Switching to Basecamp 3

Recently, the Custom Fit Online team decided it was time to update our project management software. The primary motivator was to improve our company efficiency and streamline both our internal and external communications. We were also looking for tools that would make it easier to view how our projects were progressing, which would allow us to better plan our production schedule. 

Once we started to look into options for project management software, we realized that this was a vast and diverse sector, so we needed to narrow down our wish list to help us figure out which products were contenders for our business model.

Project Management Software

Our Project Management App Requirements

With a lot of different options, whichever product we chose would need to satisfy the following points:

Simple Migration - with 100+ projects currently stored in our current management program (some archived and some active), we needed a solution that wouldn’t be a headache to import our Basecamp projects to another project management application. We wanted to move everything over rather than switch back to the old system when we needed to reference something.

Fit Our Budget - the project management apps are diverse in capabilities, but they span the spectrum when it comes to pricing. We were looking for something that would fit our needs without adding unnecessary expenses. Our flexible company structure made more sense for us to find a product that worked on a single-use fee rather than a per-user or per-project model. For us, this equation needed to show a ‘return on our investment’.

Have True Integrations - with our current system, we found that we were using several external applications and then linking them to our projects (such as Google Drive File Management, Milanote Mood Boards etc.). We decided that we would prefer if most of the core tasks could be completed within the software application itself rather than externally when looking for a new project management application. We found that many project management platforms boasted tons of integrations, but when we tested them out, many just shared information rather than had the functionality embedded into them.

A lot of free trials and YouTube videos later, we ultimately decided to switch from our current project management software, Basecamp 2, to Basecamp 3. 

Our Reasons for Choosing Basecamp 3

As we were already with Basecamp 2, we figured that switching over to Basecamp 3 would present the easiest option when it came to project migration. 

One of the most significant considerations that influenced this was keeping Basecamp 2 for existing projects for free if you only create new projects in Basecamp 3. Basecamp provides a ‘sticky bar’ that allows easy click-through between the two Basecamp versions. This was extremely important for us. Basecamp allowed us to keep our older projects that we didn’t want to update in the Basecamp 2 option. All of these projects were archived. And we were able to update all active projects in Basecamp 3, with minimal ‘extra’ work.

Basecamp Project Management

Tips for Migrating from Basecamp 2 to Basecamp 3

There were, however, a few notes to share about the actual import. First, we reviewed ‘Moving Projects from Basecamp 2 to Basecamp 3’. The big asterix for us was the last point on the list of items that wouldn't be moved over: Client projects do not move over, but Basecamp 3 promised a workaround. While the workaround was relatively straightforward (removing clients from the Basecamp 2 projects and turning this feature off before importing), the next step turned out to be a bit of a hassle.

One of the FAQ documents warned that Clients might appear as team members, but the support team is happy to help convert these folks. This happened to every one of our clients. We found it was easier to simply delete these users out of our new Basecamp 3 account ourselves and then manually add them back to each project as clients. To do this, we first created a client contact list before deleting the contacts from Basecamp 2. If we hadn’t created a client contact list including team members for each company this would have been a disaster! 

Team Feedback After the Transition

Another reason we decided to upgrade from Basecamp 2 to 3 is the familiarity and ease of use by our team. We are a couple of months in now and have had no significant complaints from the staff about using the platform. However, there was a slight learning curve in which we realized we needed to stop using Basecamp 3 as if it was Basecamp 2 as there has been some significant layout and feature changes. 

Some of the feature changes that stood out to us include:

Calendar View - The full calendar view is replaced in Basecamp 3 by the Schedule view. Though different, there are pros and cons of both setups so you’ll have to decide which you prefer. One feature of the schedule that we prefer is that it is easy to export to a user’s personal calendar, which keeps our team on the same page and reduces missed meetings. 

Docs & Files in each project - We have found that some places where we used to link out to Google Docs can now create documents right in the Basecamp 3 project, which has streamlined our work quite a bit. When you must link out to a Google product, these integrate directly into the Docs & Files section, which allows for a cleaner switch between the two. We also love that we can now embed YouTube videos, Tweets, and more in messages or comments by pasting their link, which is much preferable to the awkward see link: _________  format we were using with Basecamp 2.

Forwarding Emails - With Basecamp 3, you can now also forward emails directly into a project. The ability to forward emails means no more copying and pasting! Once emails are forwarded, responses to these emails will automatically go to the basecamp thread which saves our team a lot of time. 

The Message Board - The thread style view where comments are added to the bottom, has streamlined our communication by eliminating duplicate topics and no longer having to search for an answer you know you’ve seen somewhere.

Ping! Messaging - In addition to the Message Board, there is now a Private messaging section, which is more of a chat feature that can be used one-on-one or in a small group. The Ping! feature is excellent when you just need a quick question answered or you want to remind someone of something in a timely fashion.

Bookmarks - Finally, the ability to bookmark important messages and to-do lists (as opposed to just starring an entire project) is another great time saver that keeps us much more organized.

Tracking Project Progression

As you can see, many of the features that appeal to us in Basecamp 3 save time and make our work more efficient, but what about the ability to view project progression?

We tried a lot of Gantt and KanBan integrations, but none of them worked as seamlessly as we were hoping. We were using Google Sheets to keep track of project timelines from a bird's eye view. So, we continued to utilize Google Sheets for this. However, when showing progress to clients, we have found the new Hill Charts feature in Basecamp 3 to be a helpful visual.

The Cost of Basecamp

And, of course, the cost did factor into our decision to move to Basecamp 3. As mentioned above, we were looking for a subscription model that matched our needs, and Basecamp 3 seemed the best option considering the following:

  • You can get a $150 credit on your account for upgrading to Basecamp 3 from Basecamp 2. 
  • Basecamp 3 pricing is based on unlimited projects that eliminated the possibility of paying for extra storage as we added more business or team members. 
  • You can keep Basecamp 2 for existing projects for free if you only create new projects in Basecamp 3.

Tell Us About Your Basecamp Transition Experience!

Do you use Basecamp? Are you looking to update your version of Basecamp? If yes, let us know about your experience. And if you have any questions about this transition leave them below. We’ll do our best to respond as soon as possible.

Roy McClean
May 06, 2021
By Roy McClean

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