Wrike VS Asana: A Head-To-Head Project Management Comparison
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The project management world is populated by apps. Software programs, new and old, mingle on the streets of cyberspace, trading compliments and challenges as they iterate and upgrade, adding features and adjusting prices to win as many followers as possible. Some of these apps are small and nimble, operating in niche corners of the market. Others are great titans, striding the metaphorical avenues, strutting their comprehensive feature lists and bragging about their ease of use and graphic design.
Today, two of these Project Management lords go toe-to-toe in a battle to determine overall greatness. Who are our contenders? First, the rock-solid, long-time legend: Wrike. Bringing the challenge is the ambitious, new-age mentality of Asana. It looks to be a battle for the ages.
Table of Contents
Okay, so if you have never looked into the world of project management before, you may be unfamiliar with these names. Let’s start with Wrike. Founded in 2006, Wrike has a reputation for being a solid, traditional, dependable project management platform. With a reputation for being relatively comprehensive in its feature set, Wrike has remained approachable and affordable as well. Asana, on the other hand, was founded in 2007 by a couple of ex-Facebook executives. Named for a word in Sanskrit, Asana has always prioritized user experience over feature lists, going for beautiful, clean visuals and a simple set of features. In the last few years, though, Asana has added several key capabilities, pulling itself within an arm’s length of other, more comprehensive project management apps without sacrificing its excellent ease of use. Check out our full Asana review for more details.
In the first round of our head-to-head battle, we compare the fundamental capabilities of the two contenders. Right out of the gate, Wrike seems nearly unbeatable. With project templates for different plan needs, Gantt charts (a timeline view of projects favored by project managers), resource, budget, and time tracking, Wrike is clearly quite the specimen. Everywhere you look, this app fairly explodes with great features, from interactive reports to customizable dashboards and so much more.
Asana is less muscular, more sleek and toned. In a direct comparison, flaws such as a lack of time tracking stand out glaringly. Having said that, Asana is still impressive with new features consistently finding their way into the app, from portfolios, new project views, task dependencies, and more.
In the end, the first round goes to Wrike, but Asana is not out of this fight yet.
As we roll into the second round of the bout, the picture becomes less clear. Both Wrike and Asana offer a free version of their app, with Wrike’s limited to just 5 users. Each version is a severely limited form of the full-featured version, but can be effective enough in small circumstances. For their first paid tier, both Wrike and Asana charge around $10/user/month (well, ok, they charge $9.80 and $9.90 per month respectively, but close enough). Things remain mostly similar in terms of what features you unlock at this tier, as well. Both companies provide project management features, from different project views to task dependencies and the like. Up another subscription level, you unlock portfolio management and resource tracking features in both apps. Asana wins the price war here, coming in at $19.99/user/month. Wrike costs $24.80/user/month at this level, and while that is a bit more, you also get time tracking for the extra five bucks. In the grand scheme of things, I’d say that was worth it. If you want advanced features like single sign-on, custom branding, and more, both apps offer strikingly similar features in their enterprise plans as well.
In terms of pure affordability, Asana takes the cake with a more flexible free plan (no 5-person limitations) and a slightly cheaper upper tier subscription. Honestly, though, these two are pretty evenly matched up and down the price sheet.
Ease Of Use
With both contenders tied up at one round apiece, we turn to ease-of-use: a subjective category if I have ever heard of one. Honestly, with Wrike’s recent improvements to their design, this one may well come down to your personal preferences. Having said that, for me, Asana’s layout and design are just that little bit more intuitive. With Wrike, all your features are easy enough to access, but Asana’s UI is just beautiful, almost joyous to use. I acknowledge, however, that this is entirely an opinion, not based on any definable fact. For that reason, I declare this round a draw between the two contenders.
Wrike and Asana each offer a mobile app (it would be a little crazy not to have one these days), with versions available for iOS and Android. The Android apps are in a dead heat (though tens of thousands more people have reviewed Asana) at just over 4 stars apiece. On iOS, Wrike’s app manages 4.2 stars, while Asana clocks in at right around 4.7. Like with the Google apps, the number of Asana reviews exceed those for Wrike by an order of magnitude. Thus, despite the similar scores, it seems that far more subscribers use Asana on mobile than Wrike. Advantage: Asana.
Customer Service & Support
Both Wrike and Asana host a version of the ubiquitous “knowledgebase” that can be found throughout the software industry. This collection of articles, help guides, video tutorials and more is an excellent choice for self-service customer support. Both companies also offer direct support through email and phone as well. The big differentiating factor between Wrike and Asana’s customer support options, then, is webinars. The Wrike team offers regular online classes in the proper use of their app, while Asana does not. Advantage, then, goes to Wrike.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
As I always say, even the best app is not perfect, and neither Wrike nor Asana is an exception to this rule. Here are the top criticisms for each:
First, Wrike has received criticism for a somewhat uninspiring user interface. Even recent updates have failed to impress, especially compared to major competitors (including Asana). There have also been some reports of bugginess in Wrike’s mobile apps. My biggest overall criticism of Wrike, though, is the impression this app gives off when you browse its features and log in for the first time. There is no other way to say it; Wrike feels stuffy and old-fashioned when compared with major competitors. Nothing about Wrike excites me or impresses me, and I say that as someone who has personally tested more than 50 project management apps. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Wrike, but nothing stands out to me as exceptionally right with it either.
Asana has added a number of key features in the years since I first tested it, but one of my original criticisms still holds some water. Asana is designed for you to fully embrace a particular system of project management, (inspired and influenced by Agile methodology), and if you want to use it in a different way, it just doesn’t work all that well. On top of that, Asana is still missing a few key features, most notably Time Tracking. Asana does have a feature that lets users indicate progress on tasks, but none that actually counts time spent working.
Who wins this round? I feel that honor has to go to Wrike. Sometimes being old-fashioned is not a weakness at all, but a strength. Wrike doesn’t cripple itself by forcing users to adapt themselves to it, but rather adapts itself to users.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Both Wrike and Asana are highly rated project management applications. What has made them so popular in the 10+ years they have been in operation? Here are a few of the highest rated aspects from both Wrike and Asana.
Wrike gets a lot of love for offering excellent communication and time tracking features. Many project management apps fall down in both of these categories, so checking both boxes off is a big win for Wrike. It’s also a win for you, since you won’t have to pay for the likes of Slack or a third-party time tracker if you give Wrike your project management business.
Asana impresses with visual design, simple operations, and the aforementioned free version. Since your team will likely use their project management app every day, visual design and simplicity are pretty important. Better, if your team is small enough, or if you want an app for personal use, Asana is yours for a grand total of nothing.
This round goes to Asana; it is pretty remarkable just how many positive testimonials I found for this app!
Both Wrike and Asana offer extensive lists of integrations, allowing you to significantly tailor the apps to your personal styles and preferences. Integrations can significantly make up for failings in the native app, so it is always worthwhile (if not necessary) to check and see if any of your other business apps play nicely with your project management platform. Our contenders have remarkably similar lists of options, including the likes of Zendesk, Slack, Salesforce, Google apps, and more. Both also offer an API, allowing you to craft your own integrations if your IT department is up for it.
As I said, both Wrike and Asana have similar integrations lists. However, I think the win here goes to Asana; thanks to a free time tracking integration, you can make up one of this app’s biggest deficiencies in the battle against Wrike.
Security is a pretty big deal in our cyber world, and both Wrike and Asana know it well. However, between the two of them, Wrike seems to really come out ahead, with attention to detail in every step of the process. With secure server locations, encryption of applications, and a general approach that emphasizes reliability and privacy, Wrike takes a decisive win here. To be clear, though, Asana also takes appropriate security measures, with climate-controlled and patrolled server sites and encryption.
After a battle for the ages, our two project management titans are barely winded, ready and eager to keep pushing forward. But our time has come to an end. So how did the two fighters measure up? After nine rounds of head-to-head action, each contender ended up with four wins, with one draw between the two of them. A tie!
In the end, you have probably been forming an opinion as we have moved through this piece as to which app you think you would prefer. Value security and reliability? Go with Wrike. Want good design, slightly lower price, and good integrations? Go with Asana.
Fortunately, both apps offer a free trial, so you can give them a try before deciding for sure. If you do, come back and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Neither option fit the bill?
On the off chance that neither Wrike or Asana (our project management behemoths) float your boat, I would recommend ClickUp. A relative project management newcomer, Clickup is cheap, offers excellent management features, and is incredibly well designed. For basic, small-business project management, it would be hard to go wrong.