There are so many tools out there targeted at small businesses it is sometimes hard to know where to start. Coming from a very large corporate myself, and having only been with Simpleweb for three months, I was very new to all of the tools on offer and to having the flexibility to change what you used if something better came along!  I was also new to the concept that there are tools out there that can actually help you achieve your goals!  A lot of the tools I had come across previously, sadly formed part of a box ticking exercise and were seen by the majority as more of a hindrance than a helping hand.

Basecamp was one of the first tools I was introduced to when I started. “Have a look around and then start a new project” Mark said.  What?! No 3 hour webex and an exam to pass before I am let loose? (I wish I was exaggerating!) What kind of project management tool is this?! Within about 10 minutes I had the to my question.  It is the project management tool for everybody.

What Does it Do?

Over the past 3 months I am not ashamed to say that I have become completely addicted to Basecamp, and it is now very much a part of my daily routine. It is simple, yet effective and tells me everything I need to know at the start of a day.

Instead of emailing different people and having discrepancies over what was said/when/who knew etc (which we all know happens FAR too often across projects), you message people through Basecamp and everything is saved in one place. When you send a message you choose who you want to see it, attach any files and it will automatically be emailed to the relevant people with everything then saved in Basecamp.  It keeps all of the project notes and attachments centralized so everyone is always kept in the loop and any new people to the project/managers wanting a high level view, can quickly catch up.

You can do all the normal things you should be able to do with a Project Management tool – to-do lists with owners and timelines, milestones, track time, but they are done publicly on Basecamp and therefore agreed at that specific time. Everyone knows the timelines, milestones and owners and therefore there is no room for “miscommunication.”

At Simpleweb we work with a number of different clients, from the Government to Sole Traders and therefore we need to use a tool that everyone can use from day one without wasting precious time on training.

Multiple Projects

One of the key features we love about Basecamp is the way it handles multiple projects.  We can often be working on a number of projects at once and therefore it is important for Mark and Tom to be able to quickly see an overview of all projects. What is going on with each project, when the next milestone is, and who is involved so they can manage our resources efficiently. Basecamp enables them to do this.

Extra Features

There are a large number of extra features that you can add in to tailor Basecamp to your specific business requirements. These range from iPhone apps to more detailed reporting tools, invoicing and billing tools and even chat (through Campfire). Most of which are costed individually but give you a free trial and can be integrated into Basecamp. This is great because it makes it harder for you to “Grow out of.”  As you grow as a business, so can your project management tool.

Is it for me?

As much as I have unknowingly become a Basecamp evangelist, I am in no way suggesting this tool alone will solve all project management needs for all businesses.  We use Basecamp in conjunction with Omniplan which enables us to visualise projects with Gantt charts, and we find that this works best for us and our clients.  Each company will obviously be different depending on your clientele, the nature and number of projects you are involved in at any one time and the service/product you offer. I also appreciate that I may be slightly biased because I have gone from one extreme to the other, missing out the tools in the “middle” which maybe add some real value to the world of project management in a way that I am yet to appreciate.  I cannot help but think however, that for what we, as a small business, need it for, nothing could be any simpler and why would we want to make it any more complicated?

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