Why we use Basecamp (a project management tool)

by Aaron Reimann

May 24, 2012

Sideways8 just hit it’s second year this month, November 2011. We started working together before that, somewhere around May of ’08, and separately we have been doing sites on and off since 1996.

With that said, we have a lot experience doing what we do. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are perfect at what we do, but that doesn’t matter for this article. This article is about saving time and getting your project done, and done correctly.

We are now setting up all of our clients with Basecamp to manage projects. Very few people actually enjoy learning new tools that get you to the same end results. We didn’t even want to learn a new tool! We have work to do, right? But oddly enough, everyone likes to get the result that they aim for. At Sideways8 we strive to hit that mark.

Basecamp and project management software in general seems to be an unnecessary step. Why is this? Email is sufficient for most things, right? We have realized though that it is not efficient when trying to hit a precise target, and sometimes, a moving target.

Often, our moving target is “text” on a site. Sometimes once you see wording on a page it just doesn’t fit. We understand that and are willing to change it. Sending an email about it, or an email about a certain word on a certain page, or certain words on certain pages and then having it changed shortly after can be confusing on our end. We just want to make sure we get it right. That is where to-do lists and tasks come in to play.

Tasks are the best way to make sure we make the mark. If we have a task, and a Word document attached we will know exactly where to place the content. When questions come up, we post a message, you get notified via email (if you choose), you post clarification, we make the change. Next, we mark the task completed.

If we have all of our tasks in Basecamp, we both see the tasks and the deadlines, and one by one we see the task list dwindle. That way you know that we are working on your project.

Files seem to be a very small part of project management, and really, a long list of files might just confuse things. But, when you combine a file with a task it makes it invaluable. Especially if we are making changes to a file. We can keep track of versions of the files.

Message tie into the core of project management. Instead of sending emails you can post a message to people and allow people to comment on it. It doesn’t seem that powerful, I know. But a record of things being posted is great, no more lost emails on either end of the project. And, if you are just trying to keep up with what is going on and do not to be directly involved (like a manager) you can get a daily digest of the messages. A pretty handy tool.

All in all, we are very glad we are using a tool like this. We feel that it saves the client time and effort.

photo credit: Bulls-eye via photopin (license)

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