Project management tools: Asana vs Trello vs Monday.com
You’ve decided you need a little help organizing your freelance work. Maybe you are having trouble meeting deadlines, or feel like you could be making better use of your time. You’re in luck! There are lots of great project management software solutions out there to help you boost your productivity...almost too many! How can you make sure you choose the one that is best for your needs? Asana, Trello, and Monday.com are three of the most popular choices for freelancers, but each has a unique approach. Let’s take a look to see which fits you best.
Asana–Lots of lists get the job done
Asana has the most traditional project management system. It organizes tasks around projects.
With Asana you separate a project into lists of different tasks. These tasks list what must be done to complete them, including, you guessed it, a list of subtasks. You can also adjust your lists so you only see what tasks you want to see, such as the tasks that are due to be completed soon, or the tasks you have already completed.
In addition to all these lists, you can see the project in multiple views. The calendar and timeline let you see what you need to be doing today and two weeks from now, as well as identify potential bottlenecks where tasks overlap. You can also create a board which visually displays the tasks you still need to do, and which are in progress.
Streamlining your processes
One of Asana’s great features is its ability to streamline your processes and cut down on time wasted doing common tasks. You can create customized rules to automate tasks, such as staffing work and establishing deadlines. There are also more than 50 templates to choose from to help you create the ideal project management process and save yourself some valuable time.
Asana is also great if you are working with a team. There is a centralized dashboard to communicate with your team, and the workload function can keep track of every team member's capacity. That can help you ensure no one is being overloaded while leaving other team members with nothing to do.
Trello – Welcome to Kanban
While Asana does offer a visual board to display tasks, Trello is literally based on that method, called Kanban. It’s a Japanese workflow management system that emphasizes the importance of visualizing your work to find ways to become more efficient and create better outcomes.
With Trello, you can create virtual boards, and then add any tasks you need to get done. It’s built to work like a physical whiteboard where you add tasks on sticky notes and place them on the board.
Each Trello task card can be loaded with information that you (or your team) needs to do the task. This can come in the form of checklists, due dates, attachments, and photos. There is also a spot to add comments, that way you can discuss important topics right there in the card and save the time of connecting somewhere else. There is also a notification system that updates team members if their task gets updated or changed.
Create your own boards
You can set up your cards on your board however you like. For example, you can create categories: Still To Do, Working On, and Finished, and then simply move task cards fas needed as you make headway through your project. At one glance you can see what tasks needs to be done, who is working on a task, and what has been completed.
There are also Power-Ups available so you can access more features and apply them to your boards, including the Calendar Power-Up. Any card with a due date appears in the calendar, helping you keep track of when different parts of your project need to be completed.
Monday.com–On the “pulse”
Like Trello, Monday.com uses a visual board system to display every task you need to undertake to complete your project. They call these tasks “pulses,” and each has their own status column filled with progress indicators that you can customize to track your efforts.
You have the option to create your board, or take advantage of one of the 200 ready-to-use templates for your workflow. You can further customize boards by adding more than 30 types of columns where you can do things like assign tasks, prioritize projects and resources, establish timelines and dependencies, and control how work gets done.
Room for many views
One of the major advantages of Monday.com is the ability to quickly see several different views of your project. All you need to do is select a view from the drop-down menu and you can instantly see your tasks organized by Timeline or Gantt chart to identify deadlines and dependencies, by Calendar to see tasks due over periods of time, and many more useful views. There is even a Kanban board like Trello, where you move task cards from column to column to show your progress.
Monday.com also offers easy-to-use reporting and financial management automations. Columns with mathematical functions allow you to perform different calculations just like you would on an Excel spreadsheet.
How do their prices compare?
Price should never be your only consideration when choosing project management software, but it’s always a good idea to compare costs so you know exactly what you are getting for your investment. Check out the prices of these softwares and see whether your freelance rates will cover the monthly subscription costs.
If you have 15 team members or less, Asana is free. It has the basic features a freelancer requires to manage most relatively straightforward projects. If you are part of a larger team, or are working on a complex project where you need automation and other Asana features, you’ll need the Premium plan.
That will cost you a monthly fee of $10.99 per person if you subscribe for a year. It’s $13.49 if you pay month to month. The next level up is the Business plan, which is good for companies managing cross-functional teams. It costs a monthly fee of $24.99 per person. Large teams can contact Asana directly for customized Enterprise pricing.
Trello is free for an unlimited amount of people. The only catch is, if you want to work with more than 10 boards, or use special features like email support, you need to pay $10.00 per user per month for an annual Business Class plan. That monthly fee rises to $12.50 for each person if you would rather pay month to month. Enterprise pricing is also available for large teams.
Monday.com’s pricing is more complex. While it’s free to start, that’s only for two people. You can use an unlimited amount of boards, but with hardly any of the great features, like different views, that make this software so unique.
If you want unlimited members, there is a Basic plan for a monthly fee of $11 for each person up to a max of $33 a month if you register for a year. It also provides greater customer support. Then, there is the Standard plan that includes some of those great views, like Gantt chart and Timeline, and some of the program’s integrations and automations. It’s a monthly fee of $14 a person up to a maximum fee of $42 a month for an annual subscription.
If you want access to all the views, as well as more integrations and automations, there is the Pro plan for a monthly fee of $22 a person. And like the other two systems, there is also an Enterprise plan.
Task dependency is critical if you have tasks that cannot start until others are completed.
Asana is the only system with a built-in task dependency management system that allows you to designate particular tasks that need to wait for another task to be done first. After that task is done, a notification is sent to you or the team member waiting to proceed with their task.
Trello doesn't have a built-in task dependency management system, but you can use the information you put into your cards, such as checklists, to help you make sure you catch all the tasks that need to be completed before you start another.
Monday.com also doesn’t have a built-in system, but you can add a dependency column to your board that allows you to create connections between tasks. An automation is immediately added to your board to ensure that particular tasks never start before the tasks they are dependent on.
To help you work as smoothly and efficiently as possible it’s important to be able to easily integrate your project management software with the other software and applications that you use in your daily freelance work.
Asana offers the most integrations, with more than 100, including Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, Mailchimp, Zoom, and many others that are popular with freelancers.
Through Power-Ups, Trello is also able to integrate with popular apps and programs like Google Drive, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zapier.
The same integrations are available for Monday.com, and it also offers sales and e-commerce integrations such as Salesforce and Shopify. Interestingly it also integrates with many project management programs. Monday.com even syncs with Asana and Trello!
If you are entrusted with confidential data or your client’s proprietary information, you need to make sure your project management system is safe and secure.
All three project management solutions are compliant with privacy regulations such as Service Organization Control (SOC) 1 and 2 audits, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
While Asana provides single sign-on authorization through Google on Premium plans and up, both Trello and Monday.com offer the option of two-factor authentication for extra security on all plans.
To help you navigate through their program and troubleshoot any problems, Asana has help guides and webinars, as well as user forums. There are also handy Asana Use Cases, where you can see how other freelancers have used Asana.
The only support you can access with Trello’s free plan is through their online resources and video tutorials, although like Asana there are also user forums to ask questions. You can receive priority email support if you pay for Business class.
Monday.com provides much of the same type of support. There are webinars, tutorials, help guides and forums, and you can email questions if you pay for the Basic plan.
None of these project management solutions offer phone support.
With Monday.com and Trello you can only comment on tasks, while there’s a window in Asana where you can engage in a conversation on the entire project, and there is a special team page to post announcements as well as create discussions. You receive an alert through your inbox when you are tagged in a comment or a new conversation gets underway.
Asana also has something special for designers. When an image is uploaded within a task, you can conveniently click on any part of that image to offer feedback.
In Trello, you insert comments right on the specific task card. A notification system updates people if a task they are assigned to has changed.
A window opens up when you click on a task, or pulse, in Monday.com, where you can enter in your comments or attach files. An inbox on the mobile app displays all the comments on your boards, even if you were not assigned the task.
All three project management tools are intuitive and really don’t require training.
Asana has a traditional interface. You’ll find the menu on the left hand side, which contains the main site destinations, like your inbox . You can quickly create new tasks through a pop-up window where you enter the name of the task, the owner, and a description. The task is automatically added to the right project by simply selecting the project from the dropdown list.
Along the way there are lots of icons to help guide you through the site, and Asana displays a variety of templates related to your selected industry to help you create the right process for your project. If you pay for the Business plan there are also automation features available to streamline your processes and help you save time.
Once you create a board in Monday.com, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to add columns, tasks, and details. It’s also easy to switch views from the pull down menu. Some people say it can be a bit too simple, though, as some of the icons aren’t labelled and are not immediately identifiable.
Monday.com also has additional functionality that is easy to use, like reporting and the ability to perform some financial calculations. There are also many templates to choose from to set up your ideal workflow process filled with sample content.
Trello is the simplest of the three. You create task cards, and add checklists and other attachments to the cards. You then just drag the cards from one column to another to chart your progress. But this easy-to-use Kanban board can become cumbersome if you have created a lot of cards and you need to search through them to update your project. You can end up scrolling around a lot.
Trello really doesn’t have any other functions, but there are Power-Ups you can add for things you need. The upside is that this simple board system makes Trello really flexible. You can use it for things other than project management, such as organizing a trip or planning a party.
Asana offers several different ways to view your project, like lists, Gantt charts, calendars, and Kanban boards. There are also some advanced views that are good for small- to medium-sized companies, like the Portfolio view, which monitors everything that is going on, from finance to sales to resources, and the Workload view, which offers an inside look at what each individual team member is doing.
Views are where Monday.com really shines. It offers by far the most ways to view your project. There are tables, charts, timelines, maps, calendars and a Kanban board, all easily and instantly accessible through a drop down menu. You can customize your workflow further by adding columns with different functions.
For team projects you can access a shared calendar and create specific boards to keep track of your team’s resources. But Asana is actually better geared towards teams. You can create a Team Page which houses a calendar, all the team's projects, and all the team's comments.
Trello really just focuses on the simplicity of using a visual board to organize your work.
Which is right for you?
Asana is ideal for complex projects, especially if the project involves several team members. It has superior team management features, such as housing all communication and information in a central place for the whole team to access. And the Workload and Portfolio features are good for tracking and allocating resources. In addition, Asana is the only solution with a built-in task dependency management system.
Monday.com is easier to use than Asana, but it still manages to offer many valuable features. You can see a lot of information at a glance on its boards, and you can view your project in many handy ways. It also offers some additional functionality that you may need for your freelance projects, such as reporting and financial management. It’s a good solution for people working on their own or in small groups.
Trello is the most visually-driven as well as the most intuitive. It’s easy to use, as you basically just move your tasks to the next stage to show your progress. It's also really flexible. Besides using it for your freelance projects you can use it for your personal projects. You can add Power-Ups to add more features, but Trello is best for freelancers working on their own on straightforward, linear projects. It’s also a good first step into the world of project management.