Asana and Smartsheet have many of the same strengths, including vast customizability and an array of templates to help you get started. We looked at what makes each platform stand out among the competition and what may cause them to lag behind for some users.
Asana is a household name in project management, primarily because it’s easy for anyone to use. Still, it offers a deep, flexible platform with plenty of resources to get you going, like its template library. Try Asana’s free plan to get started.
Smartsheet streamlines workflows with advanced automations and tools to structure your project work processes. Plus, with enterprise-level security, you know your data will stay safe, no matter your industry. Try Smartsheet out for free for 30 days.
Asana and Smartsheet Compared to the Best Project Management Software
Asana and Smartsheet both earned spots on our list of the top project management software solutions, but they’re far from alone as quality options to choose from. If you’re looking for something a little different than what these two platforms can offer you, check out our Golden Eggs below.
Monday.com delivers comprehensive project management tools that make it an excellent choice for most businesses, and its quick onboarding lets you get started using it right away. Try its plans for free for 14 days.
Teamwork has invoicing tools and the capability to include clients, contractors, and other relevant external parties in your projects, making it ideal for client work. Get a 30-day free trial of Teamwork today.
Asana Compared to Smartsheet
First, let’s look at what benefits and ways to make your workflows easier each brand has in store when it comes to its core products. We’ll summarize the key highlights of each of Asana and Smartsheet, then take a deep dive into what each one excels at and lacks after this section.
Asana focuses completely on project management and has mastered the art of keeping things simple. Its dashboard view gives you a quick and clean rundown of your tasks—which you can further break down using subtasks—that is organized using tags, labels, lists, and groups.
With pre-built rules, you can automate aspects of your project workflow so team members can focus on their tasks at hand instead of hand-offs and notifications. Plus, Asana is great for admins in terms of both workload allocation and project oversight. See how much work each team member has and keep tabs on how the project progresses with goals and progress tracking.
With Asana, you’re also getting access to a good number of integrations to broaden the software’s capabilities, privacy controls to ensure that only relevant team members have access to projects, and communication tools like comments, notifications, messaging, and project and team conversations. The platform is flexible and robust enough to work for many departments within the same company.
According to its website, 90% of Fortune 100 companies use Smartsheet to manage their projects. This spreadsheet-based solution gives you a surprising number of tools, given that it’s based on one methodology.
Get all the project management essentials alongside advanced tools for communication and collaboration, including the ability to work together in a single document and set up dashboards for high project visibility, plus content reviewing and approvals. You’ll also get a generous allotment of monthly automation runs on any plan, which helps your team reduce delays by letting repetitive tasks happen on autopilot.
Smartsheet also sports resource management tools to track budget, time, and workloads, enhanced by its insights that guide you on prioritizing items and reducing bottlenecks. And, though a Smartsheet interface can get complex, you can easily find anything you need in the platform with its filters and formulas, which will take you straight to the information you’re looking for.
Asana vs. Smartsheet: Pros and Cons
We explored what makes Smartsheet and Asana work for so many businesses and what areas may present drawbacks for users. Below, follow along as we stack up their respective virtues and flaws side by side.
Where Asana Shines
Easy to get started: Asana’s ease of use and fast onboarding process make it one of the leading choices for project management software. It has plenty of resources to set you up quickly, then use the platform’s ability to add new tasks with just one click to swiftly go from an empty interface to a full accounting of your project or portfolio. Searching for members and assigning them to tasks is as easy as typing their names into a box.
Template library: Speaking of getting up and running quickly, Asana has 27 templates to help you set up, plan, and build common project types. Use prebuilt templates for marketing campaigns, daily meetings, new hire onboarding, and a whole lot more. Pick the one that matches your workflow, then customize the elements to fit your needs. Simple projects and meeting agendas can be set up in mere minutes when using an Asana template.
Granular customization: It might be surprising, but some popular PM platforms are remarkably stingy with your ability to customize dashboard or project elements. Asana is a massive exception. Label tasks, group them into sections, and create fields and milestones that can all be customized to your heart’s content. And project visualization is flexible, too, with timeline, list, board, and calendar views.
Comprehensive dashboards: Asana gives you a complete view of tasks on the main dashboard and displays information according to how you set it up for your team. Set up main interfaces that show who’s working on what and how fast the project is progressing, plus goals and scheduled meetings, all in one place. Individuals can set up their own dashboards that zoom in on project work that pertains to them and their teams. Asana makes it easy to gauge project health and priorities with just a quick glance.
Communication and collaboration: Asana’s many avenues of communication mean that your team won’t miss a beat whether they work together in the same office or remotely. Built-in team messaging reduces the need for third-party communication platforms and keeps interactions centralized in the place where other work is happening. Just like Slack, you can ping individuals, sets of users, or an entire team. And that’s not even including Asana’s notification system and task-level commenting, which can include file attachments, @ mentions, and more.
Where Asana Needs Improvement
Document collaboration: Many other project management solutions let you create and collaborate on documents within the software, but Asana doesn’t. You can create documents in Asana, but you can’t have multiple users editing them simultaneously. Given how many other things Asana prioritizes regarding team communication, it’s a bit disappointing that this helpful PM feature has been missed.
Can get pricey: Some businesses can get by just fine with Asana’s free plan, but anyone expecting to use Asana features like automations, advanced reporting, timeline view, or portfolio management will have to opt for a paid plan. The entry-level paid tier at $10.99 per user per month, with the top end running a heftier $24.99 per user per month. The good news is that Asana doesn’t have a user minimum, which many other solutions, including Smartsheet, do. Before subscribing, consider Asana’s free plan, which allows up to 15 users and has a wide variety of tools in its own right.
Limited automations: Asana has more than 70 rules for building automations to deploy in your workflows. That’s a decent number, but you’ll need to opt for one of the paid plans to utilize these. And, if you want to create custom rules, you’ll need to pony up for the most expensive plan. However, the good news is that Asana does not limit your monthly automation runs like Smartsheet and some other PM platforms.
Where Smartsheet Shines
Advanced automations: Smartsheet’s automation features are so advanced that they’ll probably take a minute for you to pick up and get the hang of them. Once you do, though, you’ll have some powerful time-saving tools on your hands. You can create custom rules to take care of everything from mundane tasks that reduce your team’s day-to-day workload to advanced chains of events to handle time-consuming in-platform actions for you. Fortunately, the automation builder’s drag-and-drop interface also makes it simpler to create elaborate sequences.
Numerous templates: Smartsheet boasts a dizzying array of over 350 templates to get you started on any project in a snap. The company has gone deep in considering who its potential user might be, and its shows with templates that cater to specific industries, PM methodologies, events, and campaigns. These make the process of implementing Smartsheet for your organization faster, which is especially helpful when your team may need a little extra time to learn the platform’s nuts and bolts.
Extensive reporting and analytics: Smartsheet lets you generate reports across projects and individual sheets to gather exactly the information you want in each report. KPIs and other analytical elements can be kept front and center in the user interface, with metrics always updated in real-time. And this software’s smart analytics can identify trends in your projects, spot bottlenecks, and give guidance on what you can do to maintain productivity.
Exceptional security: Smartsheet has more built-in security measures than you’d expect from a project management solution, allowing teams in highly regulated industries to utilize this platform without worry. Beyond user-side elements like two-factor authentication and single sign-on, the software also sports AES 256-bit encryption and HIPAA compliance, as well as ISO, ITAR, GDPR, FERPA, and SOC compliance for industries like healthcare, education, and quality management.
Where Smartsheet Needs Improvement
Steeper learning curve: While Smartsheet can do a lot for your team, it also takes a while to get through onboarding and reap the benefits. Since it’s a sheet and list PM platform first and foremost, its interface might take some getting used to for your team members who are more used to Kanban boards. The payoff is often worth it for organizations, but if you prioritize quick onboarding and a user-friendly UI, Smartsheet may not be your best choice.
Rigid project visualizations: Smartsheet lacks a lot of Agile PM features beyond Kanban boards. It’s not great out of the box at setting up sprints and milestones, for example. This may not be a huge drawback for everyone, but it will be for any team devoted to Agile methodology. However, if you’re simply coming from a Kanban board-oriented platform without the rest of the Agile project management elements, you may be able to get by with Smartsheet’s Gantt, grid, card, and calendar views.
Key features only available as add-ons: Smartsheet boasts a lot of features, but some we’d consider being basic elements of a PM platform are locked away as paid extras. Resource management is one prominent example, and the lack of built-in time tracking is surprising, considering it’s usually a given on other platforms like Asana.
The Last Word on Asana Compared to Smartsheet
Asana and Smartsheet are both widely used project management solutions with an impressive range of capabilities. Either can meet the needs of a broad range of business sizes and industries. But each also has some surprising or limiting omissions that can be key differentiators for shoppers of project management software.
Asana’s user base stretches from one-person solo operations to enterprise-grade Goliaths because of its outstanding flexibility in a user-friendly interface. Although it has good communication features, it lacks some important features like in-app document collaboration. Smartsheet provides a balance of structure and customizability through a spreadsheet-based platform bolstered by powerful automations. While it takes time to get your whole team going on it, it can be a serious asset to larger operations.
Want to know more about the wide world of project management software? Discover more information and solutions for managing your workflow and boosting team efficiency in our full post reviewing the best project management software.