How do you manage projects? Scraps of paper? Expensive software? Brain cells? Try Basecamp, a free online tool. [First published December 2005.]
Basecamp is a website dedicated to helping you manage projects, small or large. It helps you and your team-mates manage files, ideas, actions, and people. It’s much simpler and loads more efficient than trying to send attachments around by email.
Basecamp allows you to manage one project free. To manage a number of projects at the same time sign up for the paid service, which starts at USD$12 per month for 3 projects.
Set Milestones, such as the date of a Conference or book launch or Open Day. Basecamp then tracks how long you have until each Milestone, and warns you if the date has passed but the Milestone has not been achieved.
To Do Lists
In order to achieve a milestone there are certain tasks various people have to do. List these tasks and allocate them to people. Mark off what’s finished and filter by person.
Store project files
Keep important files in one place for everyone to access, but note that you need your own FTP server with a free account. You may need cover art and chapters for a book, perhaps, or a style guide for reference, or perhaps photos to go in the resource kit. A central storage area means everyone can add or call up files. It’s very easy to upload files via a form. Anyone can do it.
A writeboard is a place where you can create a document and others can edit it. This is great for collaborating on a document such as a funding proposal or a report. When the document is finished, email it, export it as a text file or as a (high quality) web page.
Thanks to the RSS feeds you don’t need to log in just to check for new items. The RSS feed automatically alerts you to updates, including letting you know who is responsible for any To Do items.
See all the ‘To Do’s, messages, milestones and files from the overview screen.
A helpful tool
Basecamp has many more features and offers several advantages:
- All the information is centralised and available over the Internet, rather than locked away in one person’s computer. You, and the other contributors to the project, can check on progress, see what remains to be done, contribute information from any Internet connected computer anywhere in the world.
- Selective access: allow and restrict access to your project file. The world at large can’t see your project, but you can invite in volunteers and others who have something to contribute.
- The service is slick, effective and enjoyable to use.
Written for and reproduced from
CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, December 2005. The article has been modified for use here.