Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Project Management

So I'm working on this huge project. Not huge in terms of lines of code, or in terms of number of people involved. Huge in terms of: It will be used by tens or hundreds of millions of people every year. Yeah ... pretty cool.

The project isn't being managed as well as it could be, in my opinion. Let me emphasize that: In my opinion.

So, I suggested -- to the owner of the company that is creating the software product -- that we use Basecamp. It's a web-based "Software As A Service" application.

Disclaimer: Basecamp is a product of 37 Signals. The founder of 37 Signals, Jason Fried, is a personal friend.

Basecamp is, arguably, the single most important piece of project management software ever created.

"Wow, Don ... that's quite a statement!"

Yeah, well, you use Basecamp and you'll become an evangelist as I am.

Basecamp allows all the important parts of a project -- artifacts, messages, schedules, etc. -- to be stored in one place. Any "stakeholder" (BUZZWORD ALERT!) can access the project's information from anywhere: Computer, iPad, phone. Even a Windows-based machine.

(*zing!*)

As you might imagine, the old-school owner of the creating company (NOT me) was opposed to the idea. "We have Microsoft Project" ... "It's in the cloud" ... "We don't have a process in place" ... all the excuses -- and that's all they are -- you would expect.

Nixed. Shot down. Kicked to the curb.

So, like any good self-starter, I purchased my own subscription to Basecamp and started using it.

I invited the client to join my project. They did, immediately, and are already liking it.

Today, while working with an ancillary party (the usability experts), they asked me to make the latest copy of the prototype software available to them.

"No problem. I have an online project management software that I use ..."

"Basecamp?"

"Yeah! How'd you know? Did Kristy tell you?"

"No, I've used it before with _____. It's great."

So, despite the best efforts of the owner, we're using Basecamp, collaborating on this project, communicating and sharing "stuff" via one, central location.

Kudos to Jason, 37 Signals and Basecamp. I cannot recommend it enough.

All The Best,

-- Don

5 comments:

Apollo said...

Hi there,

Disclaimer: I work for one of the (now many) competitors of Basecamp: Apollo ( http://www.apollohq.com ).

I have to agree with your statement:

"Basecamp is, arguably, the single most important piece of project management software ever created."

Basecamp changed the rules of project management. Before, it was Gantt charts, cost estimates, and so on. Basecamp came, and people realised that *communication* was the key of completing a project.

Jason's intuition was a breakthrough. Kudos to hm.

I have a question though. And I am asking this knowing that I am taking a risk, especially since you are a personal friend of Jason's...

Don't you think that 37Signals' development of Basecamp slowed down a little too much over the years, and that integration between Basecamp and Highrise should be a lot tighter?

I think that thinking about something like Basecamp changed all the rules and yes it was really important. But, I also think that the *implementation* of an idea is really important as well, and that developing things further is crucial.

Resting on laurels is comfortable, but rarely a good idea.

Let me show off a little. We @Applicomhq spent a long time getting Apollo right, as software should be in 2011. Apollo is fully AJAX, and includes project management and CRM. Everything is neatly integrated, and it's all really fast, thanks to AJAX.

We will continue, because we love doing it. But at the same time we can't help but wondering why 37s didn't evolve Basecamp/Highrise into something similar to what Apollo is today.

Merc.

Mario said...

Hi Merc,

I had a look a Apollohq.

There is a rule in business and in life, it is easier to claim the mountain than to stay on the top of that mountain.

It is true, that basically other software platforms and competitors have a lot of more features than basecamp or even much better integration as Apollo, which by the way looks great.

But Basecamp has a free plan for one project and you guys don't...!

I have used a few of those other platforms (I know most of them actually), but after sometime I keep coming back to Basecamp, why? It is extremely extremely easy to use, extremely reliable, it is really multilanguage, works with almost evertything, there is a huge ecosistem around it, iphone apps, freshbooks, ipad, omnifocus... and so on.

I actually don't pay for basecamp and I'm able to mantain and switch among different projects with one single account, something I can't not say from Apollo or any other platform.

Basecamp sends the nicest emails of all platforms I have seen.

Basecamp has by far the best Dashboard and project Overview of all, they considerar what no ones does, simple things as having a small milestones calendar on top of the overview, small details than make big differences.

Talking about calendars, this is probably the weekest point in Basecamp, theres is no real calendar and this the reason I always go to find something with a real calendar for a low price.

I'll try goplanapp.com they have a free plan with a calendar... I'll see how it goes...

Remember Merc... many new came, promised a lot of things and then dissapeared.... basecamp did not promised so many things, they do well but they, they stay on top and you can trust they'll be there for you...

I wish you all the best with Apollo and hope you can stay on top as basecamp does... is not easy...!

And please, does yourself a favour, open a free acount, even limited but free so that you can atract potential customers to you...

Cheers
Mario

Dain Miller said...

Give us a hint of the project mate. Not the idea, just some tiny little bitty hint.

Raj Gupta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.



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