Basecamp - Great tool for managing projects

 

In order to ensure a great product, the next game changing innovation, or to develop that new concept that enhances everyone's life, it becomes imperative that everyone on the team has the tools to be both successful and to work together towards a common goal. A search on the Internet reveals a multitude of both enterprise and open source application options for managing projects. After a lot of research into finding the best application for project management, it was decided that the Basecamp project management tool was the best one to use for all of the MakerCreation projects.

In line with what MakerCreations is trying to accomplish, Basecamp is made of various talented individuals from around the world. Along with it's main office in Chicago, Basecamp “is a company spread out across 26 different cities around the world.” As will be the case with most of the MakerCreations project team members, many of the people working at Basecamp are doing their work remotely. With this type of diversity, Basecamp brings a unique perspective to their project management application, and it also allows them to understand the needs of working remotely on a project.

The most important aspect of any project are the people involved, and Basecamp provides easy tools for bringing people into a project, and giving everyone the necessary access and tools for working together as a team. In line with the MakerCreations projects objective, each project team will be setup in Basecamp to include only those individuals who are part of a particular project. This project access function will help to reduce unnecessary chaos and ensure sensitive project information remains with team members only. MakerCreations project team members will be added to their respective Basecamp project(s) by responding to an invitation email and setting up their individual account. Once team members have been setup at Basecamp, they can be added to all current projects they are a part of.

Basecamp has numerous tools to help all team members work together and stay organized throughout a project. We will talk about these valuable features, but everyone is encouraged to check out the guides available at Basecamp.com to get full details on all of these great tools.

Ongoing discussions are a vital part of any project, and Basecamp provides a great Discussion tool for allowing all team members the ability to keep up with what's going on, and to add their own comments to the discussion if desired. Project discussions can be created at anytime to get team input for whatever may be relevant at the time. Along with stand-alone discussions, discussion threads can be added to all email messages, to-do list, files shared with the team, and events setup by the team. Clicking the Discussion link on any project page will bring up all current discussions, and can be sorted by either last updated or oldest. Discussions can also be filtered by using the Basecamp filter field feature. Discussions can also be archived to take it off the Latest Activity feed, and any archived discussions can be reopened if desired by anyone on the team.

Along with team discussions, a to-do list can help organize who is responsible for different aspects of the project. Basecamp has made adding to-do list to any project easy, and all project team members have the ability to add to-do list to a project. On the main Project page there is a [Add a to-do list] button that can be clicked to start a To-do list. Once a To-do list has been named, team members can assign a to-do to someone and add a due date, and the dated to-dos will appear on the Project calendar that is part of the Events page. When a to-do is assigned to someone, they will receive an email notification, and anyone with an open to-do will get an email the day before it is due. Files can also be added to a To-do list by selecting the [Attach files link] when setting up a particular To-do.

Many projects will require files to be shared among project team members, and the Basecamp app has made that easy too. Images, spreadsheets, PDFs, and any other relevant file can be added to the project by selecting [Add files] from the top-right of the Project page. Size limit for a single upload is 10GB. There is also an option to email team members the file during the file upload process. Along with being able to attach files for To-do list, files can also be attached to comments and messages. PDF files will be shown right away on Basecamp, and most video and sound files will play immediately. (depending on browsers and file types) Basecamp lets you view files in a grid or list, and files can be sorted by type/label, file size, name, and upload date. Other features such as download, delete, filter, and rename allow all files to be managed as each team member wishes.

Basecamp also provides an Events page that lets all team members see all the past, present, and future events and open to-dos for each project. This calendar of “Events” can be seen by selecting the Events page on the main Project page. New events can be added by clicking on a calendar date. The To-dos that show up on the calendar are added through the To-do feature. Along with the Calendar view, an Agenda view is also available by selecting the appropriate link on the Events page. As mentioned earlier, discussions can always be started for any event.

This was a quick summary of the many features available on the Basecamp application, but it's highly recommended that everyone go to basecamp.com and explore all the features and options available. There are also some great videos for getting started, and Basecamp offers free classes for more in depth knowledge.