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Shortcut vs. Linear: Choose the most collaborative, scalable software project management tool for product managers

Erika Carter

Shopping for a software project management tool can be overwhelming. But if you’ve made it to the second sentence of this blog post, it can be assumed that your inner voice, or the outer voices around you, are telling you that you need a new software project management tool.

Or the voices are telling you that you need to switch from Linear, or Trello, or Asana, or Clickup because those tools just aren’t working for you for a myriad of reasons - like you need something more than a general project management tool, or something more than just to-do lists, or something that’s more suited to product teams especially.

Or your team of software engineers is telling you that they’re all going to quit if you keep making them use Jira.

Or you’re just hearing voices.

Regardless, let us help you not be confused about your software project management options, or at least two of these options: Shortcut and Linear.

Hey, we’re not trying to tell you what to buy. In fact, you don’t have to buy anything, because Shortcut offers a free trial.

But sometimes it’s helpful to have a side-by-side comparison of project management software in the written word. And one thing we try to do around here is be helpful.

Linear, in a Nutshell

In a nutshell, if that’s what you’re looking for, or if you like pistachios, Linear is a lightweight issue tracking and development tool. Linear is made for small software development teams working on relatively uncomplicated projects.

Linear is attractive upfront for task management because of its simplicity, but it lacks the features and flexibility to support development organizations as they scale.

Smaller software teams may like Linear because of their low-maintenance structure and easy interface, but the tool is not very product friendly. Linear’s concept and approach doesn’t always resonate well with general project managers, product managers, or other non-technical team members.

Linear works for projects that do not need extensive tracking - the ability to zoom in and out of individual pieces of work to see how they rollup to larger company-wide initiatives - reporting, or other more powerful features.

Shortcut: Lightweight and Powerful

Shortcut is a lightweight as well as powerful project management tool for software teams as well as your entire organization - from engineering to product to design to marketing and beyond. For product folks especially, Shortcut is more valuable than Linear.

Shortcut makes collaboration easy, providing the functionality, metrics, and reporting all teams need, while also allowing teams to track their work and see how their work connects to and rolls up to larger company goals and initiatives.

Most importantly, as your organization grows, Shortcut can scale with you.

Let’s break all this down a little further.

On Product Managers and Scaling

Linear’s lack of organizational hierarchy - there is no concept of Epics to connect Stories across Teams and Projects - means that teams can’t grow their processes as they scale.

This lack of organizational hierarchy is fine for a small team working on less complex projects. But for growing companies with multiple teams and especially product managers, a fixed organizational hierarchy allows their processes to scale and allows for process complexity.

Shortcut scales with your company - from teams of just a few people to organizations of 70 and 80 plus, to organizations with thousands of employees. With Teams, Fields, and updates to our Data Model, we are making this even easier.

Take Thirty Madison, for example, who scaled with Shortcut during their explosive growth, tripling their revenue in 2020, and tripling their workforce right alongside it.

Now, in 2022, they employ more than 350 people, with 80 of them being engineers. For comparison, pre-pandemic, they employed only 12 software engineers.

They switched from ZenHub, which is built on top of GitHub issues, to Shortcut in order to eliminate redundant work, provide better views of what was going on across company-wide initiatives, enhance cross-team collaboration, eliminate silos, and scale effectively.

On collaboration and driving teams to common goals 

It’s hard to see how individual pieces of work roll up to larger company initiatives in Linear. The tool really doesn’t factor in the importance of product managers at all.

Also, Linear does not support tasks associated with issues, and Milestones are a categorization bucket with limited value.

Milestone bucket with limited value

Shortcut, by comparison, makes it simple for software teams to relate how their everyday Stories and Tasks are contributing toward larger company goals using Epics, Milestones, and Roadmaps.

Shortcut Roadmap

On visibility 

Linear takes a minimalist approach to the views it does offer in its workspaces and does not provide filters and saved views for speedy access.

This prevents organizations from keeping everyone on the same page and zooming out from Milestones to Stories.

Shortcut, on the other hand, provides multiple views with filters and saved views, as well as timeline views.

In Shortcut, you can quickly create a Story for any task, chore, feature, or bug.

These Stories roll up to Epics and track against Iterations, Milestones, and Roadmaps.

This means you can zoom into these individual Stories, then zoom out to see at-a-glance how they track against company-wide progress.

On  integrations  

Linear customers are expected to create their own integrations for time tracking, testing, file access, calendaring, and roadmapping.

Shortcut’s VCS integration offers several ways to associate Shortcut Stories with your VCS' feature branches or commits, as well as automated ways to change the workflow state of a Story as your work progresses.

Shortcut customers have access to over 30 integrations including Slack, Figma, Google Drive, Sentry, Zendesk, Productboard and more.

You can also create your own integrations with Shortcut’s API.

On analytics 

Linear lacks dashboards, cumulative flow charts, and time spent in workflow state visuals.

Guess what? Shortcut has all of these things, with keyboard shortcuts and kanban boards to boot, making reporting and tracking goals easy. This is important for product managers and other stakeholders.

On customer support

Linear is a team of about 16 with no dedicated support personnel to ensure customers are getting the most out of the platform.

Shortcut is a growing team of 80 Shortcuteers working in 8 countries across the world, with dedicated customer support, customer success, and customer education teams to make sure you’re set up to get the most out of our platform.

Pricing

You can do much more in our free version of Shortcut than you can in Linear’s free version.

There are no teams, for example, in Linear’s free version, and there is also a 250-limit on issues.

Features

Here is a list of some features Shortcut has that Linear does NOT have:

  • Flexible task assignment
  • Quick filters and status views
  • Multiple agile visualizations
  • Configurable spaces for collaboration
  • Bulk actions and full markdown
  • File sharing
  • SOC II Type 2 & 2FA

In another nutshell

How fast is your organization growing? When shopping for a project management tool (whether you want to or you have to), think about the requirements for a high-growth start-up, and the benefits of choosing a platform that can scale at the same speed as your company.

Linear might look easier to manage and use upfront, but it becomes incredibly limiting in real-world software companies. It lacks the features and flexibility that powers teams to build fast and collaboratively.

Empowering collaboration is one of the best things about Shortcut. The platform's Teams, Epics, Milestones, and Roadmaps bring people from across the company together to accomplish goals and initiatives. Accomplishing goals is apparently kind of important in business.

In another nutshell - a nutshell inside a nutshell, if you will - organizations choose Shortcut because it provides a highly intuitive and streamlined work management platform. Shortcut allows brands to quickly get Stories into the Workflow, get new features into development, and ship better products.

Far be it for us to make decisions for you, but if it helps to see Shortcut in action, start your free trial now.

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