Project Management in a Small Company: Part 2
Team Members and Clients
When you create a Basecamp you can invite internal team members and set up clients. By default everything in a Basecamp is available to the team members but not the clients. Since everything is available to the team members be careful who you invite. For example if you invite a vendor to the team that vendor has access to everything in Basecamp. Since this isn’t always desirable you may want to treat vendors as clients so you can control what they can see.
It’s very easy to send messages, files, and documents to one or more clients. I really like the fact that you must deliberately choose to communicate with your clients because it reduces the chances that you will send something that you really did not want the client to see (I think we have all done that at some point in our careers!).
When you set up the client side you enter the client’s name, email address, and title. To send an email to the client you click on the “Email the client” tab in the main screen and select which of the clients you would like to email. Internal team members can be included as well. If the client responds to this email his response is recorded in Basecamp – a very handy feature indeed. Too often important emails are not properly recoded which could lead to misunderstandings in the future.
You can also give the client a PIN number and web address that allows him to view the information on the client side. Our customers have indicated that they really like this feature, and the use it often.
Basecamp is very flexible on how notifications are emailed to the team members. By default each team member gets emails about the current activity, to-dos that are imminent, files that are posted, etc. Each team member can customize this level of activity to suit their own needs.
A Windows and mobile app are available, and they work very well. I have the mobile app installed on my phone so that I am kept informed of project activity when I’m out of the office. It is easy to stop getting notifications and to turn them back on again.
There are other features that we are just beginning to explore. These include reports (what’s overdue, what’s coming due, to-dos, what’s on someone’s plate, what has someone been up to), a list of the latest activity, and pings (conversations with specific team members). In addition there is a good search tool, which comes in very handy as the number of documents and conversations grow throughout the project.
Using Basecamp has allowed us to provide structure to our projects without impeding individualism or creativity. It becomes a repository of important project information, improves communications with our customers, handles important scheduling events, and in general increases the level of communication throughout the project. We have now begun to create and use Basecamps for our internal projects, work assignments, and best practices. The level of participation is high and everyone seems to be happy with its ease of use and features.
This post is part 2 of a 4-part series on Project Management in a Small Company. Stay tuned!