Basecamp for your poject

In one of my previous blogs I listed some really fine and affordable tools for managing your projects. Here I am including something that I must have included but missed out. Anyhow, I am sure you would like to know more about it once you go through below article.I like Basecamp for 2 reasons. It’s not only a great example of making a complex process simple through good web application design, plus it’s a very useful service.

In my last post on project management I mentioned how you can use blogs as a great project documentation, organization and collaboration tool. Today I am going to talk about a web service that has been built just for project management by the guys at 37signals called Basecamp.

As you would expect from a tool built to aid project managements, there are features for discussion, collaborative documents, project tasks and scheduling, plus you can create users with appropriate permissions.

There are various pricing levels, starting with a limited version at $0 (my favorite price!). You can do a lot with the free service, in fact you might not need more in a small one-off project. The main limitation is you only get two Writeboard documents, which isn’t too much of a restriction really. Depending on how many simultaneous projects you have on the go you could get away with the next level up which is only $12 a month and is well worth it considering what you get for the money. You can stop paying at any time, there are no minimum contracts.

RSS Subscriptions
An especially nice feature is your team members can subscribe to various feeds to keep up to date, plus there is a shared calendar that works very well with iCal. A huge part of project organization is getting everyone clued up on the latest changes and milestones so this works very well.

There is basic messaging built in to the system. If keeping track of who said what becomes a burden, one additional service that I have heard good things about but have yet to try is HighRise. It’s a CRM and message tracking service from the same people that integrates with Basecamp projects.

One Problem
You might tell already I am a big fan of Basecamp. It just works and you don’t have to spend ages explaining to people how to get around and do what they need to do. That said, now I have used it for a while, there is one big limitation, and that is with the project milestones feature.

When I first checked out Basecamp I was expecting to be able to do away with Microsoft Project. Unfortunately if you want to do a good job of a decent sized project, I think Basecamp is a great addition to but not replacement for the Microsoft product.

For example, critical to good project planning is being able to take account of what order tasks have to happen in. Dependencies can have a massive impact on both timing and outcome. The ability to run tasks in parallel shortens project length while knowing this can’t be done until that is completed is vital. With only milestones and to-do lists you could be missing a key piece of information so the project chart is only useful for sharing what you have already worked out in Project or on paper if you are really old-school.

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