Wrike vs Asana: Choosing the Best Project Management Software for 2021

Asana and Wrike both feature prominently on most roundups of the best project management software, but choosing between the two can be tricky for the uninitiated. In this piece, we’re comparing Wrike vs Asana on their major selling points so you can more easily decide which is better for you.

Fergus O'Sullivan
By Fergus O'Sullivan (Editor-at-Large)
— Last Updated: 2021-02-14T22:19:53+00:00

While shopping around for the best project management software, you can’t get around Wrike and Asana. Both are well-known, powerful task management tools with a large following. To help you choose which is the better for you, we’ll be comparing them like only Cloudwards can, in a Wrike vs Asana battle — though this battle is more about pocket protectors than mouth guards.

Key Takeaways:

  • Both Wrike and Asana have excellent free plans. We like Asana’s a little more, but both are worth trying out.
  • Wrike has excellent reporting and time-tracking features, while Asana shines in regular day-to-day use.
  • Asana is a lot more pleasant to use than Wrike, thanks to a much more colorful interface.

If you’re looking for the short answer, we recommend Asana for most people, most of the time. We go into depth on this recommendation in our full Asana review, but for us, it boils down to usability, functionality and price. As you can read in our Wrike review, it has plenty going for it in these departments, too, but it just lacks a bit of oomph in most cases.

That said, both of our contenders bite the dust against our favorite project management tool, monday.com. In both our Wrike vs monday.com and our monday.com vs Asana articles, our reigning champion fended off its challengers easily. If neither Wrike nor Asana rings your bell, though, give monday.com’s 14-day free trial a shot.

  • Overall, we prefer Asana over Wrike. It’s easier to use, has more features and is priced a little better. Wrike still has a lot going for it, though, especially if you need detailed reports.

  • Wrike is a solid project management solution with great security and even better reporting capabilities. We like it less than Asana, but it’s not bad by any means.

  • Asana was founded by Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, who worked for both Facebook and Google as an engineer. Its beta first launched in 2011, and it’s expected to go public at some point.

  • Though the answer will differ according to your needs, overall, monday.com is the best project management software around. It’s easy to use, has a ton of functionality and has very friendly pricing.

Setting Up a Fight: Wrike vs Asana Project Management

We’ll be comparing Asana vs Wrike over five rounds, which correspond to the main criteria in our project management reviews. To avoid a massive, rambling article, we’ll be sticking only to comparing the most important features. If we’re missing anything, either check out the individual reviews or let us know in the comments, and we’ll get back to you.

1. Features

We start by talking about our two contenders’ features, or what they can do. Asana is the winner here. Not only can it do more, but it does it better, as it spreads its features out a bit more evenly over its plans — though that gets us a bit into the next section, on pricing. Wrike still has a lot going for it here, mind you, but more on that as we go along.

First, the similarities: Asana and Wrike do a lot of things the same way. The best way to enter and assign new tasks is through the list view, though Asana is way better here than Wrike. This is because, for some reason, Wrike split the functionality of the list view as seen in Asana — and for that matter, monday.com — into two views (read our monday.com review).

asana project manager list view
Asana’s task list is a colorful affair that gives you amazing oversight at a single glance.

Instead of giving you a single, massive overview that you can arrange to your heart’s content with custom fields and nice colors — great for aesthetic purposes as well as organizational ones — Wrike uses its list for input and bare-bones oversight. It also uses its table view (which it confusingly also calls a spreadsheet here and there) for a more comprehensive rundown.

wrike asana spreadsheet view
Wrike’s table view isn’t as easy to manipulate as Asana’s list, nor nearly as colorful.

Kanban Boards & Gantt Charts

For some drag-and-drop action, both Wrike and Asana also offer kanban boards and, thankfully, the news here is better, with Wrike even outshining Asana a bit. In our ranking of the best kanban-based tools, we even rank Wrike a bit higher, simply because its aesthetic is a little better suited for it.

asana wrike kanban board
Wrike’s use of negative space is great for a kanban board.

In the last of the mainstream project management views, both contenders make use of Gantt charts, which let you see the relation between tasks and set task dependencies. Both do a decent job here, though neither is a TeamGantt (read our TeamGantt review to find out what we mean by that).

wrike Asana timeline
Asana’s timeline is a very colorful take on the Gantt chart.

Much like with the lists, Asana’s Gantt chart strikes us more, thanks to its riot of color. However, Wrike’s is better, for a few reasons. For one, because it’s more traditional, you can see how much time subtasks will take in the overview. The second, more important reason is that you can set dependencies within tasks and decide if they come before or after. It works really well.

asana wrike gantt charts
Wrike’s Gantt charts lack a graphical presentation of dependencies, but that’s where our criticism ends.

Wrike vs Asana: Calendars

The last view we’ll talk about is the calendar, which Wrike takes a little further than most of its competitors. Asana does the standard thing, using it mainly for seeing when things are due and how long things are going to take. If you read our Trello review, you’ll see that’s not something to take for granted.

wrike asana team calendars
Asana’s calendar view is nice and basic.

Wrike, on the other hand, has one of the most versatile calendars around. Not only can you just view dates and what is to be done by then, but you can filter it on several levels, as well. We really like it but wish Wrike had put some of this oomph into its overall usefulness.

Other Tools & App Integrations

Besides the main views, Asana and Wrike offer a large number of extras and doodads to help you manage projects. Wrike’s biggest draws here are its reports and its time-tracking abilities. Few, if any, project management tools are its equal here, and they make up for many of Wrike’s flaws.

asana wrike reports
Though it doesn’t look like much, Wrike’s report screen will tell you everything you need to know about what your team members are doing.

Asana also offers reports, and good ones, but nothing at the level of Wrike. Much the same goes for time-tracking: Asana offers it in the form of the Harvest app, and it’s pretty good. However, Wrike has it fully integrated into all tasks, making it a very interesting option for accountants, lawyers and anybody else that bills by the hour.

High-End Features

So far, the round has been fairly even, with Asana maybe falling behind a bit. However, that’s only until we start looking at Asana’s high-end features, which propel it well into the upper echelons of our roundups, including the best project management software for small business. For instance, you can set long-term goals for your company and team and see how far you’re on the way to achieving them.

Better yet, Asana makes it easier to manage multiple projects, thanks to its portfolios, a tool that gives you a top-down, detailed overview of how projects are faring. Wrike has something sort of similar with its reports and folder trees, but Asana is light years ahead in this regard. Asana also manages team members better, thanks to the workload function.

wrike asana workload
Asana’s workload view lets you see which team members are doing too much and who too little.

Integrations

On a final note, we much prefer how Asana handles integrations. While it does more advanced integration on higher tiers, you’re not locked out below that. On the other hand, Wrike only allows certain add-ons on certain tiers, meaning if you want to have Salesforce tasks show up, you need to shell out for the higher tiers or go without it.

Overall, while Wrike has a lot going for it, Asana is the better option when it comes to features and functions. It has more, and it all works a little better, except maybe for time-tracking and reports. Wrike’s biggest flaw in this regard is the way it splits up the list into two views and it really can be a pain to use because of this.

Round: Features
Point for Asana
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Visit Asana1

2. Pricing

When it comes to pricing, we’ll also declare Asana the winner, but by an even narrower margin than in the preceding round. While Asana is pricier overall, we feel its enhanced usability and better user-friendliness justify the extra cost. That said, we realize this is a little subjective, so let’s take a look at some hard numbers.

How Much Does Asana Cost?

Below the pricing table of Asana, but for the full breakdown, check out our article on Asana pricing.

Free
  • Details: Up to 15 users
Premium
  • Details: Price is per user. unlimited users, expanded features
1-year plan $ 10.99/ month
$131.88 billed every year
Save 19 %
Business
  • Details: Price is per user. unlimited users, even more features
1-year plan $ 24.99/ month
$299.88 billed every year
Save 18 %
Enterprise
  • Details: Custom pricing, advanced security features

How Much Does Wrike Cost?

Below an overview of how Wrike prices its plans, but for the full breakdown, check out our Wrike pricing article.

Free
  • Details: Maximum of 5 users. Basic features.
Professional
  • Details: Price is per user. Plans for 5, 10 and 15 users.
1-year plan $ 9.80/ month
$117.60 billed every year
Save 29 %
Business
  • Details: Price is per user. No monthly option. Plans for 5 to 200 users.
1-year plan $ 24.80/ month
$297.60 billed every year
Enterprise
  • Details: Plans for 5 to an unlimited number of users.

Value for Money

For now, we’ll focus on the paid, small business plans, which are fairly comparable. Asana’s Premium plan is $11 per user per month, while Wrike’s Professional plan is just under $10 per user per month. This dollar and change will buy you a lot, though. You get better features and more usability as well as a few nice extras (read our monday.com pricing article for a similarly priced tool).

For example, Asana features unlimited file storage, a rarity even among the best cloud storage providers. You could always just hook up a free Google Drive account to Wrike or Asana (read our Google Drive review to find out why), but having unlimited storage is always good. It also makes Wrike’s more limited selection (starting at 2GB and working its way up to 100GB) stand in shrill contrast.

This trend continues with the Business plans, where Asana is again a tad more expensive. Again, though, we figure it’s worth the extra money per user per month, thanks to the nicer features Asana offers. That said, Wrike does have its calendars at this tier, which may be a major draw for you.

The Wrike and Asana Free Plan

Of course, we can’t discuss either contender without mentioning their excellent free plans. Both feature prominently on our best free project management software roundup, and both are really good. 

In both cases, you get a basic, but fully functional project management tool that will suit any small team just fine. Still, four our money, we like Asana’s free plan a little bit better than Wrike’s free plan because it has unlimited storage.

That said, we recommend you give both free plans a spin, as they’re, you know, free, and serve as an extended trial of its basic features. For the more premium stuff, both Wrike and Asana have a free 14-day free trial of their top-tier plans, so you’re not losing anything but some time if you decide to give either a whirl.

Round: Pricing
Point for Asana
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Visit Asana2

3. Ease of Use

When it comes to user-friendliness, we’re giving yet another point to Asana. Wrike is easy to use — we like how it organizes folders and projects, for example — but none of its benefits weigh up to the fact that the interface is quite ugly. Asana’s UI, on the other hand, is a colorful affair that gives you all the information you need at a glance.

As we talked about in the features section, the main interface of Asana is the list view, which just works very well. It’s colorful, meaning you can find tasks easily, and you can quickly see who is doing a task and when it’s due, as well as a host of other details. If you’re looking for more drag-and-drop functionality, you can always head to the kanban board.

wrike asana kanban
We don’t like the Asana kanban board as much as Wrike’s, but it is a lot more colorful.

Overall, this whole process is smooth and easy. If you need to switch between multiple projects, you can do so from either the main screen or, if you’re on the Business plan, from the portfolio. Whatever you do, Asana makes it easy.

Wrike Ease of Use

Wrike is also easy, but for some reason, we found ourselves clicking back to an overview screen more than with Asana. It’s a minor thing but happens enough that it becomes noticeable and annoying. Other than that, we liked using Wrike, and it makes cycling through projects pretty easy, thanks to its old-school file tree structure.

asana wrike folder tree
Old school is the best school. Seriously, though, Wrike’s ease of use makes it work like a charm.

Many of the most important points we have already gone over in the features section. However, there’s one we’d like to bring up now, as it strongly affects Wrike’s user-friendliness: the color scheme. As you may have noticed in the screenshots, Wrike is drab. It feels like its design influence was Soviet-era furniture, and using it for any length of time gets to be a bit depressing.

Though we like Wrike well enough, it could take more than a few leaves from Asana’s book to improve the user experience. As such, the round goes to Asana.

Round: Ease of Use
Point for Asana
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Visit Asana3

4. Security & Privacy

With three rounds in Asana’s pocket, there’s no way for Wrike to win this battle. However, it will score a quick point, thanks to having slightly better security. Both services encrypt your files at rest with the AES-256 cipher and use TLS when files are in transit. In short, you’re all good on the security front, but Wrike’s edge is that it uses its own servers for storage.

Asana, like pretty much everybody else in the game, uses AWS for file hosting (check out our Trello vs Asana article for one example). Though AWS does a decent job in many ways, there is a persistent problem with its buckets leaking like a sieve. Generally speaking, this is a problem that’s perfectly presentable. However, as Wrike seems less willing to let your security be dependent on an admin getting enough coffee at any given time, we’ll give it the point here.

Wrike vs Asana Privacy

However, both services have dodgy privacy policies. For example, Asana feels free to sell free users’ data, while you could drive a truck through the holes in Wrike’s privacy policy. In both cases, the data is anonymized, lessening the pain somewhat, but still sends shivers running down our spines. Still, though, that’s the price of free, and at least the data doesn’t say it’s you.

Round: Security & Privacy
Point for Wrike
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5. Customer Support

We’ve now come to our final round on customer service, where both Wrike and Asana shine, thanks to extensive knowledgebases, solid forums and decent support. While in both cases, the chat will usually just spit out a link to an article about the problem you’re having, the articles in each knowledgebase are thorough and easy to read, so you should be fine.

The forums are also lively, filled with both fellow users as well as employees, so even if existing articles can’t help you, you should be able to find some support. As far as we can see, most serious issues are taken seriously when a post is made.

We do want to make special mention here of the Asana Academy, which is a set of lessons that will get you to a high-level understanding of both Asana and project management if you put in the time. We really like this approach and wish more companies would invest in users like this. As it’s extra, it doesn’t really affect the tie we’ve given for this round, though, and it stands.

Round: Customer Support
No clear winner, points for both
Visit Wrike2
Visit Asana4

Final Thoughts: Wrike vs Asana

With that final whimper, we’ll end this Wrike vs Asana comparison. Wrike scored just one point, making Asana the clear winner. However, it won none of its rounds resoundingly, meaning there’s still plenty of room for Wrike in most organizations, depending on how you’ll use it. For general use, though, Asana is your best bet.

Winner: Asana

That said, both services offer generous 14-day free trials of their top-tier software suites, so if you’re still not sure, we recommend giving them both a whirl. You’re risking nothing but time by doing so.

What do you think of these two services? Has Asana’s color scheme won you over, too, or are you drawn to Wrike’s reports? Do you have any questions or concerns left unanswered after reading this piece? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.