Organization and management solutions (Basecamp, Backpack, Highrise)

Friday, March 30th, 2007 @ 9:53 | technology

37 Signals is a developer focusing on software as service applications. I initially found them via a colleague’s recommendation of Basecamp, their project management tool.

I’ve been using Basecamp ever since, finding it very useful both at work and in my hobby project of managing a videogame developer team. It’s pretty great for to do lists and milestones per project. Actually I have a problem now, because my company forces me to use Microsoft Outlook’s calendar, which does not play with Basecamp. So I use Bacecamp for everything except for meetings that I have with people in my office. I’ve previously tried to use Microsoft Project, but it’s just not good at all, forcing all kinds of clutter on you. Actually MS Project’s former develoment manager has promoted Basecamp, saying it’s first proper project management solution out there. I totally agree so far – it does only what you need it to do and being web-based, is always available.

Their other big solution is Backpack, meant for personal information management. It basically gives you a simple interface to build web pages for whatever need you have. I use it to store passwords and lists of things I want to remember over a long time, something I’ve used GMail drafts for before – admittedly clumsy. Also when I’m working on something that I need to gather notes for over a period of time, Backpack is the right solution. If I was still in school, I’m sure I’d be a heavy user. Professionally I don’t see much use for it, though.

Last week 37 Signals launched Highrise, a combination of a contact manager and simple CRM system. Upon first exposure, I think I like it a lot. There’s some overlap with Basecamp, which makes me scratch my head a bit – like they both have tasks, but you can’t interlink them. I think I’ll need to give it a go and see if it suits my work or not. In any case, it seems like a great place to store personal contacts, too. The basic idea is that you can attach notes to people and form cases to which people can be attached.

These web-based solutions have changed the way I work considerably, and definitely for the better. Basecamp alone has helped my organization troubles immensely.

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