Welcome to the project management software arena. Today, Asana vs Jira will square off in a showdown to determine which PM tool deserves to stand in the winner’s circle.
With so many project management solutions on the market, finding the right one can feel as daunting as picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Our goal with this article is to equip you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Our team of analysts evaluated a number of main PM software features in the following categories:
We have a saying around here: what would be most helpful for the end user? Whenever you’re evaluating software, that’s the question you should ask on behalf of your company.
When you get into the weeds of a feature-by-feature breakdown, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s truly important. Don’t get me wrong — articles that compare two products at a deep level are great. And necessary. You get a comprehensive overview of the capabilities of each system.
But it’s a risky business to base any buying decision on a checklist. You need a thorough understanding of your company’s requirements. It’s like purchasing a house. Sure, every house you look at probably ticks most of your basic boxes. But just because they have a kitchen doesn’t mean those kitchens will be able to handle your annual family Thanksgiving dinners.
Bottom line: don’t let the flashy appeal of nifty functionality distract you from what should matter the most. And that’s finding a project management solution that’s so perfect for your company it’ll feel like you’re cheating the system when you’re using it.
Now on to the Jira vs Asana comparison.
Asana vs Jira: How Do the Products Compare?
Project Definition and Description
It only takes a few steps to set up a new project in Asana. Once you choose a template or blank project, you can add details like:
Keep in mind that only users who belong to a team have the ability to create a project.
Ever had pesky tasks that get too big? Asana covers that, too. The system lets you convert a task into a project so you have full control over organizing your info and managing every detail, no matter the size.
For any project you create, Jira comes with a default field called “description.” This makes it easy to capture and track key info such as the project scope and its description. If you need to link to an external site, you can do so using the project URL field.
Pre-Built Project Templates
Don’t have the time (or patience) to create a new project template from scratch? Both products come with pre-built templates to make your job easier and more enjoyable.
Jira provides out-of-the-box templates for a number of use-cases and methodologies. Here’s a rundown:
Bug tracking and task tracking
Asana’s mission is to give you more time to focus on the work that’s most important. To that end, it offers eight templates to choose from so you don’t have to spend time making them. Easily edit template details such as the name and pick which team to share it with.
The downside is that only two of the templates are free. If you want more options, you’ll need to go the premium route. However, premium templates also include custom fields.
If you want customization in addition to pre-built efficiency, Asana has the option to generate templates based on individual projects. From there, it only takes a few clicks to reuse a template on any other projects.
Say you run a lot of marketing campaigns and have a lot of recurring information for each project, such as the same fields, sections and task sequences. All you need to do is save one of those projects as a template and your team can turn to it for any future campaigns.
Jira falls a bit short for this feature, as it doesn’t have any inbuilt way to create custom templates. You do have a couple options to get around this, however:
Use the Gaia for Jira add-on from Atlassian Marketplace
Develop a custom plugin or script using the project-blueprint module
Both products included every feature for this category, but Asana earned good and excellent ratings across the board, while Jira only received an adequate rating from our analysts for customized templates. That gave Asana the upper hand.
Asana rates better than Jira in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.
Issues (similar to tasks in other project management software) and subtasks form the foundational elements of any project in Jira. The system hits a home run when it comes to managing issues and subtasks, with a comprehensive range of settings and options for any number of actions:
Cloning an issue
Splitting an issue
Converting a subtask to an issue
Converting an issue to a subtask
Restricting an issue
Flagging an issue
View of an issue backlog record in Jira.
In Asana, every action revolves around tasks. For that reason, you can expect a lot of control. Here’s a look at what you can do:
Create new tasks
Duplicate an existing task
Merge two tasks together
Print a task
Delete a task
To create a task, type it into a list or use the “quick add option, which you can access no matter which screen view you’re on. You also have the option to create tasks via email (make sure you use the one associated with your Asana account). And since Asana provides Android and iOS support, you can create tasks on the go from your mobile device.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to split a task into subtasks to make your work more manageable. With Asana, every subtask inherits the same fields as its parent. It comes with limitations, however, since subtasks don’t display a parent task’s due date, assignee or project info.
If you’re after automation, Jira provides a robust feature that lets you define:
Post status change functions
You’ll get everything you need to automate repetitive actions so you can spend more time on other responsibilities.
Asana, on the other hand, lacks such automation. It’s possible to set priority levels with custom fields, but if you want to change them, you’ll have to do it manually.
Kanban layouts, anyone? Asana and Jira are here to make your project management more visual and organized.
Asana offers Kanban boards with columns and cards so your team can visually track the progress of each project. With an overview of where things stand, it’s easier to pick out obstacles so you can keep things moving.
A Kanban layout in Asana.
Jira is the self-proclaimed top “software development tool” for agile teams. Typically, Scrum boards are the view of choice for dev teams who need to track work based on sprints. However, Jira also provides a Kanban layout.
In the Kanban view, you get a host of settings and configurations so you can build the workflow that best suits your team. Here’s a peek at some of the things you can control and create:
“Swimlanes” or groups of issues on the issue board
Card colors and layout
Controlling task dependencies in Asana is only supported if you have the premium version. But it gives you a lot of capability, so you get what you pay for. The main goal of task dependencies is to ensure each task happens in the right order. Here’s how Asana helps accomplish this:
Highlight task B, which is dependent on task A
After task A is completed, whoever’s assigned to task B receives a notification that it’s safe to start
If your project involves a lot of dependent tasks, don’t worry. Asana shows a banner on each dependent task so it’s clear that they can’t begin until other tasks are finished. You have the option to make multiple tasks dependent on one task and vice versa to manage projects of any complexity.
Speaking of complexity, Jira can help with that, too. It provides support for task dependencies at either the issue or subtask level, whether you’re using stories or epics. The system automatically identifies and displays inherited dependencies and circular dependencies. So no matter how involved your project, you’ll be able to manage it without tying your brain in knots.
When evaluating the differences between Jira and Asana, they’re deadlocked in this category, with one exception: business rules. They each rated excellent according to our analysts for the other three features, but Jira provided automation support while Asana didn’t. That made Jira the winner for this section.
@Jira rates better than Asana for #projectmanagement requirements and tasks in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two tools.
Chances are, your team won’t be able to execute every project alone. Collaboration in the workplace has become as common as seafood restaurants in New England, making it necessary for project management software features that enable teams to work with non-company members. One such area is creating guest accounts.
Jira provides the ability to create project access for guests or external users. Options to customize privileges ensure every guest sees the right project and nothing else.
You’ll also get the ability to manage guest accounts with Asana. And like Jira, you can specify the access level a user has. Once you add a guest to a project, they can add or edit tasks, as well as assign tasks to team members and follow tasks. They also have the ability to invite other members, but they can’t delete a project.
User Groups Creation
Need to keep track of different groups? Asana lets you do that with its organization feature. An organization is a collection of everyone at your company. Within the system, it’s easy to set up teams based on project — for example, create a marketing team and IT team, who each handle projects based on their department roles.
Team members can stay on top of updates in the Asana inbox.
Asana’s settings let you control team names, manage members, change permissions or delete teams. One important distinction to remember is full members vs limited access members. Full members have greater accessibility and editing powers, while limited members only have access to specific projects and tasks. However, you can grant full access to any member as needed.
Jira also provides capabilities to create user groups, configure permissions and set access privileges. Similar to Asana, you can allow complete access or restrict it to specific projects.
Jira’s default groups are admins, core users, software users and service desk users. Admins have unlimited access and permissions, and this group includes everyone who’s a system administrator in Jira.
The last three groups are optional and most helpful if you only have a handful of users that don’t need customized access. You can delete them if necessary.
Asana and Jira both received excellent marks from the analyst team for each feature, which brought this section to a tie.
Asana and Jira tie for managing project users and roles in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.
While Asana makes it possible to build custom workflows, it doesn’t go beyond the basics.
Workflows in Jira, by contrast, are a decided strength. Statuses and transitions form the backbone of each workflow that an issue will move through. The status marks where an issue stands at any given point, such as “in progress” or “to-do.” Transitions act as the bridge that allow an issue to move through each status of the workflow.
Jira comes with default workflows that you can’t edit. However, you do have several options if you want more control:
Copy the inbuilt workflows and use them to build your own customized workflows
Start from scratch to get the custom workflows you’re after
Head to the Atlassian Marketplace, where you can import apps to shape your workflows
Jira’s workflow designer tool enables you to design and configure custom workflows, statuses and transitions.
With a range of customization options, Jira stands out as our analysts’ winner when it comes to workflows.
@Jira rates better than Asana for custom workflows in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.
Looking for some streamlining thanks to pre-built reports? Look no further than Jira. It has over 10 out-of-the-box reports that will give you a look inside the granular details of your projects. These real-time insights include:
Burnup and burndown charts
Cumulative flow diagrams
Currently, Asana doesn’t provide templates for pre-built reports.
For this feature, our two products flip-flop from the last reporting capability.
Asana helps you view summarized information a couple different ways. Timelines provide a single location where you can track projects and make modifications when you hit problems. Asana also integrates with the Instagantt app to let you create Gantt charts.
Jira doesn’t have any native Gantt charts to display project summaries. You’ll need to turn to third-party plugins from the Atlassian Marketplace. However, a quick search will turn up a range of results that should be more than sufficient for your needs.
To create custom reports in Jira, all you need to do is apply filters based on which project parameters and KPIs you want to capture. After you’ve generated a customized report, you can save it as a template to reuse later.
In Asana, the advanced search feature is your go-to tool for generating reports. With customized options, you have the freedom to monitor tasks at risk, work that requires follow-up, project progress and more via reports.
If you want a bunch of options, you’ll love Jira. It has over 30 built-in gadgets to help you configure your dashboards. You can even customize individual gadgets for users based on which details are relevant to them.
In addition, the Atlassian Marketplace has even more gadgets. Check out the full list of Atlassian gadgets for a complete overview of your choices.
And if you’re feeling creative and know your way around code, take advantage of that and develop a new gadget (or five) by creating an XML descriptor file.
On the other side, Asana removed its dashboard capability in December 2018. They replaced it with a feature called portfolios, which has more capabilities than the dashboards but is only available for enterprise users and costs twice as much.
The good news is, you can turn to third-party apps to gain the capability you’re after. Asana integrates with Screenful to accomplish all your reporting needs. With it, you can gain insights on key project metrics like sprint progress and completed tasks.
Charts and Visualizations
Asana isn’t the best choice if you love your visuals. The free version doesn’t have any charts.
However, if you pay, you can access the portfolio component — a nice option for gaining a complete view of all your projects. Quickly identify risks and drill down into individual projects to keep your entire portfolio on track.
Getting visualizations in Jira is much easier. The system comes loaded with a number of prebuilt charts and graphs that turn your data into a visual feast. These include pie charts, flow diagrams, line charts, control charts, bar charts and more.
View of a portfolio roadmap, one of the many visual layouts in Jira.
Resource Utilization Chart
Monitoring the health of your team is a critical part of effective project management. Despite that, neither of our products are fantastic enough to write home about.
However, Jira provides a pre-built report called “user workload report” to track team workloads. Basic, but it gets the job done. Asana, by comparison, doesn’t offer any such features.
Once again, Jira performed well. It earned good or excellent ratings from our analysts for everything except summary reports, where we rated it as adequate. Meanwhile, Asana didn’t support two of the six features. Jira is the better choice if reporting and dashboards are a central requirement for your company.
@Jira rates better than Asana for reporting and dashboards in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.
Jira can help with budgeting and forecasting, as long as basic capabilities are good enough for your needs. The software contains built-in features that let you track budget data and generate forecasts.
That said, comprehensive third-party tools are only a search away in the Atlassian Marketplace. Getting a plugin is a better bet if you want more functionality to manage budgets and forecasts.
Asana doesn’t have any capability to track budget and expenses.
Asana has more to offer for this area. You can get risk management abilities for any given project via custom fields that let you build an approval process for tasks. Once you have a system in place, you can use the advanced search to easily identify at-risk tasks. And the search tool enables you to build reusable reports.
If you need to manage risks and don’t want to rely on a never-ending stream of updates, this is a workable solution.
Similarly, you can create a risk tracker in Jira. You’ll do this using a combination of custom workflows, business rules, issue types, transitions and fields. If you find that lacking the functionality you need, you can — you guessed it — head over to the Marketplace. It has a number of apps and plugins that can aid your risk management strategy.
According to our analysts, Jira outperformed Asana in both tracking features. Check off Jira as the winner for this category.
@Jira rates better than Asana for tracking capabilities in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.
You can enjoy streamlined communication in Asana thanks to integrations with email clients like Gmail and Outlook. Not on the popular platforms? No problem. Asana has a workaround so you can get that integration for other email clients, too.
Jira also facilitates better project communication. The special Gmail add-on allows you to read comments and comment directly on all your project’s current issues. The system also supports creating issues and comments from any POP or IMAP email. It’s as simple as configuring an email service and handler.
Given that centralizing information is a key component of PM software, it’s no surprise Asana and Jira both integrate with document management tools such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and OneDrive. Asana does this via pre-built integrations, while Jira offers built-in and third-party plugins.
Our analysts rated both products as excellent for each of the three integration features. That leaves this category knotted in a tie.
Jira and Asana tie for integration capabilities in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.
Based on our comparison, Jira raced ahead and claimed the winner title. Though Asana eked out a win in the projects category, Jira won four of the last six. It’s a comprehensive, robust system that our analysts rated as good or excellent for every feature except summary reports and custom project templates.
Though Jira caters to developers, it’s a solid product choice for any type of team. And unlike some PM tools, it boasts a rich pool of apps and plugins you can take advantage of if the native features aren’t up to snuff.
If you’re still on the fence or wondering how Asana and Jira work in real life, you can test out both products. There’s nothing like running a system through some actual scenarios to uncover nuances that aren’t easy to capture on paper (or screen).
The basic version of Asana is free up to 15 users, giving you a lot of freedom to check it out. Just keep in mind that basic is code for limited features. However, if you want to test out the full capabilities, you can check out the free trial offer. None of Jira’s pricing tiers include a free plan, but they provide a 7-day free trial for the cloud version and 30 days of free access for the self-hosted option.
Ready to go to the next level? Our free project management pricing guide is here to help. Grab it to easily compare dozens of project management tools, including Jira and Asana, so you can get an exact picture of what your investment will be.
Which features stood out to you as most appealing in our Asana vs Jira comparison? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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