Basecamp Project Management for SME's Review

July 6, 2010

 
After starting my project management career 10+ years ago, learning to hand create gantt charts and critical path analysis, I was delighted to move on to Microsoft project but quickly found the pitfall of spending as much time managing the project management software as managing the actual project. Zip on a few years and different careers, I’m back to being more involved in project management, and have recently been introduced to Basecamp, an online project management tool. It’s been around for a few years, constantly evolving to include new features with the aim of making life simpler managing in-house and client projects. Plus points of Basecamp so far:
  • Very simple to use – there is no learning curve to setting up projects, milestones and to-do lists
  • It’s relatively inexpensive – there are 4 pricing plans & a 30 day free trial
  • You can manage as many projects as you like & get an overview of all projects in one place
  • It is a collaborative tool – you can give access to elements or all of the projects to different team members across different companies
  • The writeboard and the ability to comment on tasks & upload files is really good as it keeps all related documentation in one place.
Downsides of Basecamp:
  • Basecamp features a bold statement on their homepage from one client “It’s so simple, you can’t do anything wrong” – I beg to differ, having managed to lock myself out and remove my admin privileges within 1 day of using it (thankfully, another member of the toinfinity team dug me out of that mess.
  • It lacks the useful critical path analysis – ie. project sticking point
  • You can’t set how many days/hours a task should take in advance, only that a task must be completed by a certain date
  • There isn’t a simple print out feature – sometimes you’ve just got to see stuff on a bit of paper!
Fortunately, having project management experience helps get over the negative aspects of the tool, and with a bit of tweaking and syncing with outlook I can be sure all tasks are managed on time and delivery dates are met. Overall, I’ve found Basecamp to be very useful but it is early days and look forward to re-evaluating it in the coming months as some projects come to their finale and others begin.

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