I was recently contacted on Twitter by @AMcDermott asking what I now used instead of Basecamp. I was at first a tad confused as I had not said anything about Basecamp on Twitter for some time. He then pointed me to a post I wrote a few years ago on my old blog –
Welcome to the new basecamp, now with less features.
I said I would write a follow up and here it is. First of all, I still have to use basecamp, or at least I work on a number of projects where we still use it, but now it gets used for one purpose and one purpose only – communication.
As I said back in 2012 it is no longer possible for you to realistically run a project from Basecamp it just lacks too many things you need. What it does still do incredibly well is ensure that there are no conversations going on in some emails somewhere meaning nobody can see what’s happening. If we run a meeting for example will create a new discussion where we’ll put down the feedback points, or anything of note that we want to make sure everyone can see and remember.
We’ll upload files for a project when we want them to be reviewed by an external team, and I do tag them, although the tags are completely useless.
What we don’t use it for
Quite simply, anything else.
I haven’t looked at the Calendar in Basecamp since 2012. I’ve tried to use the to-do’s a couple of times but without alerts and warnings on them what’s the point? Nobody is going to see them.
Time Management for me is done in Toggl, a great time keeper with a lot of deep features. It’s quick to punch in and out or block add and the desktop app is now working wonderfully on Mac.
I use Trello a lot for setting up the tasks on a project and the team working on the task will use the comments on the card to discuss it. Trello is still the best new app (bar Slack) for project management at a task level.
Speaking of Slack, if I can get the right client and project to try this out with I may well put forward the idea of ditching Basecamp entirely in favour of Slack for communication. It is an excellent workflow and its integration with various other services means that you really can have a central place for all information on a project. We’re currently using it on a project internally at Clearleft and have everything hooked up. When a member has pushed something into git, you get an alert so you can go grab it, when a card is updated or moved in Trello, Slack tells you. It is meaning that we don’t have to have a dozen windows/tabs open and I’m really enjoying that.
I don’t know what major changes we’ll see this year now that 37Signals have chosen to rebrand as Basecamp focussing solely on their now eponymous app, but it could see a shift back to being a dominant feature in project workflows. Until then, I’m continuing to phase it out.