Project Manager's Dream Come True
January 11, 2014
Project Manager's Dream Come True
Score 9 out of 10
Latest as of 1/10/14
Overall Satisfaction with Basecamp
We use Basecamp across our entire agency for managing digital projects. We have a full-time staff of account managers, creative directors, and designers, along with a network of freelance designers and developers who work with us remotely. It's very difficult to communicate revisions, manage deliverables and timelines, and share files with everyone who is working on the project. Basecamp helps me, as the project manager, keep everyone in the loop on the progress of different pieces of the project, make sure client revisions are relayed to everyone involved, and keep an updated calendar of due dates.
- Easy and organized communication. The discussion threads allow you to choose who on the project is receiving a message, sends everyone involved an email, and keeps a record of all attachments. The user interface is intuitive and quick, and I can go back to threads months after the project is over to find a file or look at a specific comment.
- The calendar is clear and well-organized. I can add all events months in advance and easily click and drag deadlines as they inevitably change.
- The "home page" of each project is a great overview of the status and is incredibly user-friendly. They've clearly gone through multiple iterations to figure out the best layout of the dashboard and improve the organization of features, and it shows.
- I'd like to see better integration of the calendar and a deliverables list. They have "to-dos" in a separate section, but there's no easy way to link a deadline with the deliverable that accompanies that deadline. It would be great if the message thread could link to the deadline and deliverable so you didn't have to switch between features to see the complete picture.
- One of the great features of the discussion threads is also one of Basecamp's weaknesses for me. When responding to a discussion, the default recipients are those that received the last response on the discussion thread. When you respond quickly, it's not obvious who is receiving this email. So if someone else removed one person from the thread earlier in the discussion, that person won't receive further communications. It would be helpful if you had to "approve" the distribution list before sending so it was clear who would be receiving your response.
- As I mentioned in my positive reviews, Basecamp keeps all files that have been uploaded over the course of the project. It's a great resource for going back and finding previous files. It would be helpful if the "files" section of the project was organized my discussion thread, so you'd have more context for the file. As it stands, they're organized by date, which is helpful but could be improved.
- By keeping all files in a single location and organizing feedback on these files in a clear way, Basecamp has had a direct impact on the time I (the project manager), the designers, and the developers spend on administrative tasks (like organizing files, updating a calendar, setting up conference calls, etc.). It has probably reduced the amount of time spent on indirect project tasks by 50%. This, to me, means that everyone on the project is focusing on the work itself for 90% of their time (as opposed to 80% before), instead of using their time worrying about the project organization.
- Basecamp has definitely improved communication between team members. There are virtually no instances of miscommunication on client feedback while we're using Basecamp. If we weren't using the software, there could be 3-4 times over the course of 3 months where feedback was lost in an email thread or not received at all. Since Basecamp keeps a running log of communication, you can always go back to it as a reliable method of communication.
- After a project is over, I find myself compiling working files and storing them on our servers. I used to spend hours hunting through my inbox for these files to put them into order and organize them in my personal files. Basecamp does this for me. It reduces my time spent archiving by ~5 hours per project.
Basecamp is very helpful for projects with a lot of moving parts. If you're trying to coordinate multiple groups of people who don't normally work together, or who are not in the same location, it provides clarity and an easy "go-to" place to check on the status of multiple deliverables. It's especially helpful for project managers to communicate deadlines and feedback if there are multiple parts of the project running side-by-side. It may not be helpful for simple, shorter projects, as it could add an unnecessary level of complexity. The key question to ask in choosing Basecamp, I think, is if you will have trouble keeping track of different people working on different parts of a single project simultaneously, and if communication would be difficult over email alone.
When I bring new people onto a project, it's immediately obvious how to use Basecamp. I don't have to worry about teaching them the features or walking them through it, it's just incredibly user-friendly. For this reason, I'll continue to renew my subscription even as new people are brought onto production jobs or the client changes.