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What is Basecamp & How I use it

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I was introduced to Basecamp, which is a project management software, during one of our board meetings and wanted to find out more on how it will benefit our team. Please click: http://ridz.sg/blog/2010/08/what-is-basecamp-and-how-i-use-it to read more about this online collaboration.

I've been using Google Docs for many of our department projects and wanted to break down the benefits of each here:

Google Docs:

  • User creates a document (word processing, spreadsheet, etc.) and the document "lives" in the cloud.
  • User invites other users and gives them certain privileges (read only, edit, etc.).
  • The doc is always available since it "lives" in the cloud.
  • Multiple people can be editing and/or viewing the doc at the same time - nice feature if two or more people are collaborating on a conference call and working on the doc at the same time.
  • Users can export the doc to MSWord format, for example, if the user wants to get it onto their desktop.
  • Feature set is good but is pretty basic - enough so that some users may not have all the cool features that they enjoy on their desktop apps.
  • Biggest benefit is that many users can see and edit the document from many locations at any time since it's living in the cloud.
  • Biggest downside is that some of the more advanced app features from desktop apps may not be available.

Basecamp:

  • User creates their document on their desktop and uploads a copy to Basecamp.
  • User can specify who can see and download the document.
  • Users who want to work on a document download it to their desktop and then upload it again when they are done. Users can specify whether or not to send an email notification when a new revision has been uploaded.
  • Basecamp allows you to see previous iterations of the document - all versions are stored permanently.
  • Basecamp has tons of nice project management features: basic project calendar, allows you to set up and assign milestones to specific dates and people, alerts assignees when a milestone is imminent or is past due, assign To-Do's with deadlines to individuals, track hours worked.
  • Stores threads of conversations (messages) in a central location so all project-related conversations are easy to find.
  • Nice email notification features when changes are made to project components.
  • Iterative storage of project-related docs.
  • Available apps for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.
  • $24/month pay as you go vs. Google Docs which are free, but if you are needing some project management features then the price is WELL worth it.
  • Biggest upside: great project management features, very easy to set up and use, love the pay as you go (no long-term contracts), nice conversation thread management, nice email reminders.
  • Biggest downside in comparison to Google Docs: If users need to collaborate and edit a document simultaneously someone will need to set up a webinar (free for up to 3 people using Acrobat Connect, though there are several other free and paid screen-sharing software apps out there).

I guess it ultimately comes down to preference in choosing a platform that best works for your team.

7 Comments

Thanks Didi this is really useful. --Ann

Hi Didi,

Excellent post! Very helpful how you broke out features.

I have been using Basecamp for project management and collaboration for more than four years now and have come to appreciate (read: become addicted) to using it to help keep a complicated work life in order.

That said, it is not a fit for all purposes and all people. It really depends what you need to do and the work styles of the team.

For example, I used it with my project team for the U's President's Emerging Leaders (PEL) program last year, and it was a good way for a group of 5 professionals in different fields and units at the U to connect regularly. We used it to formulate our weekly agendas, share files and info (go-to place), create milestones/deadlines on the calendar, collaborate on docs. We didn't use it so much for conversations -- that we left for our weekly in-person meetings. The collaboration aspect was more about having everyone know the same stuff and build on what we've done, vs. debating a topic -- always better in person! It helps give a general awareness of what others are working on, and a go-to place to dump those to-dos (to-do list) and thoughts (text document) and screen captures (discussion with files attached) as the need arises.

I want to clarify something on your last bullet. The "text document" (formerly "writeboard") feature on Basecamp acts more like a wiki or Google doc, wherein multiple people can make edits to the same document at the same time. The major difference is it is not a nicely formatted document -- it is about the words. Anything worked on in a Basecamp "text document" would need to be converted to Word, InDesign, etc. if you want it in a nice format. But, it's great for collaborating on the raw content.

Basecamp is also web-based, so you can access it anywhere. Which can come in handy. You can also archive a project when it is done. And if you are removed from it, you don't see it anymore whereas old Google docs require some proactive cleanup! (e.g., if you switch jobs)

I would say one advantage on Google docs is that it's a part of being a U employee to have access to Google docs, so more people are familiar whereas Basecamp is a new user interface with which people would need to become familiar. So if you are just sharing documents, Google docs is good.

If you want project management functions than Basecamp (or other project management program) is probably a better fit. I have been on groups that have tried Moodle and Google sites, which also work but take more effort to get going and can be a bit wonky in terms of interface.

Hope that helps!
Rebecca

One addition is that I have found Basecamp very helpful for managing student assignments.

I think you might find this paragraph added by Rebecaa Noran helpful regarding an uploaded word doc:

I want to clarify something on your last bullet. The "text document" (formerly "writeboard") feature on Basecamp acts more like a wiki or Google doc, wherein multiple people can make edits to the same document at the same time. The major difference is it is not a nicely formatted document -- it is about the words. Anything worked on in a Basecamp "text document" would need to be converted to Word, InDesign, etc. if you want it in a nice format. But, it's great for collaborating on the raw content.

Hope that helps with what you're planning to do...

Salut, Je suis Jacques et suis nouveau ici et si trouve ce site tres interessant. J'aimerais apporter quelque eclaircissement à l'article originele svp.

Mijn naam is Jake en ik heb een nieuwe baan werken voor een ondernemer. Ik heb een ton van de dingen die ik niet weet en ik dacht dat jullie me helpen. Ik heb een vriend die vroeger / gebruik dit forum en hes briljant. Ik zal waarschijnlijk het grootste deel van mijn tijd aan het lezen en niet een heleboel posten, hoe dan ook, dat is me bedankt voor het toestaan ??van me om hier te zijn.

Have you ever tried proofhub? If not, you should give it a look. Has all the features that are missing in new basecamp like time tracking, gantt chart, group chat and lots more. http://www.proofhub.com

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  • Arlen Mark: Have you ever tried proofhub? If not, you should give read more
  • Emile Melley: Mijn naam is Jake en ik heb een nieuwe baan read more
  • Marlin Pastrana: Salut, Je suis Jacques et suis nouveau ici et si read more
  • Didi: I think you might find this paragraph added by Rebecaa read more
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  • Rebecca Noran: Hi Didi, Excellent post! Very helpful how you broke out read more
  • Ann Nordby: Thanks Didi this is really useful. --Ann read more

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