Context About Project Management
You may remember reading our recent post, Why Projects Fail, where we defined some of the key issues that cause projects to fail such as lack of user input, inadequate or vague requirements, and poor communication. We then introduced the idea of project management, or making sure the project is progressing at regular and pre-defined increments.
How Halogen Designs recognized the need for project management software
The first time we were handling two website projects at once we knew we needed project management software. Before our current situation we were using a sad sad system some of you may be familiar with: Emails, primitive to-do lists, my Blackberry, Alex’s iPhone, and post it notes. A system like this takes too much effort to sustain.
Do you guys remember the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty? The Internet Movie DataBase summarizes the movie as, “A guy who complains about God too often is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world.” There is a scene in the movie that illustrates how ineffective and primitive older management tools are compared to the computer. In the scene bruce is becoming overwhelmed by hearing everyones prayers at once. He tried out filing cabinets which filled up his whole house. Then he tried ‘prayer post-its’ which you can see in the photo really backfired. He moved his prayer filing system onto the computer, which does have its own problems but makes management much easier.
Introducing the future of project management: Basecamp
Ok so it’s no secret we love 37Signals products, but Basecamp holds a special place in our heart. It was the product that introduced us to the 37signals way. We now use their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software Highrise and their group chat product Campfire.
So why do we love Basecamp? It is simple, easy to use, and affordable. Projects are managed in a very smart way: Milestones, Messages, To-Do (ta-da lists), and files. First we set the Milestones. These are the target dates we set for each piece of the project such as design due in 30 days, development due in 60 days, and creative copy due 75 days. Next are messages. Messages can stand-alone or can relate to milestones. That way a message that was about the types of images and colors that should appear on the website will be listed underneath the ‘Design’ milestone. To-do lists work exactly like a normal to-do list should. You can assign individual to-do list tasks to employees and clients, relate the list to a milestone, and set due dates.
Why do our clients love Basecamp?
Recently we started giving our clients access to their Basecamp projects. My favorite comment so far was from a client who considers himself technically inept. He said that Basecamp was really easy to use and gives him an ‘eagle eye view’ of his project. I love the word choice. The eagle flys high and has the typical ‘birds-eye view’ often used in analogies; however, the eagle can see the land, or the details, from high altitudes. Our client was effectively saying that he could monitor the project from a distance, but still have access to the details when he needed them. For him it was the design phase. He was very active in selecting colors, adding comments, and responding to requests during the design phase. During the development stage he could sit back and watch the site progress.
How do you get Basecamp
We love Basecamp because it gives our clients quantifiable progress reports and shows them when upcoming tasks will be completed. It gives them additional value and insight into their project that outdated tools cannot provide. If you think Basecamp might be right for your company you should try it out. I have included the Halogen Designs affiliate banner below. If you feel like our post assisted in your decision to use Basecamp please sign up with the affiliate banner. Otherwise leave us some feedback and try out Basecamp affiliate free.
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