(Yes, I know I have already used the Dr. Strangelove subtitle joke on a previous blog but Kubrick is worthy of repeat allusions.)
We have been using 37signal’s Basecamp for years now but I have not recognized its brilliance until recently. There are plenty of other reviews and recommendations of Basecamp out there, so I just wanted to throw a couple of features that pushed it over the top for me.
One fear I had in switching over to using Basecamp for all our development projects was how difficult I thought it would be to get all the people I need to communicate with on a project, from co-workers to clients, to be willing to buy into using this system. What I underestimated was how easy it is to get clients and co-workers to simply begin replying to emails I send them, instead of “composing” new messages.
Basecamp uses an ingenious system integrating email with the Project Management, so people involved can reply to emails sent from Basecamp and it threads the message in the relevant Project and Message, and also sends the message via email to all the other collaborators. So if I begin a project in Basecamp and start any thread about the Project, all the other collaborators don’t need to be “on board” with Basecamp. They can continue to communicate with me by just replying to my emails and it all stays organized in Basecamp without me having to become a 37signals evangelist.
I also underestimated how much clients would love Basecamp. I had always assumed that trying to get clients to use a proprietary Project Management System that they might not be familiar with would be an uphill and endless task of integrating every new client. However, everyone I have worked with and used Basecamp extensively to manage their project have commented on how much they love the organization of the system.
First of all it is easy for them to jump into using it, as I described above. But it also lets all relevant collaborators clearly see how a project is going and when the ball is “in their court” on a task. This makes up for my deficiencies in adequately communicating the progress of projects on occasion, or simply miscalculating the frequency with which individual clients or even collaborators would like to be contacted. All relevant parties can login and see the status and progress of all the action items they are privy to, without requiring my (sometimes lacking) ability to inform them.