It’s been about 2 years, now, that MightyData has been using Basecamp to manage projects. I previously wrote about all the features available, but Basecamp keeps them coming. And, after years of daily use, we have put some of our own structure and processes to it so that it is much more customized to our needs.
Basecamp’s flexibility allows any team to develop its own processes around the simple structure. You can be loose or tight with how you start projects, how you manage scope and development within them, and how your tasks are scheduled and assigned.
Tight vs. Loose Project Management
Coming from a strict background of project management for an advertising agency, I am definitely tight with how I set up and run our projects. Many would be surprised to learn that I have loosened up a bit and have become a little more flexible, but for the most part, I am still very structured. I believe that structure is necessary to complete all tasks, in scope, on budget and on time. Basecamp, as a company, is known to be very loose with how projects are set up, as Holly Regan noted in her blog post. So, neither is right or wrong – it is simply what works best for your team and your goals.
As Part 1 of my 3-Part series, I am going to give you a glimpse into how MightyData‘s structure is set up to allow for easy project start up.
Our structure for new projects is always the same. Each project starts with essential the same structure:
- Kick Off Call
- Developer Notes (the customer doesn’t see this list)
- Developer Discovery Questions
- Developer To-Dos
- Initial User Feedback
- Test Cases
- Alpha Testing Feedback
- Beta Testing Feedback
- Project Support/Other Requirements
- Wish List
Other than scope, the same initial to-dos are under the to-do lists. So, rather than reinvent the wheel, I have a template called, “Development Projects.” When we win a new project, I start with that template. And then, edit!
Not every project includes reporting deadlines or FileMaker Server installation, but my template has every step I can think of included in them. It is always easier to delete than to remember to add. So, my initial to-do of milestones might include reporting and server installation and FileMaker software purchases – all of which are in the correct order for a standard project.
Once the individual project is open, I title it by the customer’s company name, add the summary paragraph from our proposal with any notes of anything specifically not included, and then start editing my templated lists.
The initial template can then be updated with anything new we learn or add to our process, allowing behind the scenes flexibility, and so we remember it for the next project.
Tune in next time for Using Basecamp: Scope and Development. In the meantime, if you have any great suggestions for how to use templates, please share in the comments below.