Basecamp Pros and Cons
Basecamp (sometimes referred to as ‘Basecamp 3’) is an all-in-one project management software option that helps teams effectively collaborate on projects and manage tasks. By centralizing multiple project management tools and processes into a single location, Basecamp strips away the clutter of charts and statistics to present a sleek, efficient way of getting team members on the same page. It boasts an extensive selection of features, including task creation and assignment, in-built messaging, file-sharing, and more.
For a single tool, Basecamp packs a punch. While it does not have native time-tracking and project budgeting features, teams looking for these tools can integrate Basecamp with third-party applications such as Tick and MinterApp. Basecamp is most suitable for small to medium-sized businesses that require a simple and intuitive project management solution.
In this Basecamp review, we will explore project management features, pricing, ease of use, customer support, add ons, and more.
What is Basecamp?
Basecamp is a work management platform founded by Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, and Ernest Kim, first starting out in 1999 as 37Signals, a web design company. After realizing that most project management tools wasted more time than they saved, the 37Signals team set out to build an internal project management tool to improve collaboration on client projects by putting everything in one place.
Basecamp was launched in 2004 as the solution to their project management challenges, and many of their web design clients became the first customers of Basecamp. Basecamp 3, the latest iteration of the application, was launched in 2014.
Facts and Figures
|Founder||Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, Ernest Kim|
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, USA|
Basecamp Project Management Features
Project management with Basecamp is made easy. Designed to be an all-purpose tool, Basecamp offers a range of useful, intuitive features for companies looking for a budget-friendly project management tool. Their core values include “simplicity, clarity, ease-of-use, and honesty”. By consolidating all project management features in one place, Basecamp excels at project planning and team collaboration in particular but lacks native resource planning tools such as time-tracking. To make up for this, Basecamp has a number of solid third-party integrations to help more complex companies cover all the bases.
As one of the pioneers in project management, Basecamp boasts a solid set of project planning features that accelerate business growth and productivity. Basecamp focuses on providing a single platform for teams to work from, minimizing time spent switching between tools and navigating unnecessary features.
While Basecamp lacks native Kanban and Gantt charts, a number of third-party integrations are available to allow teams to have multiple ways of visualizing projects and completing tasks on time.
Similar to Kanban boards, users can access Gantt charts in Basecamp by adding a third-party integration like Ganttify and GanttWork. With these integrations, project managers can review and manage the timeline of a project and set dependencies between tasks. If a task is not completed on time, Ganttify will automatically update the project’s status and timeline.
Basecamp does not support Kanban boards natively, but users who require this functionality have plenty of options. The three Kanban integrations that integrate well with the platform and are officially endorsed Basecamp are Tracked, MangoBoard, and ScrumDo.
All three platforms feature a classic Kanban board and cards that can be moved across columns. Project managers can create and assign tasks, add task details, set deadlines and priority statuses, and filter by labels.
Basecamp’s To-Dos feature serves as a checklist where users can tick off completed tasks. Project managers can create and assign tasks to members, give and receive feedback, and schedule events and meetings in the calendar. Unlike typical to-do lists, Basecamp also allows users to set start and end dates for To-Dos to ensure that tasks are completed on time.
Basecamp boosts efficiency in a team with the progress monitoring feature. Project managers can look at how much work exists on a team member’s plate and adjust the workload accordingly. Basecamp’s Report function also allows managers to generate reports of team members. These reports detail a team member’s activity, including everything they have posted and commented on, as well as the To-Dos they have checked off.
Communication & Collaboration
Basecamp emphasizes team collaboration by letting users share information with each other at the right time. Their principle “real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time” is displayed in the way communication features are built. For time-critical conversations, users can message each other directly using Pings whereas Campfires allow users to post longer messages and hold discussions. Project managers can also provide clients with Client Access, a feature that centralizes project feedback in a single location and keeps both sides in the loop.
Basecamp’s group messaging function, also known as Campfires, allows users to have both casual and professional conversations. Users can also attach links and files in a Campfire chat. For more private correspondence, Basecamp has introduced Pings, which are instant and direct messages that go straight to a recipient without anyone else seeing it.
Currently, Basecamp does not support voice or video calling but this can be made up for with a Slack integration.
With 500GB worth of file storage on the paid plan, everyone in the team can upload and store a large amount of files and file formats. Every file comes with versioning and can be reordered or color-coded to keep things neat and organized. If 500GB is insufficient, users can also link files from Google Docs and discuss them directly within Basecamp.
Basecamp’s Client Access is a feature that allows clients and external collaborators to track a project’s progress in real-time. Project managers have control over what their clients can see and can keep client feedback on the record. Clients can also simply log into Basecamp and view different aspects of a project, including To-Dos, messages, attachments, and more.
Besides having a dedicated messaging system, Basecamp has implemented other communication channels such as Message Boards and Check-In Questions. Both Message Boards and Check-In Questions encourage team involvement and lets team members know what is happening across the company.
The Message Board is a dedicated page where team members can post discussions and have their responses be read by everyone in the team. Users can also attach files and images. On the other hand, Check-In Questions allows project managers to pose a question to their teams. Answers to Check-in Questions are automatically stacked beneath the question, providing a clear context for anyone looking in for the first time.
Agile Project Management
Though not typically used for Agile project management, Basecamp is highly customizable and has several third-party integrations that facilitate Agile workflows such as Scrum and issue-tracking. Some of these integrations are specifically developed for Basecamp, providing users a reliable and convenient way of adopting Agile frameworks without leaving Basecamp.
Customizing Basecamp for Scrum requires the use of third-party integrations such as ScrumDo. Both Scrum and Kanban workflows are available within ScrumDo, helping teams to gain a big picture of their projects. ScrumDo also supports Scrum features such as sprint planning and user stories, with all work synced bi-directionally with Basecamp.
Issue-tracking in Basecamp is a feature available via integrations such as Instabug and Ybug. These integrations capture all the information needed for ticket submission such as device details and network logs. Teams with these integrations can keep track of issues, report and receive issues directly in Basecamp. Project managers can also assign bug tickets to team members.
With the ScrumDo integration, project managers can also generate Agile reports in Basecamp that measure company-wide and team-specific metrics. The reports range from Sprint Velocity to Sprint Burndown, ensuring that project managers can gain an analysis of a team’s performance and make data-driven decisions that propel the project forward.
Many project management software options typically charge according to the number of users and projects, but Basecamp takes a more simplistic route, offering a free plan (Basecamp Personal) and a single paid plan (Basecamp Business). Basecamp also offers a 15% discount on annual subscriptions and a 10% discount for nonprofits.
Basecamp takes the security of clients and their projects very seriously. All data that exists on the Basecamp platform is sent via HTTPS, immediately written to multiple disks, backed up (daily), and stored in multiple locations. This ensures that customers always have access to their information even if there is a technical failure at one location.
Basecamp also updates its software infrastructure with regular security patches. Physical servers are located in protected facilities around the clock, and only certain personnel can gain entrance via biometric identification. There is also security staff on-site at all times, preventing trespassing and unauthorized entry.
Once a client cancels their account, information stored regarding projects will be inaccessible immediately. Within 30 days, all data is permanently deleted from all servers and logs. Once deleted, this information cannot be recovered.
Basecamp enhances its collection of features with third-party integrations such as Zapier, Zoho Flow, and Ganttify. Integrations are classified into eight major categories: Mobile and Desktop Apps, Software Development, Customer Support, and more.
Each third-party integration is designed to expand the scope of Basecamp’s native features. For example, a third-party app like Centreli can help manage employee resources such as vacation and sick days. Here are some integrations compatible with Basecamp:
The Basecamp interface is straightforward and intuitive to grasp. Logging into the application for the first time is easy, and projects are split into different screens. All the information a user might need is classified into tables such as Messages, To-Dos, Schedule, and Docs & Files. These tables contain short previews and notifications about the latest progress in the project.
While customizing Basecamp is currently limited to just changing the theme color, Basecamp has introduced little add-ons to improve organization. For example, projects that are urgent or require more attention can be starred, keeping it permanently at the top of the screen until the user alters its status again. Users can also toggle tools on and off depending on project needs and user preferences.
As far as project management tools go, Basecamp keeps the learning curve as gentle as possible.
Like most project management tools, Basecamp offers iOS and Android apps for users on the go. The mobile apps retain the same functionalities as the web browser and desktop versions of Basecamp. Project managers and team members can still access and work on projects as if they were on a desktop or laptop.
Basecamp currently does not work offline. To work on Basecamp, users must have a reliable internet connection.
For technical challenges and difficulties, Basecamp has a dedicated customer support team committed to resolving user issues. Users have to fill out a form detailing their information and issue and receive assistance via email.
Basecamp also uses a real-time timer that informs users how long it will take before receiving a response. For more urgent or time-sensitive inquiries, Basecamp does not have phone support, and all correspondence must be handled via their form submission.
If Basecamp does not meet the team’s needs, here are other alternatives:
For a general project management tool, Basecamp is a solid choice for many teams. It centers mostly on social collaboration and helps teams move projects forward. Basecamp combines the purposes of many software applications into one and ensures that activity related to the project is centralized and kept on the record.
While Basecamp is designed with some great features, it does not include budget and time-tracking tools. Basecamp makes up for this with a broad range of third-party applications that expand the native functionalities of the application itself. At the end of the day, Basecamp is most suited for individuals and small to medium businesses.