Basecamp 101

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  • 11/27/2017

    We recently wrote about utilizing project management tools in order to help manage your client’s expectations. We often use Basecamp, however it took trial and error to determine what worked well and what didn’t work so well. Now that we’ve ironed out our process, we’re sharing our tips on how to effectively use this tool.

    An advantage of Basecamp is that it’s robust, yet customizable. Basecamp tools include Message Board, To-Dos, Docs and Files, Schedule, Automatic Check-ins, Email Forwards and Campfire. To customize your own dashboard, click on “Settings” in the upper right hand corner and select “Change tools.”

    A disadvantage of Basecamp, or any project management tool, is that work can easily be duplicated. Similarly, when using multiple tools there are often unclear expectations of what information belongs in Basecamp vs. Outlook vs. your internal calendar (and any other tools being used).

    Overall, depending on the project at hand, your management style and what other systems/tools are being used, some of these features are more beneficial than others. See below for our opinion on features to keep and features to ditch.

    Features to Keep

    Between the Message Board, To-Dos and Docs and Files, these three features are adequate for most projects.

    • Message Board – Use the Message Board for all communication in place of email. However, treat every message like an email by including a subject line and tagging all of the people that apply.
    • To-Dos – Use To-Dos to organize work, make assignments, discuss specific tasks and set deadlines.
    • Docs and Files – Use Docs and Files to post all deliverables and supporting resources.
    Features to Ditch

    Let’s face it. A disadvantage of Basecamp is all of the additional emails that come along with it. Professionals receive an average of 122 emails per day and the features listed below can easily and quickly increase that number.

    • Schedule – Basecamp recommends using the Schedule to note due dates or milestones and to organize meetings/events, however this can all be done using To-Dos.
    • Automatic Check-ins – Basecamp recommends using Automatic Check-ins to regularly ask your team questions and get their answers all in one spot, however Basecamp will automatically send a similar recap email to every user on a daily basis.
    • Campfire – Basecamp recommends using the Campfire to quickly bounce ideas around with your team, to chat casually, or to get quick answers, however this can be done using the Message Board. Additionally, using both the Campfire and Message Board can cause confusion.
    • Email Forwards – Basecamp recommends using Email Forwards to keep your team in the loop by forwarding any emails to Basecamp, however as long as email isn’t being used in the first place this tool should not be needed.
    Additional Tips

    Once you determine what features to keep and what features to ditch, be sure to communicate these expectations to your team for the most effective use possible. No one wants to duplicate work and it’s important that everyone understands where to communicate, how to locate deadlines or upcoming meetings and where to find deliverables or important resources.

    Set the expectation for Basecamp to be checked periodically throughout the day. Anytime you check email, be sure to check Basecamp too. If Basecamp is being checked on a regular basis, users can modify personal notification settings to reduce the amount of automatic emails and notifications that easily clutter up inboxes.

    Overall, Basecamp can be an extremely helpful tool as long as it’s used correctly and clear expectations are set.

    Let us know if you have any questions or view here for additional Basecamp support.
    About the author::Corina Rolko is a Project Coordinator at thunder::tech. While supporting the Account Services Department and Business Development Team, her main focus is day-to-day project management and coordination with clients, department managers and production team members. While not coordinating organized chaos, Corina can be found at Target, or Title Boxing Club or watching the Tribe.
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