“New” Basecamp – Good or Bad?

Brad Meucci By Brad Meucci

Basecamp. Source: http://37signals.com. License: All Rights Reserved.

Imagebox recently made the switch from the classic version of the project management tool Basecamp to the newest, and I’m trying to decide whether or not I’m happy with the change. The early indication is a thumbs down. I’m all for upgrading, but only when the pros outweigh the cons. Allow me to explain.

As a project manager for a company that has anywhere from 40-70 active projects at any given time, software like classic Basecamp was a real lifesaver. It gave me just about every tool I needed in order to do my job effectively: I could easily create a production schedule, quickly review employee time tracking and easily send/receive files and emails, to name a few. “New” Basecamp, on the other hand, seems to have made each of these tasks much harder to complete.

Here are a few of my frustrations with new Basecamp:

Production Schedules

Classic Basecamp included a simple calendar from which I could create and manage my Basecamp can be used to manage production schedules.client production schedules. If I needed to move a milestone… no problem, a few clicks of the mouse and it was done. In “new” Basecamp, calendars are now events, and you can no longer adjust an entire schedule by editing one milestone (each would need to be done manually). This left me with two options: spend all my time managing production schedules, or stop doing them all together. For now, I’m trying out option two, but we’ll see how that goes.

Time Tracking

Classic Basecamp allowed you to do time tracking.Time tracking inside of new Basecamp is no more! The only way to track time in new Basecamp is by installing an add-on called Harvest, and the two pieces of software only play nicely right now in Chrome. Since this was my company’s only option, we signed up for Harvest. I will say though, that I’m actually digging Harvest so far… check back in the future for a post on this topic.

Privacy

In classic Basecamp, you could send private messages.No more private messages or files in new Basecamp! This was an awesome feature because it allowed us to house all of our internal files (meeting notes, emails, files) in one centralized place. It’s not the biggest inconvenience because we just use regular email now, but it was nice to know that whenever we needed to reference something, we knew where to look.

As I mentioned before, we just made the switch, so I’ll admit that I may be a little biased, because, so far, I’m not in love with the change. That said, in time I’m sure I’ll find that new Basecamp has a number of features that classic Basecamp doesn’t, so keep an eye out for an updated review.

Have you used the newest version of Basecamp? How do you like it?

12 Comments

  1. Wow. Those aren’t small changes. What is so new that makes this an upgrade and not, as the post would imply, a downgrade? We use ActiveCollab, which has had similar and dumbfounding ‘upgrades’ in the past as well. Would be nice to see more effort from these companies to communicate with users before going into new territory. Rather, if they have I must have missed the memos.

    • Brad Meucci

      Brad Meucci

      Thanks for the comment, Jorden, and I agree with you about communicating w/ users before making major changes. As Jessica points out in the comment below, one upgrade is the ability to copy to-do lists from one project to the next, which does save time. Another perk is the ‘Me’ tab which helps my team organize/prioritize their to-do’s.

      I have not used ActiveCollab, but will definitely check it out…

  2. Brad Meucci

    Jessica Moretti

    The new Basecamp is the only Basecamp I have ever known, so it’s difficult for me to truly empathize with you. However, I live and breath Basecamp day in and day out (even on the weekends, gasp!). When I imagine my life without it, I want to curl into the fetal position and cry for my mother. Well, that’s a bit extreme, but let’s settle and say that I am highly dependent on it.

    I’m not sure if Classic Basecamp has these features, but here are three things that I love the most:

    Project Templates — Lord, Hallelujah!
    The ability to email to-do lists straight to a project – What time saver!
    Labels! I can’t get my team to use them, but if they did, I’d die a happy girl.

    Anyway, don’t give up on it too quickly. Stick in there, I’m sure you’ll adjust. Until then, stay golden, Ponyboy.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence and comments, Jessica. I just read up on labels, which seem useful, so I’ll definitely give them a try. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Brad Meucci

    Dan Otherside

    If I may suggest an alternative to Harvest (which is great but maybe a bit complicated), I’d spend my cent for Timeneye (http://www.timeneye.com). In particular, it allows users to track time commenting on Basecamp to-dos with the time spent on them, and this feature was what made possible for me to bring all my team to use a time tracking solution without growing anger towards me 🙂

    • Hi Chris –

      I have not found anything better (for my purposes) and therefore, am still using it. They eventually brought back the ability to post files/messages that are hidden from the client, which was helpful. They also simplified the process of porting over projects from old to new Basecamp, which was previously a real pain.

      Brad

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Allie. I briefly glanced at the software and it seems to cover many of our basic needs, but will let you know my thoughts after I’ve had a chance to take a closer look. Thanks again!

  4. We used Tick for time tracking. I had tried Harvest, but Tick was a better fit, as it bills time against the entire to do list, rather than against individual to do list items. I recommend it.

  5. Brad Meucci

    Peter F.

    The loss of milestone functionality is really huge. Now all adjustments are by hand instead of the cascade effect. This change slows things down significantly. I kind of hate the new version.

  6. Brad Meucci

    Max

    It’s not an issue of design IMHO. Basecamp fell behind leading free alternatives – Trello, Asana, Bitrix24. I just love Bitrix24. It’s arguably the most powerful free project management platform out there. At least I know of no others who give you free unlimited tasks, projects, time tracking, Kanban, Gantt, quotes, invoicing and client management in a single package.

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