There are dozens of project management options out there - I would know, I did a trial on most of them. I'm all about creating systems and streamlining things in my business. I was hesitant to go with Basecamp, just because of the monthly fees, but it's definitely worth it. My client project process has become much simpler.
I use Google Calendar for myself to keep track of client project timelines. I made these dates clear with my client in the contract, but I didn't have an organized system to communicate with my clients. Those of you who work with several clients at once know how overwhelming it can be to get all the different parts and details with each project organized. So today, I'm sharing a behind-the-scenes look at how I use use Basecamp to keep up with client projects and collaborations.
Creating a new Project
When you're ready to start working with a new client, you will create a new Basecamp (previously called a Project in Basecamp 2). There are a few important details you need to fill out when creating a new Basecamp:
- Name it (personalize it to your client, i.e. - Company Name Website)
- Add important dates to the calendar (timeline, due dates, etc.)
- Add any to-dos to the checklist
Once you're set up, you'll land on the main page for that particular Basecamp. It looks like this:
Within each project, Basecamp allows you to add others from your team, or your client. If you opt to pay more, there is a separate "Clientside" view so that your client doesn't see everything. Since I don't work with a team, and it's just my client and I communicating, I use the "regular" version of Basecamp 3. If I were working with a team of people, and didn't want the client to see all client conversations, the restricted view would be great!
Pro tip: Set-up your project fully before inviting the client to join. When the client does join, they'll log in to see all the details of their project already inside!
After you invite other team members or clients, you can assign to-do items with deadlines to specific people. They'll get a notification of this assignment, and the dates will appear prominently when they log in to view the project. Every time you start a new discussion, members will get an email notification of the activity. (But, you can adjust the settings and only make certain people get notified.)
My favorite feature of Basecamp by far is Campfire, which is the message threads – almost like a chat room. Before using Basecamp, project communication always took place in email. Sometimes, email threads would get up to 80-100 emails long, or I'd have to sort through 7 different email threads to find information or files.
The message board, previously referred to as Discussion threads, is where you can have separate conversations about each part of the project. My client or I can each start a new discussion thread for different topics, for example, I'm working on a total overhaul with a photographer, so we have different threads for different projects - marketing materials, web design, logo, etc.
I know that as freelancers, many of us struggle with clients keeping to the timelines and deadlines we set. I don't have a timeline with various deadlines throughout the process, just a start and end date. But, having the Schedule board with the date clearly shown is super helpful!
And, as the owner of the Basecamp account, I can see all of my various project dates on the Schedule page.
Create to-dos for your team or your client, and assign it to them. You can also set deadlines in this feature as well. Usually, I use the to-dos area to list out questionnaires that need to be completed, items that need sent, etc.
Docs and files
This area makes it easy to see at a glance any important files relevant to the project. I upload logo drafts directly to Basecamp, to keep everything in one place. While I do request that my clients send me content via Dropbox, there are usually some files that eventually get sent via Basecamp, too – forgotten images, swapping out images, etc.
What else i love in basecamp 3
In Basecamp's own words, "When you use Basecamp you’ll have an easy-to-reference, completely documented history of who said what, and when they said it, should the time ever come when you need to settle a disagreement between involved parties." But here are a few more specific features I love about Basecamp 3.
- Snooze notifications -- turn off emails after you've shut down for the day!
- Run a report of what's happening in your project
- Search function
- Being able to @ tag your team member or client
The one thing I miss from Basecamp 2? Templates. In Basecamp 2, you can create project templates, which saved me time from not having to create the same "to-dos" and such. But, not enough of a problem to be a deal-breaker and keep me on Basecamp 2!
What do you love using to stay organized?
Grab my Systems Roster!
Sign up to get my comprehensive list of tools I've used over the last five years.