We’ve been using Basecamp at work, it’s really good. It’s easy enough to note down everything you need to whilst focusing on doing rather than delegating, deferring, due dates etc. In fact there aren’t really any due dates (unless you link a task to a milestone, and unless I’ve missed something). This is good if you are feeling proactive, because you will find something to do. It’s bad if there are 50 odd tasks lying around, and you don’t know which to do first. What it needs is a simple checkbox which means “do this first” when it’s ticked, so I don’t have to ask my superiors what’s next, because if I’m asking that, then we are wasting some of the time we are supposed to gain through using a collaboration app. True, you can reorder lists and items within lists, but this can become irksome when you start expecting a list to be where you left it (it reorders things for everyone).
Looking for alternatives (ideally, free and unlimited ones) for my out of work endeavours I came across TeamworkPM which is very similar to Basecamp. It adds lots of features (due dates, native reporting, good “late items” daily emails”, and more) without complicating the interface and forcing you to use those added features. What it does lack is the API and third-party applications that have built up around Basecamp over the years. If price is an issue, it is indeed cheaper.
After using all this hosted stuff (and despite being a Linux user with a WordPress blog) I almost forgot to check out the GPL/open-source/host it myself angle. Enter ProjectPier which, a bit like TeamworkPM, seems to want to look and function a lot like Basecamp. It isn’t as pretty as either of the hosted services, but as a bonus, it is only limited by the resources you can afford to throw at it. It is also themeable from the outset, deals with outgoing emails, and best of all for open source, seems to be a fairly active project.
Over the next few weeks I’ll do a writeup of both Basecamp and ProjectPier based on my experiences with them. TeamworkPM unfortunately does not figure at work or at home for now (because it’s not as widespread as Basecamp, and not as free as ProjectPier) but I intend to keep a close eye on developments there.