When I started at MediaOne, I was asked to evaluate tools to improve the productivity of the Project Management and Business Analyst teams.
It is said that web project management is more about methods than tools, so if you want to keep track of your project’s tasks on paper, and that works for you and your clients, then go for it. There is no doubt that over-complicating project management methods can reduce team efficiency, but a well suited and adopted project management tool can be a true time, labor and a cost saver.
Anyway, changing project management systems is a pretty big deal, and you really want to read quite a bit before venturing out on something like that. But after spending a weekend on research I had some candidates and a winner solution:
- Zoho projects, was a bit complex to introduce in the short-term, it was a superior tool but it was a good tool tu run large projects
- Basecamp, was the best solution to introduce in the short-term and simplicity and ease of use was the killer reason
So I presented Basecamp because:
- It was a cheap solution and also used by a large amount of organisations
- It was easy to use
- The solution was aimed to improve communication and collaboration
- We wanted a central repository or information
- It is a hosted solution (although the other solutions as well), meaning that we pay a monthly service fee to use the software so it is considered as a SAS (software as a Service)
With Basecamp, after 15 minutes of poking around, I was able to use the major sections (To-Do’s, Milestones, Whiteboard, Chat and Time Tracking). The dashboard was informative without being overwhelming (remember that we were going to use this with no technical savvy clients). Overall, 37 Signals does a great job implementing their “less is more” design in Basecamp.
So we set up some project on Basecamp and gave credentials to the clients to log in and interact with us. The response was very positive because:
- Simplicity of use, people tended to use Basecamp more regularly to document project issues, resolutions, communications, etc.
- Both teams (internal and clients) were interacting more, so we were at the top of the user and business requirements
- Clients were satisfied, because we started to deliver useful solutions with high standards of quality as the user acceptance tests were performed constantly (more collaboration)
- It also provided email integration
In the end, we introduced Basecamp to all the projects and clients and we got to spend more time on the projects and less on administration. We actually renamed Basecamp as “Project Centre” to fit into our goal to have a central point of knowledge.