How to Map your Process with Basecamp 3?


Introduction to Basecamp 3

Basecamp is a very popular project management tool, especially for those in a digital agency environment. It is used by lots of web companies to help them collaborate with clients as they manage their projects. Dburns is the number 1 Los Angeles Web Design agency in USA. Basecamp has had its first major redesign since 2012. Many tweaks, changes, and additions have been made to create a more powerful tool. Basecamp says they have taken their best ideas, layered in customer insight and feedback, added new stuff, and then created the best version of Basecamp ever.

Digital Project Management

In the ever-changing digital realm creating a process that is very transparent for everyone plus easily customizable and improved on the fly can be challenging. We at DBurns went on a journey before we finally established a productive flow.

With projects varying scope, industry, and goals, it was hard to create a structure that will allow our teams to move efficiently through the project, and still be able to suggest improvements without delaying or losing track of what we needed to change.

Project Managment Tools

We have switched back and forth from one system to the other. We tried Wrike, Asana, Roadmap, Trello, all great products but not exactly what we were looking for.

We have been using Basecamp since 2009, and late last year we decided to upgrade from Classic to Basecamp 3. This move allowed us to start with a clean state and rethink our processes, task structures, and automation to ensure all projects were running efficiently on time and budget.

Below I show how we structured our operations and to-dos with Basecamp.

How to Map Your Process on Basecamp

Up until recently, we had a Trello Board for each client which got copied from a template board we had with our process. Each Trello card contained “steps” so whoever was onboarding the project could clearly see what had been done or not and could also know what next steps to take.

Trello Process Mapping DBurns
Master Marketing Process Trello Board
Trello - Step by Step Process Mapping
Trello – Step by Step Process Mapping

To create this board, we followed these steps:

  1. List all services provided by your company
  2. Breakdown extensive services into sub-services
  3. Define with hands-on team members the steps needed to deliver a service from start to deliverable.
  4. Once all services and steps were mapped we created a Trello card for each of them

This setup worked perfectly for us initially, however, after a few months using it, our team was struggling to keep communication, files, and due dates updated across our client’s boards. Also in case, a team member had detected a hole in the process, or, wanted to suggest an improvement, it will be somewhat cumbersome. Getting it approved, published in the template board and then replicated into the on-going projects was a painful process, and ultimately our team would be demotivated to suggest changes.

With all these challenges, we needed to find a way where we could communicate, plan, set due dates, and manage all of our operations from one place. That’s when B3 came in handy.

Why Basecamp 3 is Better Than Basecamp Classic

You don’t have to switch from Basecamp Classic if you’re already a Basecamp customer. With traditional Basecamp, you can continue to manage your projects as usual and can keep using it that way forever if you wish. However, there’s no denying that Basecamp 3 is much better than Basecamp Classic. Basecamp 3 has many benefits over Basecamp Classic.

The interface of B3 is entirely new, and every tool on there has been updated in many ways. There’s also a brand new list of stuff you can take advantage of too. Key features include integrated chat, instant messaging, automatic check-ins, and more. There are also unlimited projects for users, whatever package you may be on. In the past, only premium users could enjoy limited projects on Basecamp. Even the entry level plan is unlimited in Basecamp 3.

Although there are a ton of benefits when using Basecamp 3, there are a couple of things that aren’t included in this version. The calendar has changed, so you get a line by line agenda view rather than the traditional grid view. None of the other changes made to B3 should be deal breakers for you, though. Many people find that these updated and added features are welcome additions to Basecamp. Most users find that B3 is even more straightforward, more powerful, and flexible than the traditional model.

How DBurns Benefits From Using Basecamp 3

We finally decided to migrate all of our projects over to Basecamp and centralized everything in it. First, we created a template project, which can be used to start new projects as well as to copy specific to-do lists from on project to the other. Below I show how we make it happen:

  1. Create a Project Template

    Basecamp 3 - Project Templates
    Basecamp 3 – Project Templates
  2. Each Trello card is now a “To-Do List.”

    Basecamp 3 - To-Do List Template
    Basecamp 3 – To-Do List Template
  3. Each step in the Trello card is now a to-do, which makes everything easier as we can set a due date or data range for each to-do. Each step/to-do is now open for communication between parties involved

    B3 - To-do Communication
    B3 – To-do Communication
  4. When someone has an idea, they simply post as a To-Do under our Company’s project, and they assign it to whoever needs to review and approve. Once the to-do is approved it gets closed, and the person who approved creates a to-do for the initiator to go ahead and add it to our project template and copy it to existent project

    Process Improvement Request
    Process Improvement Request

Below are a few extra points of how Basecamp 3 helps DBurns on our day-to-day operations.

  • Structured and Continuous Process Improvement: By using templates we can add process improvements on the fly and just copy those changes to existent running projects.
  • Simple to follow To-Dos, by using To-Do Lists grouped by feature rather than discipline, we can clearly see the progress of a project and how much is still left to be done.
  • Centralized Communication: We keep all of our communication in one place, for both, team and client-sides.
  • Less Third-Party Systems: Our project management infrastructure runs on three platforms, Basecamp 3, Toggl, G Suite, and Online Quickbooks.

How about you, what are other tools you use for project management and client communication?

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