I’m going to be honest—this article wasn’t easy for me to write. If you have the Marketing on a Budget Guide, you know that I’m seriously adverse to migrating any platforms unless you really need to. Potentially having to migrate our Workflow Management? Oh. My. Stress.
(skip to the end if you want to know the best Workflow Management App).
In general, I’m glad I wrote this article and kept the options open. I learned a lot about the program we use right now and I learned that the limitations we have might be ingrained within the program and decided to check out something new. (Hey, platform FOMO can happen to the best of us.)
Ah! I’m ahead of myself. Okay. I started by doing research on the big four that I see around a lot: Trello, Monday.com, Basecamp, and Asana.
Then I started accounts with all four workflow management platforms and input a week’s worth of tasks into them. Now I have all the schedulers I could ever want… and all the emails that go along with them. Here’s the deets:
Pros and Cons of Trello
Full disclosure: we currently use Trello.
It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles – though it can – and it allows us to make changes easily. We’re pretty content prolific and we have our own workflow management system so we use Trello as a tool for communicating about individual pieces of content.
Trello works well for us because we don’t want to bog ourselves down with an additional management system that is time consuming to build and cumbersome to make changes to.
Who is Trello good for?
It’s great for a team that wants to stay lightweight and that manages their todo list on the fly. The team that use this one have to be highly communicative and know how the system they created works.
In other words, this is great for entrepreneurial minds that plan content and then just run with it.
Pros of Trello
- ITS FREE! You pay as you add more and more features, but you don’t really need much more than the basic stuff.
- Trello is straightforward. Once you’re familiar with the platform, which doesn’t take long, you will spend less time building your boards than you will actually doing the work.
- You don’t get bogged down IN Trello. You just put stuff there, check things off as they get done, and move on.
- Great for multi-disciplinary teamwork. You can add lists for different types of disciplines and everyone can see where each discipline is with a given task.
- The Powerups options are incredibly versatile. It’s easy to find any kind of tool you need.
Cons of Trello
- It can get hefty with all the boards and cards and lists. Take measures to keep your boards clean looking – we use checklists and create a secondary archive board.
- Trello is only simple boards – It doesn’t have other views without popups you don’t segment them into
- It’s so simple that management will need to make sure that everyone on the team understands the system in place to use the board properly.
Pros and Cons of Monday.com
Honestly, this one was what made me afraid of the platform FOMO. Monday.com is newer and it’s really making waves in the Workflow management app chat spaces.
One thing I noticed is the language they use. They literally have a google ad that says, “better than basecamp” …we’ll see about that, Monday.com.
I found myself really wanting to like Monday.com but couldn’t quite get there. As someone that has spent the last couple of years filling out calendars and robust marketing todos, this feels heavy to me. I would spend more time in this program than I really want to.
Who is Monday.com good for?
Where Monday.com excels is in the hyper-scheduled human. This would be great for a done-for-you freelancer that needed to time their work hours or a solopreneur going HARD on getting their business started.
It also might be worth it for hands off companies that have managers who only spend their time delegating. Someone basically spending full time in delegation mode.
Pros of Monday.com
- Nice for client tasks for freelancers. Monday.com has a time tracking setting so it will look at how long a task actually took!
- The dashboard view makes it quite nice to look at everything at a glance.
- Reporting is easy if the team fills everything out. A micro-manager type won’t have to ask a million questions to find the status of things.
- Nice integrations – including with Shopify.
Cons of Monday.com
- They don’t have a free forever plan.
- It’s cumbersome and takes quite some time to learn the program.
- It will take a lot of time spent in the program to build it and use it consistently.
- A lot of this feels a bit like I’m passive aggressively micromanaging Courtney when I’m filling things out for our internal set up.
- There are SO many views. I debated putting this into the pros, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. I find that I want to build stuff and look at it in all the views. But when do I get my actual stuff done?
Pros and Cons of Basecamp
This is sad, because I really love the creators of Basecamp and their philosophy behind simplicity, but Basecamp was a bit difficult for me to get into.
It is simultaneously very simple and has too many buttons to click. It feels like it is trying to replace every piece of a company so people never have to leave Basecamp. Why? The point of a workflow management platform is to get work done, not spend all my time in the program.
Who is Basecamp good for?
Basecamp is good for teams that are small and lightweight. They have to be seriously ON TOP of scheduling and removing old content. It will work best if there is someone that has a lot of time dedicated to putting all of this together and keeping it up to date.
- Every board is set up the same way so you only need to know one system.
- The split between Company View, Teams, and Projects, makes this robust board easy to use for separate parts of the business.
- Groups in the todo lists are really nice to split up types of things within one list.
- It’s actually pretty easy to use once you’re used to all the different places to put stuff.
- The “my stuff” that hangs out at the top is nice. If Basecamp is properly managed, you wouldn’t have to leave that view very often.
Cons of Basecamp
- No free forever plan
- It’s so much work to do each to put each board together—and since everything is split up on each of the boards, I feel like I’m going to spend a lot of time in basecamp.
- As the platform gets more and more use, it gets bigger and more cumbersome.
- There are so many individual sections, and there are a lot of different ways to convey the same information in each section so Basecamp really lends itself to duplication of work.
Pros and Cons of Asana
When it comes to workflow management, Asana is a powerful tool. You have to know how to wield it if you want great results, but when you’re using it consistently, you’re going to get addicted to the platform. This may or may not be a good thing because Asana as a business does a good job of keeping you on the platform, but it’s really meant to be a place where you organize what needs to happen elsewhere.
It offers a sense of cool safety with its checks and balances but it’s also really easy to make mistakes that go unnoticed on larger teams. If a team is already pretty segmented, Asana can play into that and you risk some loss in communication.
Who is Asana Good for?
Asana is ideal for small teams that are versatile, highly communicative, and really wanting to get their shit together and grow their business. This is great if they need a bit of structure to their work life and they want to be actively held accountable for their work.
It’s a step above Trello in the micro-managing department but with the teams and the projects it’s stays pretty low key. It adds more structure, personalizes todo lists, and it can hold a lot of data and projects all in one place.
- Free Forever Plan
- Communication and task sharing is easy across the platform.
- The views are super easy to use.
- The “my tasks” view is nice. You can see everything you need to do and there’s a place to provide context and ask questions.
- The “teams” are great. Use them either with teams or I would suggest for different aspects of the business. Marketing, Clients, Accounting, etc.
- Overall layout is nice. Everything is on the left hand side bar, and you can collapse and expand as needed.
- Favorites is a great feature. You can add the projects where you spend the most of your time or need to focus on.
- It’s so easy to drop the ball. Asana is quite segmented so if you’re in a hurry or not the type to fill out every single thing, it’s really easy to make a mistake that can be bad for teamwork in the future.
- It’s so robust that it’s a time suck. There are a lot of buttons to push to get where I want to be.
- Use case issue: If you’re assigned a task within a project that you’re not added to and there’s no information on the task, you have to reach out to the project manager to understand the expectations of you – this is what Asana is designed to limit.
- As you have more teams or projects, this can get huge and complicated. This is especially true for larger teams with a lot going on.
- The teams allow you to leave people on the team out of the conversation – sometimes it’s good to keep cooks out of the kitchen, but if the collaborative effort needs to be multi-disciplinary at all, everyone needs to be invited to the team. This can be an issue for larger teams.
What is the Best Workflow Management System?
So Basecamp and Monday.com miss the mark completely for us. Basecamp is structured nicely on the home page, but messy where it matters—in the teams and projects. Too easy to lose stuff and drop the ball. Monday.com is the opposite. It’s so structured I feel micromanaged just trying to figure out the program and someone like me will rebel against that program.
The winner: It’s a straight down the middle tie between Trello and Asana—which is funny because Courtney and I went back and forth between these two programs to choose what we wanted to set up (Courtney is pro Asana and I like Trello).
Both programs are extremely usable and friendly so it really comes down to personal preference and what your team needs. Where Trello offers freedom and ease of moving things around, Asana offers structure and the different kinds of views.
Trello can basically do everything under the sun with added powerups and Asana makes it super easy to function within the program at the base level.
Both programs allow you to easily invite outside people into specific boards or teams—which makes having clients part of their work really simple.
Asana admittedly has a cleaner overall layout but it doesn’t allow us to save “Subtasks” like we can in Trello Checklists, a feature that we use all the time.
Trello is easier to use on the board but it doesn’t have the super clean left hand sidebar and robust teams view that Asana has – it’s just board by board.
How to Choose?
This is SO hard for me to say because I legitimately hate migration and duplicating work—hell, I get mad when I have to repeat myself to my Dutch Boyfriend whose first language isn’t English and I will burst into a story out of nowhere expecting him to listen (we’re working on it)—but I legitimately cannot choose between programs and I know the importance of AB testing… everything.
So for the remainder of the quarter, I’m going to set up in both programs (gag me).
I’ll report back when we make a decision on the best one to move forward with.
Want to hear more? Check out Courtney’s comparison:
Do you have a favorite workflow management app? Tell us about it in the comments!