Project Management in a Small Company: Part 1

Using Basecamp


Before joining Signal.X I worked for a large company with a very well-defined project management method, many PMPs, lots of resources, an intricate IT system, and many, many, many rules and regulations. This was both good and bad – good because everyone used the same method which led to predictable results, and bad because innovation and creativity were severely constrained.

At a small company it’s important to have some structure while at the same time allowing for the individual creativity and innovation that is often absent from larger companies. At Signal.X we have been using Basecamp 3 with great success.

Basecamp provides the basic structure for project management while at the same time allowing some personal freedom on how it’s used. The main components of a Basecamp are shown below.

Campfire – Campfire discussions are quick conversations between team members. These discussions remain in Basecamp, allowing you to go back and review earlier conversations. We use this for quick discussions and Q&A.

Message Board – The Message Board is closely related to Campfire. We use messages over campfires to post longer messages, when we want everyone on the team to be aware of the message, and when we want further discussion.

To-dos – This feature is used extensively. You can create multiple to-do lists, allowing for both project and individual lists. You can assign To-dos to anyone on the team, and those people get reminder emails as the task due date approaches.

Schedule – The Schedule feature lets you know what’s happening for every month in the project. To-dos are automatically imported and you can create scheduled events such as project start date, important milestones, deliverable due dates, etc.

Automatic Check-ins – Automatic Check-ins are used to send automatic messages to all or selected team members. We have not used this feature so far.

Docs & Files – This is one of the most important features. Docs & Files is a repository of important documents and files including schedules, customer-supplied information, open issues lists, etc. You can create folders, link Google Docs, upload files, and create new documents. We use this feature to share documents with our clients, which is especially useful for large documents that are too big to send via email.

This post is part 1 of a 4-part series on Project Management in a Small Company. Stay tuned!