What is Basecamp?
Every product within the project management software industry has a unique value proposition. Some are packaged and developed to appeal to tech-savvy users while others are touted to be especially suited to creative industries. Basecamp is branded as “Everybody’s favorite project management app by virtue of its simplistic design, easy navigation and basic features.
Basecamp was launched in 2004 by 37signals. Leveraging the trend of remote collaboration and understanding the fact that it doesn’t cover advanced user requirements, Basecamp has invested in supporting a large number of APIs. Many users are enticed by the sheer variety of integration options available. Basecamp as a project management platform lies in a “sweet spot” where it provides the most essential project management features in conjunction with simple collaboration and document sharing options. It is affordable yet efficient.
A Ruby-on-Rails version of Basecamp was launched in 2012 and this makes three distinct flavors of the app available in the market. Basecamp Classic is the “old is gold” version launched in 2004. Basecamp (also branded as the New Basecamp) is an improved variant with more features launched in 2012. Basecamp Personal is a reduction of the 2012 version in order to offer a very streamlined tool for personal project management.
37signals is an advocate of one-account login, very much like Google as users can switch between all subscribed 37signals products from one central dashboard.
Who uses Basecamp?
Basecamp has a quirky sense of style and a very informal feel to its interface. It regularly makes use of attractive visuals and irreverential sketches to leave users in stitches. On average, around 5,000 teams join Basecamp every month and 2013 saw 2,000,000 projects completed to satisfaction. Basecamp is a favorite of innovative entrepreneurs and the majority of the users are small business ventures and startups on their way to expansion. The creative sector uses Basecamp in unique ways to complete simple to reasonably challenging projects.
A look at a case study featured by Basecamp clarifies the scope and size of the projects considered ideal for this project management tool. KEEN footwear is a proud Basecamp success story. They use salvaged material to construct their stores and serve a highly niche buying space. They saw an 8 month project involving 40 people to the finish line based solely on the power of the features offered by Basecamp. The main goal of the project was to organize the store design and acquire new fixtures. The involvement of the IT Team was non-existent. As the project matured, Basecamp provided simple tools like a synced Calendar, custom to-do lists and a great sense of community to foster creativity.
This obviously doesn’t rule out a technical project from succeeding on the platform, but more often than not Basecamp users are innovative individuals with out of the box thinking, great leadership ability, and a more relaxed informal work culture.
What is the learning curve to Basecamp?
Basecamp describes itself as “famously easy to use” with one of the main reasons behind their popularity being the simple and clean interface. Without bombarding the user with too many advanced features, an uncluttered interface enables quick and enthusiastic company wide acceptance of the platform. Since Basecamp offers a “Be a Basecamp Pro in 30 minutes” training series, users can grasp the basic features within half an hour.
Training materials are available for Basecamp. Belle Communication’s Tuesday Toolkit is a blog written by Basecamp evangelists that illustrates how advanced features can be accessed and used effectively. Basecamp also offers “Weekly Classes” and “Live Q and A” to stay connected with users. The exhaustive Frequently Asked Questions, ebooks, and videos educate users about different aspects of Basecamp, transcending features and discussing subscriptions and productivity. The book “Basecamp for Beginners” by Todd Kelsey is an authoritative book and covers the tool comprehensively.
What are the most popular features of Basecamp?
Basecamp has a number of popular features. To-dos allows creation of lists with specific tasks for individual team members. These lists support addition of task details and other attributes. Collaboration and discussions give users the ability to keep all discussions pertaining to a project in one virtual account. Dates and milestones allow managers to set up milestones with due dates and assign these to team members. Notes is an upgrade from the Classic version, which allows team members to jot down details of projects in the form of comprehensive notes. Supporting a wide variety of formats, Basecamp allows all files and documents of a project under one virtual roof. There are other more advanced options and these can be properly capitalized upon after sitting through a training session or a trademark Basecamp webinar.
Does an internal IT department need to help support Basecamp?
No, they do not. Before investigating the IT support issue it’s important to understand the type of application Basecamp is. Described as an “in-cloud” project management and collaboration tool, it doesn’t have to be deployed on premise to start working. Interested companies simply purchase a subscription account depending upon the number of projects lined up for execution and the team member count.
As a result, the issue of IT support is rendered moot to a large extent. Basecamp claims that everything is taken care of at their end as they constantly strive to ensure security of data, server up-time and overall reliability and customer satisfaction.
The Basecamp website itself offers exhaustive FAQs and the minor tech issues which crop up from time to time can be sent to the dedicated support team via a ticket for resolution. Less than 4% of all Basecamp users choose to contact support over the course of a month and this bodes well for small teams with no IT staff.
What are the alternatives for Basecamp?
Alternatives for Basecamp can be both free and paid. This is largely because of its reputation of being “simple” and “streamlined” that allows even freeware to compete for its market.
Alternatives for Basecamp need to be organized into two groups. One pertains to applications with more or less similar features and abilities but with tweaks and improvements to make them flexible and the other pertains to more nuanced and richer tools especially for people looking to upgrade in terms of functionality yet stay away from the complicated hassles of MS Project or Oracle SAP.
Free & comparable Basecamp alternatives include Smartsheet, Asana, ActiveCollab, LearnDash, and Storm. Richer Basecamp alternatives include WorkZone, Wrike, Clarizen, Zoho, and CentralDesktop.