How Basecamp Makes Us A Stronger Team

Everyday, GCI works endlessly to achieve our client’s needs and wishes. We offer individuals the gift of choice. To do this successfully, we need to have a great internal team. One of the ways we’re able to have a fulfilling team is through the use of Basecamp. Good communication is key to building an efficient and awesome team. The following is an article written by our Product Director, Mulyadi Oey, and how he and his product team have come to enjoy the management tool itself. It was also first published on Medium.com.

I recently joined a startup company GCI (Gift Card Indonesia) and am thankful for the opportunity to lead its product team. As a new team member, there were tons of things (about the business, tech infrastructure, commercialization, etc.) I needed to understand while, at the same time, keeping the team flow going. As anyone who has experienced this type of job move might relate, this was not a walk in the park — both for me and the existing team.

I have been very fortunate to have my team fully supportive of me to find that equilibrium. After less than a month in the job, I had managed to introduce a few well-intended suggestions. And, every time I chose to do so, I hoped my intention and meaning would eventually outweigh the outcome, good or not so good. I can only control the former, not the latter.

So far, one apparent success is to see how my team have been benefited from using Basecamp. To be specific, we’re using Basecamp 3. This article is about that. It is a summary of items (can I say ‘testimonials’?) that my team had shared after using Basecamp together for a couple of weeks. And, surprise… we did it on Basecamp! 🙂 Yes, it did not take us long to notice and feel the positive changes this new tool had introduced into our working dynamics.

Thus, please allow me.

Reduced Email Overload

We love emails. We hate emails. This sounds all too common among us who communicate daily by emails. Email as a means of communication is great, but it’s safe to say you and I would pay a high price to avoid being overwhelmed by it. Do I need to remind you about the all-too-common scenario where we seem to be CC-ed on everything?

The great news is the number of emails on our inbox has dropped significantly since we used Basecamp. Our team is now used to throw almost every idea, task, discussion point, and file onto Basecamp. The others, who are on the notification list, can read and give instant feedback about it — and, of course, clap! The fact that those items (discussions, to-dos, etc.) must belong to a certain basecamp, it provides enough context automatically. For example, a document file in a ‘Mobile App Development’ basecamp must to that: mobile app development. In contrast, in an email conversation, which there is usually no contextual structure that readers could easily rely on, it is not uncommon we ask ourselves “What is this about?”

A Healthier Dose of Instant Messenger Chats

For this benefit, one of our teammates summed it well:

Basecamp also reduces my WhatsApp chats for work. This is somehow exhilarating! Now I can use WhatsApp back as a personal chat app, without feeling insecure that there were some urgent work-related chats lurking in between those long list of unread ones. You know how it feels when you weren’t aware that you’re replying a chat from your boss when initially what you had intended to do was to chat with a friend — on weekends. Worry-free now. 🙂

For a quick chat, we have been using the Campfire and Pings features. One interesting pattern we found was that since Basecamp is equipped with other complementing features (Message Board, To-dos, etc.), people had a tendency to distribute information in a more appropriate place. For example, my team has been using the to-do list for task assignments. With WhatsApp, everything was dumped into that single chat screen.

I love WhatsApp and understand that it was not built as a project management tool. Thus, in that context, it’s not fair to make a comparison with a tool like Basecamp. But, I have seen again and again, more organizations stretched WhatsApp for too many things (e.g. task assignment, announcement, etc.) without realizing that it had the potential to hurt their own productivity level.

A (Much) Better Alignment among Team Members

This one is my favorite: internal team alignment.

It’s very typical in an organization to have your manager understands the “bigger picture” of things, whereas you only know a subset of it. With Basecamp, we have slowly reset this imbalance — not perfect, but much better. With Automatic Check-ins, now I have more visibility about what my team is — has been or will be — doing; the same visibility also applies to them knowing how I usually spend my hours and my weekly focus. With Basecamp, you’d have more knowledge about what your supervisor is trying to achieve or struggling with; in that case, you might be able to relate how directly your work and effort align with it. It helps us to gain better understanding about the detailed pieces as well as the big picture.

In essence, the Automatic Check-ins feature supports our scrum concept naturally; with or without a daily standup, my team can easily find out what we have done, what we are doing, and anything blocking us.

It is pretty obvious that my team is one happy Basecampers.

Have a wonderful day.