Our New Project Management System

Our New Project Management System

As a project manager, I have obsessed for years to find the “best” project management system.

Since 2010 we have used Basecamp to manage nearly all of our website projects. We not only used it for new projects, but also to help us with our on-going projects as well. As a team we enjoy using Basecamp, so you might wonder why we would look elsewhere. It comes down to this: the majority of our clients do not like using Basecamp. We take for granted the tools we use and it is hard for us to step back and understand where our clients are coming from. So we began to ask several clients what they like and don’t like about Basecamp. The biggest issues for our clients was having to login and learning a new site. Is this enough for us to leave Basecamp? I would say yes, especially when clients would voice their pain with using it.

So this year I made it my goal to find a better solution.

The Search is On!

There is definitely no shortage of project management tools/sites out there. I have spent the last few years trying many of them and found that several would be great alternatives to Basecamp.

Here are the top three I recently tried out and they all have goofy web names, of course. If we had a larger team I would have chosen one of these to use internally.

Try ALL of the Sites! Meme image.

I am, admittedly, a huge sucker for these cool new sites. It’s like a new toy and I have to try them all out. Especially the latest ones, but every time I went back to what would be best for our clients and I had to eliminate some.

This search wasn’t just something I participated in. I did drag Michael and Meghan into a few of the ones I felt were top prospects. It was helpful to get their opinions, too and Michael kept me focused on our goal.

Do We Build Our Own?

I went as far a discussing many times building our own project management system and with Drupal that isn’t out of the question. We even came up with a hack for a “login-less” system. The downside to this would be the initial build, keeping the initial build within our own initial scope and finally maintaining it. Yes, we can scope creep on our own projects too and I could see that as a real potential issue. So building our own Drupal project management system was out.

Then we came up with a crazy simple solution of using one page for each project. Each page/project would include a comment system powered by disqus for communication. We would also list a few project links.

This idea seemed like the solution we were going to go with, but yet we finally found a more simplified solution.

Our New System

The winning solution was so simple it is still hard to call it a “system”. We boiled it down to just creating a team email account we share access to. This isn’t a group email that sends emails to many accounts, but a standard email we are always logged in to. So we emailed all our clients that we are no longer using Basecamp. Then we asked them to remove our personal email accounts from their address books and only use our team email address. I don’t feel this would work for larger teams, but again since we are small this works great. Along with a shared Google Apps email account we are still using:

A Continual Evolution

I still don’t see this as our final solution. We want to give it time to evaluate how it works for us and our clients. So far we have only received positive feedback. Many of our clients were happy to hear we were leaving Basecamp and with the simplicity of the new solution.

I will continue to post about our progress with this new system.

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