Ryan Singer is the co-designer of 37 Signals’ Basecamp Classic, agile project management software used worldwide. With the release of “new” Basecamp, the focus is on speed and simplicity. During his interview with the team at Software Advice, he offered the following five tips and tricks that the 37 Signals crew employ to streamline their own projects:

  1. Seek and Destroy – When optimizing a project for functionality, you may find steps to take that may lead to a better end-product but aren’t essential for completion. 37 Signals finds and groups action items that fall under this category at the bottom of the project to-do list and then marks them with a symbol. This makes it a breeze to identify easy items to skip over if the team is up against a deadline.
  2. Digital Chowder – At the beginning of a project, 37 Signals determines the most important areas of concern and creates to-do’s for them that must be completed before a project can be finished. During this process, a variety of action items are found which may not fit into a specific area. These items are grouped together as a “chowder list.” This makes a miscellaneous task list easy to create but, Singer warns, “you need to ensure the list doesn’t get too long: this may indicate that the team isn’t focused.”
  3. Master Your Domain – For lengthy projects of three or more months, project managers often create 1,000-mile view to-do lists that incorporate every teams’ to-do lists. This gives PMs a way to see the full view of a project while keeping teams focused and on-task.
  4. The Daily Show – While a great deal of traditional firms rely on stand-up meetings as an integral part of the agile project management process, 37 Signals replaces them with daily “Status Updates” message threads. When a team member completes their work, they post a message to the Basecamp project titled “Status Update.” Using bullet points, they outline the action items they addressed that day. As others finish up, they reply to that message with their own updates. Ryan says, “This creates a live feed that keeps project managers up-to-date and helps them address existing problems and questions.
  5. Keep it Under Wraps – Feedback from those outside your team can be useful, critical even. But, Singer recommends keeping the project private to the team working on it during the development stage. This avoids the project being sidetracked by feedback before it gains momentum.

Ryan Singer encourages users to discover their own creative and unique ways to use Basecamp. He adds that Basecamp shines most when being used as a collaborative tool, and functions least effectively for tracking singular issues.


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