Why we switched from Asana to Teamwork

teamwork(admin note: we’ve recently switched back to Asana, which you can read about here)

A few years ago we made a major switch from Nozbe to Asana for our internal task management. Asana was awesome, and I encourage you to check it out, but it couldn’t handle our needs as we continued to expand. Instead, we moved over to Teamwork.com a few months ago and couldn’t be happier.

Why not Basecamp?

In exploring our options, we kept coming up on Basecamp. It’s a solid product, for sure, but the deal-breaker was a lack of recurring tasks. Asana handles recurring tasks very well, as does Teamwork. While people have developed some scripts to help work around that shortcoming in Basecamp, that felt too clunky for something so important.

Start Dates

One of our issues was a lack of “start dates” in Asana. Having “due dates” is certainly needed, but a lack of start does was a big hole. It doesn’t do much good to have a task come up that says “Work on that big thing” and it’s due today; that needs to pop up weeks in advance to give you some notice.

Asana’s reasoning is that big tasks should always be broken into smaller pieces, which I agree with in theory (though not always in practice). Even then, though, some of those smaller tasks may take a few days. With Teamwork, I love that I can assign a task to someone that starts on Monday but isn’t due until Thursday, so they can plan accordingly.

Project Overviews

Having a list of tasks bundled together for each project is nice, but it’s ideal to have a project overview to go with the tasks. Perhaps some notes about the project, maybe a link to their test site, etc. Teamwork handles this much better than Asana.

In fact, when we left Asana they didn’t really have this at all! In the time since we’ve left them, they’ve added this feature in. It was a sorely lacking feature and I’m glad they include it now. I still feel that Teamwork handles it better, but Asana’s solution will be adequate for many people.

Task Templates

This is another feature that Asana has added in the time since we left, but it’s still half-baked. Task Templates allow you to set up a list of tasks that you’ll reuse over and over for different projects. We have templates for things such as “site launch checklist”, “SEO audits” and things of that nature. We covered it a bit more in-depth at our Meetup last December, and you can view those slides here.

Milestones

Another issue we had with Asana was dates. When we set up a project, we added dozens (if not hundreds) of tasks to it for the various steps along the way (this helps explain why task templates are so great). In Asana we would date all of the tasks according to our timeline and hope for the best. The problem was that if a project fell behind, we had to manually edit the rest of the tasks in the project. What a pain!

In Teamwork you can set up various task lists as “milestones” and apply a single date to each milestone. If things fall behind, you shift the date on one milestone and Teamwork will (optionally) push the others back by the same amount. It’s a huge time-saver and is a great way to keep us better organized.

Where Asana still wins

While we love Teamwork and have no plans to leave, there are three areas where Asana is a better solution:

  • Mobile apps: The Teamwork mobile apps are certainly solid, but the Asana mobile apps were very slick.
  • Task entry speed: Adding a task to teamwork requires that you create a project, go into it, create a task list, and then create the task. Not a big deal, but Asana was much better for jotting down quick tasks and getting to them as you had time.
  • Cost: While the cost for Teamwork is very fair (it starts at $12/mo; we’re now at $99/mo), Asana was free. You can’t beat free.

Which should you use?

That’s a tough call. If you’re looking for a great project/task management system, I think you should look closely at both Asana and Teamwork.

If you are curious to learn more about other digital tools we use, contact GreenMellen Media today!

What DO you use? Leave a comment below and tell us what you use and why you love (or hate) it. We’re always anxious to learn more, so feel free to share your thoughts.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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Comments

    • I still follow their blog and see what’s going — it was always a solid product and seems to be continuing to improve over the years.

      • After using ASANA for 3 months, now we have realized that we need a few more things which we need but cannot use it unless having an add-on such as: Gantt charts, Time tracking and adding dependencies and cost tracking. Now comparing with the other tools which are available Teamwork is the closest and has all the missing things mentioned above.

  1. Can anyone here comment on whether Asana or Teamwork allows you to specify task dependencies? Inynlimited exploration of Asana, it seemed you could only put in due dates. Thanks!

    • Teamwork does, in a few ways.

      1 — You can add “sub-tasks” to an item, which automatically makes the parent task dependent on the sub-tasks.
      2 — You can make any other task dependent on another, which is handy. When the dependency has been completed, it emails the owner of the primary task to let them know it’s available.

      • MIckey, gotcha. That sounds great. I’m basically looking for the basic Gaant building functionality of Microsoft Project without having to use Project, as I’m on a Mac, and I’m looking for a good online solution. Just a couple follow-up questions. Do you know if either Asana or Teamwork have a good off-line desktop app? One of the limitations I’ve seen with some of these web-based systems is that you can only do this sort of “planning” when you’re online. I find myself doing this often on planes or when I’m offline.

        Also, I’m assuming Asana doesn’t have that dependency functionality?

        • Good questions. Since we haven’t used Asana in a while, I can’t say for sure about it.

          As for offline, I think you’re correct. My philosophy is to simply always be online; I keep a mobile hotspot with me, pay for wifi on airlines, etc. I don’t think either one has a very good offline component.

          • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. Very helpful, and I’m definitely going to check out Teamwork.

  2. A great comparison! I’ve been looking at both Asana and Teamwork pretty in depth over the past month, both are great tools and I have a couple of observations that aren’t mentioned here. First off, I too thought the lack of start dates was an issue in Asana, until I realised that you can use a kanban-style approach – the killer feature in Asana is that tasks can pop up in multiple projects, so e.g. your “Q3” project holds the top-level view, and your “New Feature X” project holds that too plus other tasks. Together then with Instagannt (where you can add start dates and explicit dependecies if you really need them) you’ve got a very flexible system. It boils down to a question of workflow and comfort/suitability of a kanban-like approach. What Asana also does really well is gives you/everyone a quick and easy way of team members workload, which is something that Teamwork doesn’t do well at all. The Everhour integration for time tracking is great (Everhour is a sweet tool).

    On the flip side, Teamwork is more “obvious” – in that it has everything you expect and it’s clear where to find it. This is maybe less an issue for the PM, more an issue if you need to report to senior management, who may well find Teamwork more intuitive – I can see (though haven’t tested this!) that the Asana mix up of tasklist/kanban-ized sectioned lists is going to be more confusing to someone less “into it”.

    Bottom line, as you say, check out both!

  3. Hey Mickey,

    Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative blog post. We are in the exact same boat as you and trying to determine what is the best collaboration tool for our company.

    We are currently using Asana, but only a portion of our organization is using it religiously. We are taking the plunge and starting to onboard the entire company in July and this post is helping with our decision.

    Once again, really great post! Now that is how content marketing is supposed to work!

    Sincerely,
    @rsgmike

    • Mike — I’m glad it helped! I still keep an eye on what Teamwork is up to, and I’m anxious to see their new layout coming “soon”, but for now we’re still loving Asana.

  4. Hi Mickey,

    I’m confused here (and perhaps I missed something). The title of the post is “why we switch from Asana to Teamwork”, yet your last comment on June 16, 2016 states “I still keep an eye on Teamwork and I’m anxious to see their new layout, but for now we’re still loving Asana”.

    Are you back with Asana? If so, how come? What was the selling point to switch back again?

    Like the others, it’s really come down to these two (Wrike is also great, but too complex for us at this time) and if you’ve switched back again, I’d love to know why.

    Sincerely
    Matt

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