers have relatively simple needs for staying organized. They usually know what's going on and what needs to be done, but having a project management solution makes it easier to stay on track.

Asana's free tier is ideal for people in this situation. It has multiple views, and creating tasks and adding attachments when necessary is easy enough. Every now and then, freelancers also need to bring on colleagues or clients to work together, which is where Asana's 15-person team limit comes in handy.

Asana works on the web, but there are also very good mobile apps to keep track of everything. It would be nice if free users had the timeline view, but when you're not paying, you can't expect everything.

Asana vs Jira: The Verdict

Overall, Asana is the best choice project management software for most people. It offers multiple views, and all the basics you need for creating tasks.

If you need the Timeline feature, milestones, and task dependencies, then it'll cost you, but Asana's pricing at the Premium tier is nothing out of the ordinary. It would be nicer if there was a clear explanation of all available discounts – which Atlassian offers for Jira – but Asana is still pretty useful for smaller teams or individual projects.

When it comes to the interface and ease of use, there's no question in our mind that Asana is the best choice. The main exception would be for those who work in software or web development.

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Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has worked as a technology industry reporter and critic for more than ten years. He’s written for PCWorld, Macworld, TechHive, Yahoo, Lifewire, and The Huffington Post. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, security software, and browsers.