Basecamp vs Trello: Which PM Software Is The Winner?

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Ready for a software throwdown? You’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re going to compare two well-known project management software systems in a head-to-head matchup: Basecamp vs Trello.

On the surface, most PM tools probably look the same. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find a number of differences. Some solutions excel in certain areas while others don’t. And when you’re searching for the perfect solution, it’s important to know the ins and outs so you don’t end up with a system that ends up being a poor fit.

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To that end, our analyst team did an in-depth analysis to compare Trello vs Basecamp. Here’s a list of the elements we’ll focus on:

If you want to cut right to the chase, skip to the end to find out who emerged as the champion in our duel.

Basecamp vs Trello

Basecamp vs Trello: Comparing Advantages and Disadvantages

With the rate of technology advances over the past few decades, it can feel impossible to keep abreast of all the new apps popping up and startups edging their way into the market.

Trello and Basecamp, however, have been around the project management block a few times. They both offer a wide range of rich features that simplify the complexities of managing a project.

Let’s take a look at each element and how they stack up!

Projects

Project Definition and Description

Basecamp makes it easy to create projects. Once you’ve done that, the system gives you a lot of control over the details:

  • Post announcements
  • Organize and assign work
  • Chat with team members and outside collaborators
  • Set deadlines
  • Share files
  • Present ideas

The default setting for a project includes six tools: campfire, message board, to-dos, schedule, automatic check-ins, and docs and files. You have the flexibility to reorder the tools or turn them off depending on the specific needs of each project.

Trello also excels in this area. Project Managers and teams won’t have any difficulty tracking plans, individual tasks and high-level or granular progress. To start, the Trello board shows a list of general information, which contains the important details in cards:

  • The project launch date
  • An overview of the project
  • Rules for using the board
  • Responsibilities based on team member
  • Key metrics and KPIs
  • A company roadmap
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Next up is the Market Research list, followed by the Inbox, where you can manage everything from feedback to questions from a central hub. Finally, Trello has several lists that form the foundation of a project, arranged by status:

  • Backlog
  • In progress
  • Blocked or paused
  • Ready for launch
  • Live

Pre-Built Project Templates

Streamlining the work involved in a project is a central benefit of project management solutions. The ability to take advantage of out-of-the-box templates removes the need to manually create templates from scratch each time you kick off a new project.

Trello helps you in this area thanks to its “Inspiration” feature. It collects a variety of board templates, stories and sample boards from Trello’s global user base. With a view into how other project managers use Trello, you can refine your own processes or gather new ideas for creating your next Trello board.

At this time, Basecamp doesn’t offer any pre-built templates.

Custom Project Templates

Trello provides excellent support to create templates. Whether you want a board, list or card, it’s a simple matter of copying an existing element. Trello makes the process a breeze, so you can whip up whatever project templates you need.

With Basecamp, you also get the flexibility that comes with customized templates. Using the template feature, you can create a number of items from scratch, such as tasks, documents and messages.

You can also set relative dates for tasks, schedule events and turn on the campfire or email forwarding tool. One slight drawback is that you can only assign to-do tasks after you create a project and invite users.

Our first section was a close race, as Basecamp and Trello each earned Excellent marks from the research team when it came to defining and describing projects as well as creating custom project templates. However, Trello also provides pre-built options, which Basecamp doesn’t. That gives this first section to Trello.

Advantage
@trello rates better than Basecamp in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.

Requirements and Tasks

Task and Subtask Creation

Perhaps the most critical part of project management software features is the ability to break a large project into manageable chunks. That’s where tasks come in.

It only takes a couple clicks to build a task list in Trello. After you’ve created a card, you can click on the “Checklist” option, change the name to Tasks (or whatever you use) and then copy items from other cards or add new items. From there, it’s easy to add whichever members you’ve assigned to those particular tasks.

The card moves through the workflow and each time you check off a task, the completion bar updates to show overall progress.

Basecamp also allows task creation, though it’s less robust. You can assign tasks to someone on a to-do list for any particular project, team or the company-wide HQ board. Assign tasks based on due date or a date range. You can also add notes, files and images.

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Business Rules

Automation is a game-changer for teams who already have too many details demanding their attention. Business rules enable you to automate tasks that eat up time you can spend better elsewhere.

Basecamp provides this capability, though it falls on the basic end of the spectrum. The system allows you to define rules to trigger project actions based on certain events in the project. For example, when an issue changes severity or you want to automatically assign a task to a user.

Trello also gives you automation abilities via a variety of Power-Ups — their term for integrations — including Butler, Board Sync and Zapier. They facilitate setting up rules that automate specific actions, which you can define based on user. This helps your teams avoid the inefficiencies that come from having to do the same repetitive tasks.

Kanban Layout

A kanban view of tasks isn’t native to Basecamp. However, you can use third-party app integrations like Tracked, ScrumDo and MangoBoard. With an app in place, you’ll be able to track the progress of projects and to-dos as well as add labels, priorities and filters.

Trello, on the other hand, shines when it comes to Kanban views. The platform’s layout offers a highly visual way to organize your team’s work. You have the option to use separate boards each time you start a new project or dedicate a specific board to the various team activities that require execution. The board houses all your lists — the columns that organize the individual cards — giving you a straightforward workflow that makes it easy to monitor progress.

Trello Kanban Layout

View of a Kanban layout in Trello.

Task Dependencies

Trello makes managing complex task dependencies easier with a systematic approach that uses the following steps:

  1. First, create card A, which represents the main level task.
  2. Next, create checklist items on the card to store the task’s dependencies.
  3. If the task includes subtasks and prerequisites, use two checklists to divide them.
  4. For every checklist item that depends on another task, you’ll link that item to the appropriate card (B, C, D, etc.).
  5. If any of those other cards depend on card A, you need to use the attachments section to link back to card A.

If that sounds complicated, check out this brief explainer video that shows you how to do it.

Basecamp doesn’t support hierarchical to-do lists, subtasks or task dependencies. The to-do lists are simple one-level lists.

When comparing the features needed to handle requirements and tasks, Trello was the obvious winner. It outranked Basecamp for each specific element except business rules, where the two products tied.

Advantage
@trello rates better than Basecamp for #projectmanagement requirements and tasks in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two tools.

Users and Roles

In a world marked by collaboration and segmented workforces (we see you, gig economy), it’s common to manage projects that require communication with people who aren’t regular team members. For example, a marketing team may hire a graphic designer to support a single campaign.

Guest accounts and user groups are two ways project management software facilitate extended collaboration on projects.

Guest Accounts

Basecamp provides access for people on the client side of a project. In fact, the system is designed with client interaction in mind. As such, the permission settings are fairly wide. Clients can:

  • Edit or delete messages or milestones they have entered
  • Mark off, edit or delete any to-dos entered by any user
  • Assign to-do items and milestones to anyone

Trello also makes it possible to extend collaboration beyond your immediate team. You have the ability to add guest users to specific team boards. This enables collaboration without giving guests the ability to view any other team boards you have. So no need to worry about compromising sensitive information.

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When you invite guests, you have two choices:

  • Single-Board Guests, who only have access to one board
  • Multi-Board Guests, who can view and interact on multiple boards

You have full control over each guest’s status and can add them to or remove them from boards as necessary. One thing to be aware of is that, if you have a Business Class team, Trello counts anyone who has access to more than one board as a billable user. You can always change the status of a multi-board guest to a team member by adding him or her to the team from the “Members” tab.

User Groups Creation

Want a user group? Trello allows you to create teams for pretty much any category you could need, from a work project to a family vacation. This makes it easy to organize all of your Trello boards and members in one accessible location. Team admins can create an unlimited number of teams and add as many members as they want to each board and team.

Basecamp also has user group capabilities. Create teams where people in similar roles can share information with each other and stay coordinated. For example, group your sales team together for more efficient communication.

Basecamp Project Teams

Basecamp makes it easy to manage the team members for any project.

The one drawback of Basecamp is that you can’t add clients to teams. While they can have access, you won’t be able to add them to your teams as if they were a member.

Trello earned Excellent ratings from our analysts for guest accounts and user groups. Basecamp managed Good and Adequate ratings respectively, making Trello the winner here.

Advantage
@trello rates better than Basecamp for managing project users and roles in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.

Custom Workflows

Basecamp supports basic workflow customization. Comprehensive options aren’t available at this point.

To provide custom workflows, Trello uses an integration called Workflows for Trello. It allows users to define a workflow schema for their board, putting constraints in place that limit card transitions to and from specified lists.

You can also turn to other third party tools like Screenful if you want support for managing custom workflows in Trello. These options gave Trello the upper hand for this feature.

Advantage
@trello rates better than Basecamp for custom workflows in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.

Reports and Dashboards

Pre-Built Reports

Basecamp provides pre-built reporting activities. You have several categorization options, including:

  • Latest activity
  • Overdue to-dos
  • Upcoming dates
  • To-dos added and completed,
  • Team member assignments
  • Team member activity

Trello Plus does not come with pre-made reports or charts for common cases. However, integration with some third-party apps like Easy Insight provide reporting functionality.

Summary Reports

Need to generate a summary report? Trello offers the ability to provide an overview of all activities, due dates, checklists and more. The way it accomplishes this is using a card or board view combined with filters.

Basecamp supports spanned milestones and events, which you can use as the foundation of creating Gantt-style charts. It also integrates with the Ganttify app to build Gantt charts using the information in your various projects.

Custom Reports

If you want extra control over reporting with Basecamp, you’ll need to look outside the solution. The only way to generate custom reports is through integrations such as Easy Insight, Domo and eazyBI. However, these add-ons provide you with a range of robust reporting capabilities.

Easy Insight_Basecamp Dashboard

Integrating Basecamp with Easy Insight provides a broader range of reporting abilities.

With Trello, you have a couple choices. The software provides several third-party tools like the Report for Trello Chrome extension and Easy Insight app for creating custom reports. These enable you to generate scrum, kanban and time reports but don’t offer a ton of capability.

You can also create reports manually. If spreadsheets don’t make you break out in hives, the Google Sheets export function is a good option. Or you can export Trello data to Excel — however, you’ll need a Business Class account to do that.

Dashboards

Trello allows you to build a dashboard view for any of your project’s boards and fully customize the layout based on the data that’s most important to you. Kanban and Scrum are the main views. You also have the option to add pages and widgets.

On the Basecamp side, you’ll once again need to rely on integrations to get the features you want. The good news is that Basecamp integrates with many third-party tools like eazyBI, Domo, Geckoboard and Easy Insight.

Charts and Visualizations

Keeping your finger on the pulse of a project is way less stressful when you have visual ways to organize and track information. The bigger the project, the more important charts become.

Elegantt Deadlines Chart

Example of a deadline chart created using the Elegantt Power-Up for Trello.

Trello provides users with multiple plugins and Power-Ups to make the solution work for you. Here’s a list of what you can create:

  • Gantt charts
  • Burndown charts
  • Time-tracking charts
  • Scrum and Kanban charts
  • Cumulative flow diagrams
  • Cycle time charts

It doesn’t stop there, though. If you want extra flexibility, APIs enable you to create custom charts that you can shape to your individual needs.

When it comes to charts, Basecamp takes a unique — and exclusive — approach. Its Hill Chart gives a quick, flexible visualization of where a project stands and what questions need answers in order to keep things moving. It lets users figure out where to jump in and troubleshoot as well as provides a real-time, high-level view of project progress.

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Resource Utilization Chart

If that term sounds technical, don’t worry. It’s just a fancy way of talking about how you keep track of and best use your resources — primarily your team members. Despite the importance of effectively managing the workload of your team, neither of our solutions stands out as an all-star.

Basecamp doesn’t provide a pre-built, interactive way to track workload across team members.

Trello also fails to provide a native chart. However, it supports a few third-party apps that add this capability. Look into Ganttify, Reports for Trello, Corrello and Plus for Trello to get the resource management you need. You can also take advantage of a Trello API to create custom reports for tracking resources.

Which software was the victor for reports and dashboards? They tied in the area of custom reports, and Basecamp had the advantage with pre-built reports and visual tools like charts. Meanwhile, Trello rose to the top when it came to resource charts, summary reports and dashboards. For that reason, we named Trello the better choice.

Advantage
@trello rates better than Basecamp for reporting and dashboards in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.

Tracking

Budget and Forecasting

Once again, Basecamp’s built-in functionality doesn’t offer features to handle this aspect of financial management. However, it does integrate with many third-party tools like Harvest. This gives you control over project budgets and accounting.

Trello helps users to track their budget within the system. Like some other features, it uses cards to provide the functionality.

You can create lists and then assign individual cards for fixed bills such as monthly rent and utilities. It’s also easy to track paychecks, variable bills and expenses list. Simply type the amount into the description and then use the due date feature to keep track of the timing. Trello also provides the ability to label cards so you can see which bills you’ve paid.

It’s a manual approach, no doubt. Depending on the complexity of your finances, it may not be feasible to update every detail by hand.

Risk Management

Basecamp doesn’t have an integral feature to manage project risks. If this is one of your must-haves, you’ll need to look to another product.

In contrast, Trello allows you to manage a project log where you can track issues, risks, change requests and action items. It only takes a few steps to build a project issue log using boards and cards. Record each issue as a card and set the status to get a visual, at-a-glance view of where things stand and which issues require immediate attention. You can choose whatever color scheme works best. Here’s one option:

  • Green for open issues
  • Yellow for issues that are at risk
  • Red for any issues that require attention
  • Blue for the issues you’ve closed

While both products ranks similarly for budgeting and forecasting, Trello alone provides options for risk management. That made it the clear winner for tracking features.

Advantage
@trello rates better than Basecamp for tracking capabilities in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.

Integrations

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Here too, Basecamp and Trello enable you to connect to your CRM software. The main difference is that Basecamp collaborates with many integration vendors like Zapier, automate.io and Bsync that allow the platform to integrate with popular CRM softwares. Meanwhile, Trello provides seamless integration with Salesforce and Zoho CRM.

Email Clients

Streamlining is the name of the game when it comes to PM software. And plugging your email into the system will save you from toggling back and forth hundreds of times each week.

With Trello, you get an add-in for Gmail and Outlook. This bridges the gap between your boards and inbox by letting you create new cards directly from your inbox.

Basecamp also integrates with popular email clients like Gmail and Outlook through Zapier and other vendors. One handy feature is email forwarding, which allows you to forward any email into Basecamp, discuss it with your team and directly reply to the original sender. Seamless communication, anyone?

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File Storage

Keeping with the efficiency theme, Trello and Basecamp offer integrations with all the popular file storage applications such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and Box. The one difference is that Basecamp provides a pre-built feature to link cloud files from, while Trello goes the typical integration route.

Basecamp and Trello both did well on the integration front. Our analysts ranked the CRM integration as Adequate in each case. For email, Trello edged ahead, while Basecamp did better for file storage. Consider this section a tie.

Advantage
Basecamp and Trello tie for integration capabilities in SelectHub's research & analysis of the two #projectmanagement tools.

Who Wins the Basecamp vs Trello Battle?

Each of our competitors has a lot going for them. They’re both popular solutions that provide support for a range of project management demands. Overall, however, Trello is a more robust software. It supports more features than Basecamp does and earned Good or Excellent ratings from our analysts on over half of the specific elements we looked at.

That said, we always encourage you to hold a product up to your company’s requirements when examining its value. The perfect project management software isn’t the one that has all the top user reviews and analyst ratings. It’s the one that most closely aligns with your particular project management needs while still providing exceptional PM capabilities.

A chief consideration is always price. No point considering a system if it’ll leave your budget decimated. To that end, we created a free project management pricing guide. Get a clear picture of what your investment will cost — no matter what platform you end up selecting. Here’s to choosing the right PM software for your company!

Which product in our Basecamp vs Trello comparison sounds like a better fit for your company? Let us know in the comments!

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Top Competitors for Basecamp and Trello

Jira
Cloud: starting at $10 flat fee for 10 users
Server: starting at $10 flat fee for 10 users
Data Center: starting at $6,000
Smartsheet
Starting at $14 per month for single user
Zoho Projects
Free up to 5 users, paid starting at $20 per month + tax
Mavenlink
Starting at $19 per month

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Wrike
Free up to 5 users, paid starting at $9.80 per user per month
Teamwork Projects
Free up to 5 users, paid starting at $9 per user per month
Monday.com
Starting at $29 per month up to 5 users
Microsoft Project
Cloud: starting at $7 per user per month
PC license: starting at $560 per licensed user
Airtable
Starting at $0 – $10 per user per month
Asana
Free up to 15 users, paid starting at $6.25 per user per month
Zachary TotahBasecamp vs Trello: Which PM Software Is The Winner?

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