I have heard this phrase many times throughout my career, “work smarter, not harder”. It is an interesting quote and one that makes you think…”how can I work smarter and not harder?” There are many ways to do that, it’s probably different for each person, and it depends on the task at hand.

Well, my team was trying to do just that…figure out a way to work smarter and not harder. We are a team of five that work remotely. We are spread across several Colorado cities and two states. We were working and getting things done, but our mailboxes and chat (we use Skype Business) were bombarded. Work requests and communications to stay in touch, project details and conversations, and brainstorming ideas, our Inboxes couldn’t keep up. It was overwhelming at times, and a challenge to keep up with the volume of communications. We needed a smart solution.

We brainstormed as a team and several of our colleagues had tried a tool called Basecamp. We talked about and investigated it and decided to give it a trial run on a small project to see what we thought and if it did indeed help us be more productive.

And the results have been fantastic! We now use @Basecamp for all of our new projects. Let’s just say: “We Love Basecamp!”

So, what is Basecamp?

Basecamp is a shared space and collection of tools to help teams do work together.

There are six basic tools in every Basecamp:

  1. Campfire: A group chat for quick chats on a topic
  2. Message Board: For more permanent messages that go out to everyone
  3. To Do’s: A list of to do’s and a way to keep track of all the tasks the team needs to complete
  4. Schedule: A place to keep important dates or events
  5. Check Ins: Short questions to ask an individual or the team to “check in” on status
  6. Docs and Files: An area where longer documents are kept and a place to upload files needed for project

What does Basecamp do for us?

It keeps us on task, focused, and organized. We know what everyone is working on, important dates, and receive notifications if anyone has questions or needs to pass on important information. It is like a project software that promotes collaboration and communication. We found as a team it is an effective tool for keeping everything for a particular project in one place and keeps everyone informed and on track at the same time.

Some of the things our team loves about Basecamp:

  • It doesn’t require experience with project software.
  • It is user friendly and easy to learn.
  • It is a great tool to track any kind of project.
  • Everyone on the team knows what they are responsible for and the due date.
  • Everyone knows who is working on what part of the project and when to expect completion.
  • It eliminates the never-ending loop of back and forth emails that can get lost or deleted.
  • It is straight-forward, quick to pick up, and super easy for clients to use (yes, clients can use it too).
  • Clients can view any project, edit, and get updates on everything that is happening within the project.
  • Easy to assign to-do list items for each stage of the project and for individuals on the team.
  • Once a to-do list item is completed, it’s checked off and everyone on the project is notified.
  • It provides the ability to keep all your content and images in one place.
  • It has also helps track non-billable internal projects that could otherwise get placed on the back burner or forgotten.
  • It creates more collaboration on projects that in the past may have only involved one person for project dissemination.
  • All content is stored in one location for access at any time.
  • Empowers employees to manage their own projects and still keeps the project leader/manager in the loop.

Overall, Basecamp integrates everyone into the project, contractors, employees, and clients. Recently, we completed a project converting Articulate Presenter files to Articulate Storyline files. Over the course of three months and three phases of development, our team of 10, working remotely, created over 300 .story files, over 400 published Storyline files, and over 100 PDFs. For a project of this scale, I can’t imagine trying to stay synced with the team without Basecamp.

So, yes, we love Basecamp, and yes, it is helping our team work smarter and not harder. Even though we are miles away from each other, we know minute to minute what is happening with any given project because our tasks and communications are consolidated in one place.

Basecamp’s logo is a smiling mountain…and one team member quoted it nicely: “I love the metaphor of climbing a mountain and all of the admin work is done at the Basecamp.” What a great analogy…We gather at the Basecamp as a group to work together to gather the information we need to climb that mountain of a project, big or small, and work smarter to reach the goal…a completed project with great satisfaction!

So, my challenge to you is to think about what internal processes or tools can help you and your team work smarter rather than harder. After all, work is a lot more fun when you’re not working harder than necessary and you enjoy the process of getting things done, right?

Here’s to getting things done the Smart way!