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Buyer's Guide
Project Portfolio Management
September 2022
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Ian Herzing - PeerSpot reviewer
Resource Manager at a non-tech company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 5
Stands out with portfolios, easy setup, and real-time information, but needs big improvement when it comes to workflows, automation, and dashboards
Pros and Cons
  • "I really enjoy the portfolios in Asana. One of the ways Asana stands out to me is with portfolios. You can have all your different projects, and you can have those assigned to different teams. If you want to customize a grouping of projects, you can use portfolios. For instance, one of the things that we do is we can assign a portfolio to a specific strategic objective we have, and we can put all those projects that are related to that strategic objective in that portfolio. We then know exactly what people are working on to help us achieve our goals. So, I really like portfolios."
  • "Their workflows and automation could use a big improvement. I don't even know if they have anything in that regard right now. I would really love to see a way where you can send custom alerts based on a task's completion or status change or an approval coming through. I would love to see a way to get some low-code functionality into Asana because right now, that is a big miss."

What is our primary use case?

Asana is mainly used for our marketing teams. Anytime a client has a campaign that they want to get out there, whether it's on Facebook, Instagram, or any sort of integrated marketing campaign, we build out a project for it in Asana, and we manage all the logistics of it. Discovery, design, development, and deployment are the main phases that we use to manage projects in Asana.

In terms of its version, we are using the business tier.

What is most valuable?

I really enjoy the portfolios in Asana. One of the ways Asana stands out to me is with portfolios. You can have all your different projects, and you can have those assigned to different teams. If you want to customize a grouping of projects, you can use portfolios. For instance, one of the things that we do is we can assign a portfolio to a specific strategic objective we have, and we can put all those projects that are related to that strategic objective in that portfolio. We then know exactly what people are working on to help us achieve our goals. So, I really like portfolios.

Another piece that I like is the proofing. I like how you can just click on the image in Asana and attach comments to it, and it'll turn into a task. It just makes the proofing process really intuitive, as opposed to using something like Adobe Acrobat or something like that.

One of Asana's differentiators is how easy it is to set up. Another area where Asana is strong is that the information is near real-time, and you don't have to save anything in order for the information to show up. All the information is pretty much real-time. So, if I add a task to somebody's task list, it's going to show up immediately, and they're going to see it. They're going to get a notification about it. 

What needs improvement?

Their workflows and automation could use a big improvement. I don't even know if they have anything in that regard right now. I would really love to see a way where you can send custom alerts based on a task's completion or status change or an approval coming through. I would love to see a way to get some low-code functionality into Asana because right now, that is a big miss.

On top of that, their dashboards are incredibly lacking. The way the widgets connect to the projects, they don't pull the data in the way that I really want them to. When I build a dashboard in Asana versus Smartsheet, I can't pull in data via a custom text field in Asana, but in Smartsheet, I can. That's a huge advantage because sometimes, you just want to report on really niche tasks or a launch date in a specific project or a collection of projects, and Smartsheet's dashboard features will let you do that, but Asana won't. So, their dashboards are lacking, and the workflows are pretty below where the market is right now. 

I would love to see a complete revamp of how they do dashboards right now. Dashboards are really poor. They don't display information well, and they don't look good. They don't pull in data in an advanced search kind of way. They are very simplistic. If you're a traditional project manager and you're PMP certified and you understand project management, you're going to be very frustrated with Asana's dashboards because they do not speak the language of project management. That's because of the way they are set up. So, I would like to see that completely revamped. It's just not an industry standard.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Asana for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've had it go down more than Smartsheet, which is one of the two tools that we've used. I've had it go down twice over the past two years. It is not too bad, but it is definitely something to consider.

Asana does have a website called Asana Status where you can check the stability of the site. They let you know if they're experiencing any issues. You can get real-time updates on anything that's going on with the site. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have 60 or 65 licenses. Its scalability is pricey. It is easy to add users. It is quite simple and not complicated, but it is pricey. We're on the business tier, which is $25 a month. Anytime you want to add users to the system, it's going to cost you money if you want to assign them tasks and you want them to be able to operate, comment, and complete things in your system. This is something to definitely consider if you're a lean or a startup organization, and you're trying to be cost-effective. There is just no simple sharing. Smartsheet is very simple with its sharing, whereas, with Asana, you need a license. You also can't just add one user to the system; you have to add a bucket of five. It's definitely worth considering.

How are customer service and support?

We didn't use their technical support, but we did use our customer success manager. Asana's support isn't as robust as other tools or other communities. If I Google a question in regards to Smartsheet, there is a community post about it. Somebody most likely would have answered the question before, whereas Asana just doesn't have the same kind of community. When I do search for a question, normally, the person who responds to the question on the forum is like a sales rep who says, "Hey, thanks for your question. We don't have this feature yet. Please submit a request," which doesn't really help me out.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had spreadsheets. When you go from Excel or a spreadsheet, anything looks appetizing. All the tools look great because everything is there on the spreadsheet. 

The reason why we went for it originally was just that it does task management really well. It's simple. It does task management. It keeps your projects organized in a much cleaner fashion than a spreadsheet. It wasn't hard to stand up. So, the ease of use and the fact that it kept us organized at the time was exactly what we needed.

We saw us using Asana, and we knew it was a big market player. We needed something, and at the time, we probably had 20 to 30 people. We might have had just 15 people at the time, and we thought that it is not going to cost us that much. So, we purchased it, but as we scaled, we realized that we needed more complex visualizations for dashboards and reporting in our projects. We realized that Asana wasn't perfect, but we were too deep to make a switch because the switching cost was too high. 

How was the initial setup?

This is probably where Asana has its biggest differentiator. It's probably the easiest to set up of all the project management tools that I've used. The draw to it is that people get on a demo with Asana and they find it very easy to use. It's just tasks and assigning people's names to those tasks. If you're an organization that wasn't organized before, you're managing stuff out of spreadsheets and you bump into Asana, you're going to see a big benefit to it. 

There are no issues with setting your projects up and getting them in front of people right away. That's another positive feature of Asana.

What was our ROI?

We likely have seen an ROI in the aggregate, but if we evaluate it in the past three or six months, we haven't got an ROI. We rely on reporting outside of the tool that could be done inside the tool, which adds on a bit of administrative bulk that we don't need. It's also because we're more of a mature organization, and we know exactly what we require out of our project data that we didn't know before. So, in the short term, return on investment hasn't been there. When we were starting out or were a startup, getting out of that startup mentality was a huge return on investment, but nowadays, that might not be the case.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We're on the business tier, which is $25 a month if you're on an annual contract. It's $31 if you're on a month-to-month contract.

In my experience, there are no hidden costs with Asana. I know Smartsheet has these add-ons that you can buy, which is an additional cost, but Asana doesn't have any add-ons that I know of. 

When you're trying to scale the product and want to add users, you have to do it in buckets of five. This is also something to consider. You can't just add one user to the system; you have to add buckets of five. At least from my knowledge and the annual contract that we have, you had buckets of five, and from there, you got to use them. So, it's definitely worth considering.

Asana might have a minimum on some of these tiers for licenses. You probably have to have 15 people at least to get the business tier. On their premium care, you could probably just get three people, but that's a nuance. I really don't remember too well.

What other advice do I have?

If you wanted to use it for the first time, my suggestion would be to consider the kind of projects you are managing. If you are managing marketing projects or events, or you are just trying to coordinate projects that have a quick turnover, and not very long life cycles, then you can evaluate Asana and get a trial going. It'll be good for you. However, if you're managing IT projects or projects with very long life cycles, such as construction or engineering-type projects, Asana definitely isn't a choice for you. Therefore, first and foremost, consider what your projects are about, and if it aligns with short-term marketing projects, you can go ahead and spin up a trial. To have a trial, build out a project yourself and try it out and understand what you like and what you don't like. Of course, it's going to have your task management and your assignee. That's going to be great, but you should also think about the proofing, reporting, and automation that you might want. 

I encourage people evaluating project management tools to at least look at three or four tools because they all have got specific nuances that make them a little different, and you might like one nuance over another, but evaluating your project type is the first step.

I'm going to rate Asana a six out of ten. Asana is probably going to be more like an eight or a nine for you if you're managing marketing projects, or you're an events coordinator, or you're just trying to get your little startup together where you are a 20-person organization, and you want to organize people and need something that's easy to use. However, if you're someone like myself who's more an advanced project manager, and you're working on tech projects or long-term and more complex projects that have dependencies and require some advanced reporting for your executives to take a look at, then Asana might be a four or a five. Therefore, I'll give it the middle range of a six because it's not a bad tool. It just has to be right for you.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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IT Project Manager at Gravity Diagnostics
Real User
Top 20
Designed for project management, meets all IT software development needs, and integrates with Power BI
Pros and Cons
  • "The roadmap feature and the ability to integrate with Power BI are probably the most valuable features in it. It is a great solution. I absolutely love it. It is a tool that was designed for project management, and it has been awesome to work with it so far. I also love Confluence."
  • "They can maybe dumb down the directions for building the automation a little bit because to be able to build out the automation, I had to play around with it and learn what all the fields meant and what they were referencing. I don't have an IT background originally. My background is in biology, and I got into project management by chance. I am good at it, but I haven't really worked with coding languages. In terms of writing automation, it is easier for devs because they intuitively know what they're being asked, but as a PM who originally didn't have IT experience, it was a little bit daunting at first. It could also have an extra hierarchy to be able to allow tasks under stories. It could be the way it is set up at our organization, but currently, under stories, you can have sub-tasks, but you can't create a task. Being able to customize your hierarchy a little bit more would be beneficial because sometimes, the devs would say, "Well, here's a story, and now we need sub-tasks," but as we were building out the sub-tasks, sometimes we had to go a step lower to dig in a little bit more, and we couldn't do that."

What is our primary use case?

We used it in my previous organization for project management, product management, and release management. In my current organization, where I started working a week ago, we are using Jira strictly for help-desk tickets. We are using DevOps for our release management. So, we've got DevOps, Jira, and some homegrown stuff, and I'm trying to figure out what's going to work best for this new organization.

I've used Jira and Confluence previously, and this is my first time using the help-desk ticketing system. It is cool and not a whole lot different than SolarWinds or Zendesk, except the appearance of it is more Jira.

How has it helped my organization?

We were using Microsoft OneNote for systems engineering and network engineering. It was being used for our documentation, environments, and services, and it was a nightmare. We transitioned everybody and copied everything into Confluence. We were then able to tag specific tickets to the notes, and there were links between what work was recently done and the most updated notes in Confluence.

What is most valuable?

The roadmap feature and the ability to integrate with Power BI are probably the most valuable features in it. It is a great solution. I absolutely love it. It is a tool that was designed for project management, and it has been awesome to work with it so far. I also love Confluence.

What needs improvement?

They can maybe dumb down the directions for building the automation a little bit because to be able to build out the automation, I had to play around with it and learn what all the fields meant and what they were referencing. I don't have an IT background originally. My background is in biology, and I got into project management by chance. I am good at it, but I haven't really worked with coding languages. In terms of writing automation, it is easier for devs because they intuitively know what they're being asked, but as a PM who originally didn't have IT experience, it was a little bit daunting at first.

It could also have an extra hierarchy to be able to allow tasks under stories. It could be the way it is set up at our organization, but currently, under stories, you can have sub-tasks, but you can't create a task. Being able to customize your hierarchy a little bit more would be beneficial because sometimes, the devs would say, "Well, here's a story, and now we need sub-tasks," but as we were building out the sub-tasks, sometimes we had to go a step lower to dig in a little bit more, and we couldn't do that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has never gone down for me. It was always reliable, even from the mobile app.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It was fine. It seemed to integrate with all of our systems with ease. At my previous organization, there were probably 500 or 600 people using Jira. There were many different roles including product management, project management, VPs of IT and Ops, IT data services, developers, network engineers, systems engineers, and CBAs. It was a full scale of IT professionals.

At my current organization, where I started working a week ago, we are using Jira, but there are only a handful of people who are actually using it. It is strictly for help-desk tickets. I am trying to implement it and roll it out to the organization on a much larger scale, and I'm going to have to talk to them about pricing and other things. In this new organization, there are probably about 500 or 600 employees in total. Assuming I get the buy-in from everyone, which I don't think would be a problem, I would probably need at least a hundred licenses for users and then expand from there as needed.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't interacted with their technical support, but I bet they would have been awesome.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used Smartsheet, MS Project, and Trello. Jira is more software-development-specific and a much easier tool to use.

How was the initial setup?

In my previous organization, I believe its initial setup was complex. I was not at the administrative user level. I was given admin privileges for certain projects but not for the whole Jira. This is the first time I actually have admin privileges over all of Jira, and it was set up for me.

It probably took a few days. It would have also involved a lot of conversations and other stuff.

What about the implementation team?

It would have been in-house. In terms of maintenance, it didn't seem to need maintenance from our side.

What other advice do I have?

I would advise going with the entire Atlassian suite. Don't just use one aspect of Jira, unless you have a very specific need for using bits and pieces. Jira is better when Confluence and everything can be integrated, and you have source code management and all of that from the same software or platform.

I would rate Jira a ten out of ten. I love Jira. It has the ability to just do everything, and it is a one-stop shop for all of your IT software development needs.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Graphics Manager at TricorBraun
User
Great notes and reminders with useful automation capabilities
Pros and Cons
  • "Since we've incorporated Monday.com, we've dropped fewer balls, greatly improved our ability to cover for employees while they are out, and keep our sales team and account coordination team all updated in real-time on each project."
  • "A little more customization on the UI would be good."

What is our primary use case?

I manage an art department at one of the largest flexible packaging companies in the world. Including myself, we are a team of ten people. We use Monday.com to track our art projects and the various stages of each project. 

Our sales reps also need to be kept in the loop as to where each of their projects is in the pipeline at any given time. With the amount of sales reps and the number of projects we have, Monday really helps us keep everyone on the same page in real-time. It's helped us a lot. 

How has it helped my organization?

Prior to using Monday we never had any kind of project management software to speak of. We tried Google Docs, Trello, and Smartsheet. Monday was a real game-changer for us as it gave us a much more manageable and shared platform to list all of our tasks. Since we've incorporated Monday.com, we've dropped fewer balls, greatly improved our ability to cover for employees while they are out, and keep our sales team and account coordination team all updated in real-time on each project.

What is most valuable?

Some of the biggest features have been notes, reminders, and automation. The notes section is great for keeping the most up-to-date project information in case anyone needs to take some time off. All the info is right there. Reminders are great for getting email notifications when something is due. Having that extra ping in the inbox helps these not get missed. The automation is a game-changer too, since there are so many stages of an art project, changing status and having the program do an action right away is a great way to reduce clicks. 

What needs improvement?

A little more customization on the UI would be good. There's light mode and dark mode, however, not much other customization. For what it is, it looks just fine, yet maybe something a little more aesthetically pleasing would be nicer on the eyes. 

There is an update with a new look being released soon, and I went ahead and tried it before it was released. It made the program look more like an excel spreadsheet, and literally, no one wants to see something like that. They could maybe rethink that. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution going on four years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is very good, it's rarely down, and, when it is, it's down for less than a few minutes. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very good. It's easy to add more users and project boards.

How are customer service and support?

I've not had much need to reach out for technical support or service. 

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We tried a few other options including SmartSheet, Trello, and Google Docs. None of them were as organized and connected as Monday. 

How was the initial setup?

The setup was very straightforward; we were up and running in less than an hour.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the setup in-house.

What was our ROI?

There is no monetization in an art department. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The setup is pretty easy. There is a series of customizable templates or you can start from scratch if you're savvy. The pricing is competitive depending on the size of your team.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Asana, Trello, and Wrike.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Director, Project Management Office at a wholesaler/distributor with 10,001+ employees
Real User
The ability to look at resource loading is useful, but it needs collaboration features
Pros and Cons
  • "The ability to look at the resource loading is most valuable."
  • "Collaboration within the tool is lacking when you compare it to online or cloud-based tools."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for building Research and Development Project labs.

How has it helped my organization?

It has been helpful for calculating the time of completion of our projects and looking at the critical parts of our projects.

What is most valuable?

The ability to look at resource loading is most valuable.

What needs improvement?

Collaboration within the tool is lacking when you compare it to online or cloud-based tools.

We should be able to notify assignees about the tasks that have been assigned to them. This is something that we don't have, and it could be because of the way it was deployed for us.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for about five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seems scalable to me.

How are customer service and support?

I don't have any experience with them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

It was our company's decision to switch to this. With my previous employer, I have used different solutions. Smartsheet is one of them.

How was the initial setup?

I did not deploy it myself. I am an end-user. We have an IT organization for its deployment.

What other advice do I have?

You have to define your use case and see if this tool makes sense for your use case or not. 

I would rate it a seven out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
Project Portfolio Management
September 2022
Get our free report covering Microsoft, monday, Atlassian, and other competitors of Smartsheet. Updated: September 2022.
632,779 professionals have used our research since 2012.