How BaseCamp Compares...
I first learned about BaseCampHQ about 3 years into my online career...that was probably about three years too late.
Let me first explain what BaseCamp does:
It is an online portal (you manage this in your browser...i.e., you do not download or install any software). In this portal you can set up projects. For many of us, you would probably set up a different project for each of your websites that you manage.
Once you set up your projects, you can then add participants who can work on each (or all) of the projects you have set up.
Both, setting up new projects and new users is very simple and takes just a couple of minutes.
From here, you can:
- assign tasks to the users
- place resources and files that the users have access to
- message your users and start a conversation (much like a discussion forum) which all of the users have access to view and contribute
- set up milestones with your users.
All of this stuff is done within the portal. Communication is based, stored and archived within the portal, but new communication is usually updated to users via email (which is built into the system).
Yes, the system is simple (and to some degree basic). But this is why it is so powerful! New users (including yourself) can usually start using the tool immediately without any real instruction.
Second, BaseCampHQ WILL organize your communication between your users. Everything is archived and saved. Deliverables (such as articles, graphic design images, even website files) can be stored within your portal (different packages offer different storage capacities). Updates & revisions are recorded and saved, too. Plus resources (like passwords or general guidelines) can be stored on private whiteboards.
The messaging tool, much like a discussion forum, is a great way to effectively communicate with your users (while documenting and storing the conversation for later review). Recently, they have integrated their CampFire (online chat) software for those looking for real-time chatting with users (this is an additional fee).
I admit it that when I first got BaseCamp, I thought it was kind of basic and would not add much value to my business. I joined using a free 30-day trial and expected not to make it the full 30-days.
I started by adding a couple of my article writers to the system and wanted to see how managing this would be different (than using just email communication).
After the first week, I was in love with this tool! Setting up an article writing task was simple (and more to the point...instead of writing a longer email, I would just state what I wanted and set up a due date). The writers and I started to use the messaging almost immediately. Their questions were answered more quickly. The email reminders they received from BaseCamp resulted in more timely delivery of my articles. I even started to set up Milestones to manage the full write article -> spin article -> submit article -> bookmark article process down to a science.
I loved it because things were getting done more quickly and I didn't need to harass them with personal reminders all of the time. Plus, my deliveries (in this case, the articles) where stored in the BaseCamp system and their payments were confirmed by a simple message reminder to that posting.
We actually communicated LESS but our overall effectiveness was MORE.
Since then, I have integrated my other freelancers into the system with the same ease. Plus, I found that my users communicate with each other now, too. I no longer need to be a "middleman" between my article writer and bookmarker. They do it themselves (while I watch in the background).
I now even set-up tasks and reminders for myself (rather than setting up Calender reminders in Outlook...the way I used to do it).
One other thing I use BaseCamp for is a mastermind group I participate in. We have created a project for our group and our BaseCamp project acts as a terrific private discussion portal for us to share our thoughts, schedule weekly phone calls, and swap documents. It has worked amazingly well.
Again, don't be mislead by BaseCamp's simplicity. In some ways, simple is better. This tool is powerful and it will manage your life more than you will believe. The fee ($24/month for Basic) is fairly reasonable. Most of you building your own online business won't need much more than a Basic account for now. Plus, you can trial BaseCamp for FREE for 30 days here. (There cancellation process is a simple 1-click button within your account settings, too, if it is not for you). It is at least worth checking out to see if it is right for you - there really is nothing to lose.