Basecamp Project Management – Why this is a good tool for Project Management
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, and now 4 — Which Version is Best for You?
There are four versions of Basecamp paid subscriptions that are marketed as products of Basecamp, even though 37status (maintained by the parent company) will show more Basecamp versions. Basecamp Classic, the first 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. We’re not quite sure when Basecamp 4 was launched but according to 37Signals, the parent company of Basecamp, it appears to be somewhere around Dec 2022.
All four 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 core 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, write boards, 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. At AZENCE, we’ve integrated Toggl to our Basecamp so we can track hours our contractors spend per project.
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.
Watch our Video Webinar on Basecamp Project Management to learn about the pros and cons of using this as a Project Management Tool for business.
4 of 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, the Basecamp Project Management Tool helps us run our projects more effectively, and many of our clients have found the collaboration and communication so useful that they are implementing Basecamp for their projects too.
At AZENCE, all client projects are managed using Basecamp 2
Yes, we’re old school. That’s because we’ve been using Basecamp since 2013. And since a significant portion of our clientele are 50 years and older, we’d like to keep things simple for them. And since we’ve retained some of our clients since 2012, it’s probably a good idea not to switch things up on them. We’ve found Basecamp 3 to be a little more technical for our senior clients and some of the upgraded features aren’t as key to be worth the upgrade.
Could Basecamp Project Management Tool help your company do a better job of project managing your tasks? The answer is a definite, “Yes!”. Obviously, there are other popular and just as good project management tools out there such as Asana and Trello but for AZENCE clients, we found it best to stick with the simplicity of Basecamp 2.
However, we are in the process of transitioning to Basecamp 4 so we can take advantage of the latest and greatest features of Basecamp. More of this when we have more to report! Check back to find out how our transition to Basecamp 4 is going.
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