Basecamp Project Management Review

Basecamp Rocks! There, I said it. If you’re a project manager, or web developer of any kind, researching collaboration software or other kinds of project management software you’ve no doubt run across 37Signals’ Basecamp Project Management system.Truth is, it has gained quite a following amongst developers, but it is a very capable project management system for any project or company Summary (yes it’s at the top): If you’re looking for an online project management program that is very quick to learn (for everyone on your team), allows you to store files, and record time, and ALSO can be used to communicate back-forth with your customers use Basecamp! If you need something a little more powerful, and client communication is NOT a vital need for your organization – don’t. But, it will drastically reduce communication time and can help squeeze the communication hierarchy (watch out account executives!).  The Bad Well, before I get to the meat of this review I thought I would quell some of the bad press out there about Basecamp. Although they have had some problems, we have now used them over the course of the last 2 – 3 years and the program has performed phenomenally. Without getting into too much detail, sure the program doesn’t contain EVERY feature, but that’s the point, it’s simple, intuitive and our customers are easily able to communicate with us through it – quite a feat!  Powerful enough to meet our needs, simple enough to be easy to use for our customers.  Interface BasecampBaseCamp’s interface is very clean and VERY simple. even when you have dozens of projects, each with information, updates, files, etc. the program is organized with minimal clutter allowing you to quickly see what’s going on, or immediately drill down to only what you absolutely need to see. As far as web apps go, it certainly isn’t the prettiest, but this is allow about usability, not glitz. Basecamp rocks for its simple, intuitive navigation and clean presentation of data.  Time Tracking and Recording Basecamp allows you to record time! If you are a web development company and you are not recording your time, first of all, what the hell are you doing? At Atilus we record our time for a number of reasons: to track the progress of a project (based on initial client expectations and contracts), to track employees, and to track our pricing for services (and adjust overtime according to our data). Everything is recorded. And, Basecamp’s open nature allows you to easily do this. You can track time for everything and anything, or not at all. Their time report exports (CSV) also make it easy to manipulate the data for additional manipulation and insight into your business and customers. How much time is spent on average for the setup of a blog, or the implementation of a pay per click marketing account? Easily determined with basecamp’s time tracking.  Pros:

  • Very Simple
  • Editable
  • Completely Open Format (no strange rules)

Cons:

  • Time Reports Are So Simple, You Have to Manually Create More Advanced Reports (through manipulation of CSV data)
  • Editable – people can forget to add time, add later, or change down the road

Collaboration Not at the top of our list, simple because I saw the TIME tab first (basecamp is open right now), collaboration is supremely important – at least for our use of a project management system. For years we were having communication problems. I receive about 200 emails/day, and despite being a neat freak when it comes to my mailbox (keep it clean of all large files, organized, and delete/archive old messages) my mailbox is still hovering around 2GB. Crazy! Stuff gets lost, misfiled, etc. And, when communicating through someone else on a project – account executive information can really get misplaced or muddled.  Basecamp solves this problem. You can provide your client an account and allow them access to any number of projects (particularly helpful for developers working beside marketing agencies). Send a message through the simple messaging interface and !voila! everything is recorded. The addition of reply-via-email (messages sent through basecamp can be replied via email and immediately the response is posted as a comment to the original message) was a more recent edition that really kicked up the collaboration factor. Clients no longer even NEED to login to use the system. They simply respond to the message you send to them via email and everything is tracked and recorded for everyone to see.  Plus, for more private messages, you can make sure that only you and your team to see with one click!  Finally, the Writeboard interface allows you to collaboratively edit documents (word-like documents) and track changes among all those who edit.  Pros:

  • Incredibly easy interface for development team AND CLIENTS!
  • Ability to respond via email, eliminates need for client to login (and allows attaching of files)

Cons:

  • None

To-Dos & Tasks One of the most important parts of any project management system involves assigning tasks to people in your company or organization. Basecamp excels at this in the simplest way possible. You can create to-do/task lists (with a set of tasks) at will, track time per list and specific task, and your team can even communicate back to you via comments on each task. Additionally, Basecamp offer Templates so that you don’t always have to re-create the same set of tasks on recurring/similar projects.  Basecamp

Pros:

  • Simple task management
  • Comment function on each task (team can communicate back to you with specific questions if need be)

Cons:

  • Cannot assign specific deadlines (date/time) other than by including it in the body or text of your task

Overall: Pros:

  • Very Simple
  • Editable
  • Completely Open Format (no strange rules)
  • Incredibly easy interface for development team AND CLIENTS!
  • Ability to respond via email, eliminates need for client to login (and allows attaching of files)
  • Simple task management
  • Comment function on each task (team can communicate back to you with specific questions if need be)

Cons:

  • Time Reports Are So Simple, You Have to Manually Create More Advanced Reports (through manipulation of CSV data)
  • Editable – people can forget to add time, add later, or change down the road
  • Cannot assign specific deadlines (date/time) other than by including it in the body or text of your task

 

Basecamp is a great online collaboration system to connect all members of your team with your clients.

Zach Katkin
Zach Katkin
Zach Katkin is the co-founder & CEO of Atilus. He is a Certified Google Professional, author, and lover of technology. He helps Atilus stay out ahead of online marketing trends and loves driving results for Atilus' clients.

Leave a Comment

 

Recent Comments | 16 Comments
  • adama
    Reply

    Three years going by never to return…

  • Randall Flagg
    Reply

    What are the best small business situations which basecamp is most applicable?

  • Compliance Monitoring
    Reply

    It’s fantastic at managing todo lists, assigning tasks, and even logging a bit of time, but once you start to have dependencies or need more/advanced collaboration, it’s just lacking a few things.

  • Internet Marketing Training
    Reply

    Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog and I check up here often.

  • Ppo Plans
    Reply

    This looks like it could be really helpful. I’ve never heard of it, so I doubt our programmers are using it at all. I’ll show this to them to see what they think.

  • Bulk SMS Services
    Reply

    EXCELLENT!
    Thanks for posting, definitely going to subscribe!
    See you on my reader. Please come visit my site,
    BULK SMS SERVICES
    when you get time.

Recent Posts

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.