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Quitting Basecamp

Yesterday, I cancelled our Basecamp account at work.
We were always happy with Basecamp as a tool, but it hadnt been getting very much use over
the last few months so the decision to cancel was a financial one. Certainly, nobody wants to
pay for something theyre not getting any use out of.
Basecamp was chosen just as the dust had started to settle following a number of personnel
changes. Up until that point, we had been using multiple applications like Fogbugz, VersionOne,
and two others I cant name. A lot of these were initiated by our former project manager, but I
dont think that they were ever a great fit for our developers. The biggest problem with all of
these tools was that they did one or two things well, and then other things not-so-well. Fogbugz,
for example, is a very flexible tool which allows you to organize issue tickets in almost any way
that youd like, but it doesnt handle business communications very well at all. VersionOne,
which had never been accepted by developers, offered nice features but was so complex that it
took days to figure out how it all worked together. And, it was initially not a very good solution for
business communication (although over the years, it has gotten better).
The consensus from everyone was that we needed to simplify, and of course thats when
Basecamp was mentioned by name. It definitely sets a standard for the important aspects of
project management: Tasks, task lists, and especially communication through discussion and
emailed notifications. Two aspects that I enjoyed most of all were the Activity Feed which was
basically a huge timeline showing everything that happened inside the different projects, and the
daily summaries which caught you up on any new developments you might have missed
overnight or during the previous day.
But, as much as we wanted it to, Basecamp was not going to cover all of our needs as a
development team. Looking back, I think that by switching to a very focussed, simplified task
management system we sacrificed the ability to track issues and plan projects. The developers
were happy enough given that they were managing their programming work with Github, but
then there was the matter of bridging the two together. I had remained inside Fogbugz and
maintained our backlog there, so keeping everything synchronized was a challenge.
Nothing seemed to be working until I happened across Podio, an application which allows you
pretty much build your own web application. Podio can be a content management system, task
manager, business calendar, addressbook--the possibilities are somewhat endless. Once we
were able to migrate our resources into Podio we no longer needed most of the other tools we
had been using.
Although we made the switch away from Basecamp I would still recommend it to most
businesses or organizations. If you want to stay in touch with a staff or a project team, assign
tasks, and conveniently store all of your information in one spot, then Basecamp is more than
powerful enough for you. I just wouldnt recommend it for web development teams so much.

In all fairness, Basecamp was making a lot of improvements to its interface even as we were
starting to look around for other options. So, maybe there will be a time when Basecamp does
enough for us to come back.


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