Organize Your Life: Basecamp - SkEye Studios

THE OVERVIEW

At SkEye Studios, we’re passionate about using technological resources available to us.  While there are surely hundreds of helpful office management/small business tools out there, we use some more than others on a daily basis. As SkEye’s adamant organizer, let me introduce you to Basecamp—our in-house project management software.

 

THE APPLICATION: Basecamp 3

THE PURPOSE: Project Management

PRICE: $29/month for internal teams, and $79/month to use Basecamp with clients

FIND IT: www.basecamp.com

 

Basecamp 3 is one of the most revolutionary project-management products out there.  Eh, who are we kidding…  It’s. The. Best.  Chris started using Basecamp 2 earlier in 2015.  It was powerful, but when Basecamp 3 (the latest version) came out, I decided we would be early-adopters.  We got on board and started organizing our projects and to-do lists in ways that were clean and easily accessible.  

 

WHAT WE USE IT FOR

 

  • Communicating with team members.
  • Assigning and completing project to-do’s.
  • Uploading and organizing project files.

 

Like any amazing multi-purpose tool, there are features that we use like they’re going out of style, and there are features that we hardly ever touch, but I can see how they could be useful in a different setting.  SkEye uses it as our work-related instant messaging application between co-workers.  I’m a to-do list writer, and Basecamp allows you to create lists of to-do’s in organized locations.  Each project has it’s own “basecamp.”  The basecamp has six possible features:  Campfire (quick project-related messaging), Message Board (focused discussions), To-do’s (ability to group lists within the project), Schedule, Automatic Check-ins, and Docs & Files.

 

Since we’re a team of five, we often are working to delegate tasks to those who are most suited to them.  And sometimes, there are tasks that everyone needs to do individually, but on their own time.  For those of you alongside us in the startup life, you know that you’re spinning plates…  Sometimes you’re spinning so many plates you forget that you also started spinning a bowl and a saucer.  The to-do list keeps those around…or it allows you to re-assign them to someone more suited to the task.  For example, I’m writing this blog, but Margaret will be making the featured image.  I have set a to-do for her to create it in a timely fashion.

 

The Docs & Files is also especially important to us.  Here is where we can store any of our general files related to a client or project.  Occasionally, when I’m making updates on the website or blog, I’ll need our “official” SkEye colors.  Instead of asking Patrick for the exact color of orange each time, I simply go to our SkEye Business Development basecamp to the SkEye Assets document where I can find the color listings, our logos, and any other common SkEye branding items.  The Docs & Files is where Margaret will upload the featured image she created for this blog.

 

THE PROS

 

  • Simple/clean – doesn’t require any training, just use and exploration.
  • Adaptable – Use it where it makes sense for you, desktop, online, or in the iOS or Android app.
  • Deep – There is no limit to the projects or number of users, only space.  Purchase the amount you’ll need to start.
  • Affordable – Pricing is set and doesn’t fluctuate based on number of projects or users.
  • Responsive – The team at Basecamp is incredibly responsive and always making changes and updates based on client feedback.  They also have a myriad of support tools available as you research whether or not it is the best program for you.

 

What I like best about Basecamp is it has helped our project organization in leaps and bounds.  Conversations among ourselves regarding a client or project are contained in the respective project basecamp.  The ability to assign to-do items is also incredibly helpful as it reduces the time we spend distracting one another with trying to figure out whose responsibility is whose.

 

THE CONS

Because I know I’m a bit blinded by my love of Basecamp, I had to do some research with others in our office and on the internet to have a better idea of what could use improvement.

  • Limited Feature Set – Basecamp 3 is an outstanding community project management tool, but we’d love it even more if it had better tracking and reporting.  Specifically, I would appreciate it if we could track time spent on tasks or to-do lists within basecamps.  Also, because I love modernization and integration, with all the communication abilities, sometimes I’d like to use Basecamp for video conferencing within the team.
  • Margaret mentioned to me that Basecamp’s interface and overall appearance seems outdated.  Unlike similar software, Basecamp is non-customizable in that you are unable to personalize your account by changing color schemes or inserting your company logo.
  • Applause – Actually, we love this feature so much, we just wish we could use it more!  Giving applause is something one user can do to show appreciation for comments and documents.  However, the ability isn’t extended to being able to give applause for completing a to-do.

 

To me, the biggest drawback to Basecamp is that it does not have a time tracker.  Due to this, we are constantly having to add projects to multiple organizational tools (ie. both Basecamp and Toggl, our time tracker).  Occasionally, we forget to add a project to the time tracker as well, or things get added multiple times, and the tracking is less effective.  I’d love if it was all in one place!

 

THE TAKEAWAY

 

If you do one thing for your business today, it should be to examine how projects are being tracked.  Are you constantly going between your team trying to figure out who’s doing what and what the status is on a project?  Do you find yourself losing track of your to-do list and the due dates on items?  Or realizing that a to-do would be better completed by someone else?  Even worse, do you ever remember a (virtual) conversation, but are unsure of where it took place?  A project management software that’s simple enough for everyone to stay on track might be just what you need.  
Don’t be afraid to adopt a new process or system.  Even if it’s in developmental stages!  Early adopters are critical to a business’ or product’s success.  We are the ones who have the opportunity to share our opinions of what features we like and wish could be better, ultimately contributing to the creation of the best thing possible.