Why We Dropped Trello for Asana

Written by James Jackson while listening to smooth jazz at some point on December 7th.

That’s right. After a four-month stint using Trello, we decided to make a change. We'll explain why. We’re a remote agency that makes super cool stuff for clients across the country. We juggle projects with the dexterity of an aspiring circus performer and found ourselves in need of project management (PM) software that blended with our rapid workflow.

So we thought Trello might do the trick.

It was made for a more agile workflow, allowed us to keep projects and tasks updated and clearly marked their progress. It seemed like this really useful, trendy thing that larger product companies were using and knew it’d be perfect for us too. There were however, after a few months, some shortcomings we just couldn’t continue to overlook:

  • To complete a task, we needed to drag each task to the correct list (you can finally mark a task complete!)
  • Time tracking options weren’t attractive or intuitive
  • The lack of visibility would make things difficult for us as our team scaled
  • The interface itself isn’t as well-designed as some of the other options out there (let’s face it, we like nice things)

So what exactly were we looking for? Well, we started by writing out a short list of 100% non-negotiables. Features we all agreed needed to be much better than Trello for us to even continue the conversation. The two primary features we listed were an easy way to keep tabs of:

  • Monthly tasks for existing clients
  • Tasks for new client projects

Aside from that, there were a few others that weren’t quite as important, but they were up for very little debate, knowing they would make our jobs as PM’s, Designers, Engineers and Content strategists much easier.

  • Better project organization for the PM
  • Better individual task organization
  • Ability to find what we needed, when we needed it without too much effort
  • Get a quick overview of a project/person’s tasks for the day/week]
  • Seamless time tracking integration options

We did some testing with platforms that promised they’d fill that emptiness we felt, but failed to deliver for one reason or another. A few of us had experience with Basecamp in the past, for example, but despite the v3 overhaul its’ previous version left too bad of a taste in our mouths to continue.

Then in walks Asana.

This shiny, well-designed web app with no shortage of integrations with enough options to scale with us as our company grew. So what did that transition look like? Well, we had 15 or so ongoing projects of varying sizes, all with their own tasks, comments and files attached to them. So naturally, we moved everything over manually.

Let me explain.

By this point, Trello was getting away from us. Trello commanded too much of our attention. It didn’t take long for us to realize it was time to start severing ties. We knew which projects we needed to migrate over and which ones to sunset. We blocked off a few days, each of us took a bucket of projects to move over and got to work. We removed tasks that were no longer relevant, already done or had become irrelevant as a project evolved. Now, several months in, and we’re all generally happier. We’ll continue to use the features Asana has to offer and tweak if we need to, but so far, so good. In hindsight, Trello, it seemed, was great at handling individual tasks and had to be further finessed to include multiple projects. While Asana on the other hand, is much better equipped to handle full-fledged projects and the nuances that came along with them. And with Asana’s new Boards feature, Trello is slowly becoming a distant memory. What PM tool do you use? We’ll soon be sharing in more detail how Asana fits into our workflow.