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LAST UPDATED: June 27th, 2019
Basecamp provides a robust project management program that helps clients see a project's successful flow from start to finish and everywhere in between. The project management program allows individuals or companies to connect with fellow employees and team members on critical projects, both large and small. Team members can also collaborate with cross-functional teams, clients, vendors and other third-party stakeholders on the given project. Basecamp has been in operation for more than 15 years. Though its company headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois, many of the company's employees work remotely. The company has a large client base, having worked with more than 285,000 companies last year alone. Basecamp helped these clients with an astounding 2 million-plus projects. The privately held company was formerly known as 37signals. It was named after the 37 radio telescope signals the astronomer Paul Horowitz identified as potential messages from extraterrestrial intelligence. The company was renamed to Basecamp in 2014 to focus exclusively on its flagship product. It was co-founded by Jason Fried, Ernest Kim, and Carlos Segura in 1999. Jason Fried was left as the remaining founder after the other two gentlemen left the company a few years later. Basecamp released a new version of its software application in 2012. Over 6,000 companies worldwide use the platform.

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The Good

  • Comprehensive overview
  • Collaboration
  • Daily Recap emails
  • Search tool
  • Training
Basecamp has a user interface that gives users a comprehensive overview. Along the top are tabs entitled Projects, Calendar, Everything, Progress, Everyone, and Me. The Me section shows all tasks and projects assigned to the user. This allows users to focus on one particular area while blocking out extraneous information. Basecamp features a designated discussion area for team collaboration efforts. Users can also comment directly on a task as well. Basecamp also gives users the ability to write and edit within a shared document simultaneously while all changes are automatically saved. Basecamp sends all users a Daily Recap email directly to their inbox to keep them informed on project and tasks updates. Tasks can be created through a user's email and sent directly to the system. Discussions concerning these projects and tasks can also be done through email, without logging into the system. Comments can be edited or changed by a user within 14 minutes of entering the system. Files can be found quickly in the platform. The system features a powerful search tool that will scan all projects and tasks to find the information you are looking for. You can also view all uploaded files by date. The platform supports visual content very well. Administrators can choose who is allowed to see what and what users can or cannot do. These permissions can be adjusted as a group or by a particular user. This gives program managers complete control over the security of private and sensitive information. If an item is accidently deleted by a user, it can be restored by clicking on Basecamp's trash can and placing it back into the system. This is an excellent feature to ensure a valuable document never gets lost. The Basecamp Support team teaches a weekly 30-minute online class that uses can register for. There is no charge for the class. Users will receive instruction on learning and understanding the software program and its features. The company provides a free trial for 2 whole months and verified teachers get access to Basecamp absolutely free. Price plans are affordable for most business sizes and types.

The Bad

  • Task management features
  • Reporting functions
  • Uploads
  • In-system viewing and editing
  • Customer support
Some of the task management features within Basecamp could use improvement. Basecamp offers no way for tasks to be dependent on one another. Tasks cannot be given estimated durations or be assigned to multiple users. The program does not have Gantt timeline charts and no time-tracking features. It is possible to acquire Gantt charts or time-tracking features by connecting to an available service that offers them. Basecamp also does not provide any reporting functions. This makes data analyzing and informed decision-making extremely difficult. There is no way to track milestones and major events. Basecamp does not create project timelines either, so there is no way to truly see the full scope of a given project. Workspaces and dashboards cannot be customized, although the layout is incredibly easy to use and very intuitive. Documents with more than one contributor will need to be uploaded as a new file every time there is a change. Basecamp does not allow overwrites on older versions. This ends up creating a long list of documents within the platform. Viewing and editing files directly within the system is nonexistent. Users must download the file first. It would make things a lot easier for users to make minor changes to a document is this feature was available. As stated earlier, clicking on the "Me" tab allows you to see all projects and activities relating to you. However, you cannot prioritize these tasks beyond a specific due date or differentiate between various complex tasks. This can make advanced scheduling more difficult. Basecamp does not foster communication well among team members. Sometimes users do not get notification alerts when they should, depending on the email platform being used. Some third-party applications, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, require additional services in order to connect. Financial management tools are also lacking. Users cannot connect costs or risks to projects or create expense and budget reports. Customer support is lacking-not necessarily the lack of expertise among agents, but simply the lack of availability. Customers cannot call in; they must email or access the support queue online. These are nice options, but the absence of a phone-in option is a negative. Larger companies may find Basecamp insufficient for its needs due to storage limitations.

The Bottom Line

Basecamp is a simplistic web-based project management application more suitable for smaller companies. It can be argued that is is more task management based, as many features available for larger scale projects are lacking within Basecamp's software. The program is perfect for managing small projects that do not require dependencies or Gantt charts. Users cannot manage budget and expense reports and there are no time-tracking features. However, the platform features an easy-to-use interface and an excellent file storage system. If you are a small or medium-size business, definitely give Basecamp a look. They have an abundance of tools to meet just about any needs, regardless of the nature of your project. No matter what your company does or what role you might fill within your organization, Basecamp can be a good way to navigate challenging projects.
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