If you've used Basecamp, chances are pretty high that you love it. We do. I have, in the past, used Basecamp to manage a bunch of consulting assignments, and Basecamp really made our life easy. We have worked with many task management and collaboration tools, and I must say Basecamp takes the cake when it comes to being simply, purely functional. For projects that are not very long drawn and not very complex, Basecamp offers just the right set of tools to get the work done smoothly.
But having used Basecamp to manage and collaborate on some fairly large projects that ran for more than 2 years and involved around 15 people, we have come to believe that Basecamp needs to play much better with email than it currently does. The following are some of the scenarios that came up while managing some really large projects which made us think so:
Email conversations on a project happen even before the project "starts": Before a large project starts, and is even finalized, there are loads of communication about the project regarding architecture, design, technology and planning. In a consulting set-up, a lot of this happens before the project is awarded to the contractor / consultant / freelancer. Now once the project starts, communication can almost completely shift to Basecamp, but all these email conversations with useful information stay inside email inboxes, completely detached from where all the action is happening.
While Basecamp gives a place for all team members on a project to interact on, there is a lot of communication which might need to involve people who are not team members on the project. Example: while working on a specific problem on a project, you might need to talk to experts who might not be a part of the team working on the project. Some of them might not even be a part of your company. In scenarios like this, the communication mostly happens over email, and again, does not show up inside Basecamp.
Feedback, issues and bugs reported by users, customers, testers and friends end up becoming tasks in Basecamp a lot of times. Now since a lot of these issues reported are over email, Basecamp seriously lacks ways to convert such emails into tasks, and then also continue the conversation with the person who reported the issue from inside Basecamp.
There are other scenarios too, but these are the most important ones. In general, we strongly feel all collaboration tools must play very well with email in order to be completely effective.
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About the author:
Niraj is the Founder of GrexIt. GrexIt turns Gmail into a powerful collaboration tool by letting you share your Gmail labels. When not working at GrexIt on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar.
Niraj can be reached on Twitter at nirajr.