Basecamp Review – Updated for 2013
Since then, Basecamp has made some pretty major changes in the look, feel, and overall use of its project management software. Back in quarter 1, 2012, they completely overhauled Basecamp’s foundation – originally calling the project (before release) Basecamp Next. Since then this new streamlined version as completely replaced the old version of Basecamp (now called Basecamp Classic).
Many of its foundations are the same (to-do lists, calendars, and messaging), but Basecamp has definitely altered itself to stay updated in an ever-evolving marketplace.
My team and I have been using (and reviewing) Basecamp for years. With the rollout of some new features for Basecamp, I thought it was time to update Zincubate and give our readers a new Basecamp review.
Basecamp Classic & The Latest Version: What’s the Same
The first thing I’d like to do is list what features are the same between Basecamp Classic and the latest version Basecamp (hence, these are the features that I’ve already reviewed).
- Projects: the organization of projects on the Basecamp Dashboard is different, but the overarching idea is the same. Each project represents a set of activities and communication by team members.
- To-Do Lists: to-dos are nothing new for Basecamp. Each team member is assigned to-dos underneath a specific project.
- Messages: messages are still the same, but simply have been assigned a new name: Discussions.
Basecamp Classic & The Latest Version: What’s Different
The foundation on which Basecamp lies is essentially the same, but there has been an introduction of newer features and an omission of a couple features I’d like to see return.
The New Dashboard
It only makes sense to start where everyone starts in Basecamp: the Dashboard. After using Basecamp Classic for so long, logging into the latest version of Basecamp presents a little bit of a cleaner display. The menu has been updated and has a few different options:
- Everything: a gateway to literally everything including links to all to-dos, all discussions, etc.
- Progress: see what went on for specific days within a project.
- Everyone: where you can add new team members and click on each team member’s name to see what they’re working on.
- Me: a list of everything you’ve done or need to work on.
In addition to the new menu bar, the Basecamp Dashboard presents projects a little differently (see below).
The circle icons represent team members working on that particular project (real pictures can also be uploaded, but I kind of like these faces!). In addition to the projects, you will also find a menu bar and a handy search bar.
Lack of Time Tracking
This is the first feature I noticed was missing – and for good reason. Time tracking is absolutely fundamental when it comes to business (especially small businesses). Team member time is precious, and it’s important to know where it’s going and where it’s being spent. I should also point out that time tracking IS available, but you must access it through Basecamps’ add-ons, i.e. it’s NOT standard.
Another project management tool, Apollo, does a fantastic job with time tracking. Not only can you track time, but you can also categorize it and mark it for billing purposes (i.e. billable, non-billable, billed). Again, time tracking should definitely come standard and I think this is a misstep for Basecamp.
The Introduction of Text Documents
A recent addition to Basecamp is the availability of Text Documents. From what I can see and understand, these documents are mean to be notes that can be edited and updated for everyone to see. When completing the Basecamp review, I noticed there were no writeboards. While this is the case, I believe Text Documents were created to replace the writeboards since they essentially serve the same functions.
Another new feature is Catch Up. If you’re taking a day away from work (who am I kidding? That never happens!), you now have the option to catch up on what happened within a project for that day. I think this feature will prove very beneficial for all Basecamp users.
Project Management Tool Innovation & Competition
All in all, I think 37signals continues to do a good job of keeping Basecamp updated and fresh to attract new users and please current ones. However, with newer tools like Apollo gaining ground, Basecamp should be ready to innovate even further to continue being the big player in the project management market.