Freaky Fun Fridays with Technology: Basecamp

Basecamp Project Management Tool enables teams to increase productivity and efficiency, improve organization, communicate more effectively, and achieve these and other benefits while holding fewer meetings. However, as the company says on its website: Basecamp is more than just a project management tool — it’s a better way to work.

Fewer meetings and a better way to work? You won’t find a business that wouldn’t be thrilled with those outcomes!

Basecamp 1, 2, 3 — Which Is Best for Your Needs?

There are three versions of Basecamp. The Classic version of Basecamp Project Management Tool launched in 2004, in part as an alternative to the Microsoft tools that dominated the project management software market at the time. Eight years later, in 2012, the company released Basecamp 2. Two years after that, Basecamp 3 was released.

All three versions are still in use today, and all are solid systems with a variety of tools for helping teams manage workloads and resources, and get high-quality work done more quickly. Basecamp’s features include:

  • Message boards for posting announcements, providing progress updates, sharing ideas, etc.
  • To-do lists for keeping track of action items, assigning responsibilities, and setting deadlines
  • Shared schedules to help stakeholders stay on top of important dates using iCal, Google Cal, or Outlook
  • Shared documents, spreadsheets, images and other files that can be organized in folders for easy retrieval
  • Group chat functionality that allows users to communicate informally including asking random questions
  • Automatic check-ins, which are recurring questions like “What did you work on today?” that help people stay informed without bothering their teammates and can reduce or eliminate the need for status meetings

At a high level, each Basecamp Project Management Tool version has a set of attributes that define it. Basecamp Classic is not particularly visually appealing, but it brought to the field of project management features like a project overview, messages, to-do lists, a calendar, writeboards, and file sharing. Interestingly, Basecamp was one of the first tools to walk away from a staple of project management, the Gantt chart.

Basecamp Classic is no longer promoted by the company, as they want organizations to move on to Basecamp 2 or Basecamp 3, but there are still some that use it.

Basecamp 2 has a more aesthetically pleasing interface that leverages flat design (no drop shadows on design elements, for example) and better use of color for a better user experience. Maintaining many of the features of Basecamp Classic, Basecamp 2 added new functionality like Everything, a tool that breaks up all activity in the system by categories, making it easier for users to find information.

Another feature called Progress provides a highly structured chronological history of activity. And one of the biggest advances in Basecamp 2 is the introduction of the ability to create third-party integrations to systems like Toggl, Zapier, Zoho, and Automate.io.

With Basecamp 3, the company placed an emphasis on collaboration. For example, Pings are instant messages that can be used to get fast answers to important questions. A feature called Hey! is a catch-all messaging inbox, and Campfires are group chats. The company also added a new, “lighter” calendar function called Schedules while allowing for integrations to connect the system with more feature-rich calendars if needed. Basecamp 3 also allows to-do items to be assigned to multiple users, which can be very helpful.

A number of factors go into choosing your Basecamp Project Management Tool version—features, price point, etc.—but ultimately, it’s about what will work best for your organization.

Our Favorite Basecamp Features

At Azence, we use Basecamp 2, as it aligns with the needs of our clients. Some of the features that we get the most out of include:

  • Message Board. When we start a new project, this feature allows us to have a discussion about it, including introducing the client to Basecamp. It’s also a great place to collect all the conversations about a particular task, like the design of a specific page of a new website.
  • To-Do List. We use this feature to give our team members lists of actions items, but we also assign “homework” to our clients here.
  • Our project managers use this feature to ensure that tasks are completed and projects and people stay on track.
  • Docs & Files. Every project has important documents, graphics, videos, and other files, and this feature helps us manage them all efficiently in one place.
  • Project Templates. We’re big fans of process automation, and templates we’ve created make it more efficient to get new projects up and running.

We also use Basecamp to keep business owners and executives informed about the progress of projects and to allow managers to stay on top of the to-do items of others and see when tasks are overdue. For task masters (our designers, photographers, etc.), the system makes it easy to see what’s assigned to them and when tasks are due, and also to submit drafts for review.

Ultimately, Basecamp Project Management Tool helps us run our business more effectively, and many of our clients have found it does the same for them.

Let’s Touch Base About Basecamp!

Could Basecamp help your company do a better job of reaching your business goals? The answer is almost surely, “Yes!” Contact Azence at your convenience and let’s talk about your project management needs.