If you work in web project management today, you are most likely dealing with digital content. Some project managers come from design or development backgrounds, but more often than not, they have little training in the world of digital. As someone who comes from a design and development background, here…
Basecamp at it’s very nature is a simple, straightforward, no nonsense Project Management online software. Basecamp is ideal for small to midsize web projects in the web design, web development, ecommerce development or other digital marketing or digital projects. While Basecamp may be “simple” to some, it’s flexibility is unrivaled in the industry. Here are a few things to consider.
The Beginnings: 37signals launched Basecamp Classic back in 2004. It was extremely lightweight only offering a handful of features. However the one thing that 37signals did create was the industry of online project management. While creating Baseamp, they also released the framework they created to write it: Ruby On Rails. 37Signals’ founders (Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, Erneset Kim) also wrote bestselling books, which focus on the message “Keep things simple, stupid” (the KISS principle) and on how to run business in a sensible manner. I have read Keeping It Real about 10 times and I STRONGLY recommend you read it. It will make you think about a few internal processes that you do on a daily basis that are just plain wrong. Buy Keeping It Real on Amazon.
The inner workings of Basecamp allow you to create projects, tasks, to-do’s, discussions and notes. The beauty of the software is that there is only so much you can do with it. The flexibility comes from you and your team. If you need to place an “URGENT” message into a to-do, DO IT IN TEXT! Create a tag to signify is important. An example to-do would be “[URGENT] Please go to The Digital PM Facebook and like their page [1 hour scope]”.
Projects. You can create projects for each project type. I typical take the billing (quickbooks) title or the estimate name and place it in the as the project. This will allow a 1 to 1 comparison for your team and your client for work = dollars. In this example you can use, KEEN Retail: General, KEEN Retail: Project 1, KEEN Retail: Project 2. This will allow you to add stakeholders to one project without seeing important or sensitive data in another project.
Stakeholders: It is very simple to add the proper stakeholders to your project. You can invite your internal team to one side of the project and there is even a segmented “client” invitation so you can “hide” certain conversations from the client. I’ve used this when the conversation might get confrontational or create a long drawn out conversation with my internal team. The client is most likely already stressed with the project so hide things when you can (it is a simple checkout box selection) to stop the unnecessary stress.
Project Messages & Discussions: The best part of about Basecamp is documentation. You can start a thread in 2013 and continue it through the months all the way till today and still be able to search and find previous conversations. In the world of web project management, with 20 concurrent clients or more, if it is not written down we will most likely forget about it (or the client will forget about it). I have used the messages for many different aspects of PM. Design reviews, internal scope conversations, billing updates, tutorials, and more. By design messages are an empty slate.
Full Project in One Place: The holistic view of a project is a thing of beauty. The real beauty of Basecamp is the centralization as you can see in this screenshot. All discussions, information-dissemination, scheduling, task-assigning, and questions live alongside the project. This will cut down on the ambiguity of “Where is this and that?”
- Manage several projects at the same time. This really helps when you have several projects that directly influence each other.
- Deploy resources to a project only when they are needed. This improves efficiency and effectiveness and helps reduce costs.
- Keep all the documents and conversations you need for a project in a single place where you can easily search, tag, and share them with everybody involved.
- Basecamp does not provide any reporting tools, which could make analyzing your data and making informed decisions about projects a bit difficult. However, if you are just looking for a software to help you keep your tasks organized and and on track, Basecamp would make a good choice.
- Basecamp does not support milestones (very well), and so there is no way to track these major events from within the system. Milestones can be very useful for keeping your projects on track, so if you’re looking for a software with this capability, it would probably be wise to consider other options. While there is a calendar feature, it is very lack luster.
- Pricing is relatively in expensive. $20 will buy you 10 projects and 3gb of space (but for the most part you can use Google Drive or Dropbox for large files). See the additionally pricing below.
Who can use it?
- IT / Digital Project managers
- Web Developers
- App developers
- Traditional static project management
If you have any comments or feedback on this post: “Product Review: Basecamp”, I would love to hear them. If you have questions, feel free to respond as well and I will try and respond to all your inquiries. Please review all The Digital PM posts by going to the homepage.