BaseCamp Project Management: Blinded by Ideology

Some people just don’t get it.  They are so caught up in their own blind ideology they won’t consider alternative views.

I’ve been looking for a reasonably-priced web-based project management system for quite some time, and yesterday I thought I found it: BaseCamp from 37Signals.  Problem is, after an email exchange with the founder Jason Fried, they don’t now and won’t ever (he claims) support a visual view of a project in the form of a GANTT chart.

Why won’t BaseCamp ever support GANTT charts?  Maybe it’s BaseCamp’s competitive positioning, or maybe it’s because of ideology; based on BaseCamp’s Manifesto, Jason just doesn’t believe in them.  From my email conversation with Jason, is seems to be the latter.  Plus, isn’t a manifesto ideological by definition?

Why do I need GANTT charts?  Because I’m a visual learner and I need a GANTT chart to be able to see the big picture related to a large number of parallel projects that all share resources. I need this so I can keep from missing deadlines when I’m bombarded with almost literally 100 choices for how to spend my time each day.  I even proposed I could try to put BaseCamp and DBI Technologies together for DBI to provide optional GANTT charting of BaseCamp projects via DBI’s Solutions::Schedule product, but Jason wasn’t even interested in entertaining the idea, even if someone else was doing the work.

It’s a damn shame to find a product like BaseCamp that does 90% of what I need but, because of IMO blind ideology, its owner Jason Fried won’t even consider adding a feature for which arguably 65% of people would benefit. Jason’s last comment to me was: “Look at it this way… Go use another tool, get the Gantt charts, but miss the other 90%. Which tradeoff is worth more to you?“  The sad thing is, if it were not for blind ideology, it wouldn’t have to be either/or. :-(

134 comments ↓

#1 Jason Fried on 10.28.05 at 2:28pm

We all have ideologies. Yours includes an absolute necessity for Gantt charts. Ours doesn’t. We just have different opinions of what is required for good project management.

#2 Mike Schinkel on 10.28.05 at 4:32pm

Jason:

(Please read to the end because I included a proposal)

I’ve been desperately trying to find a way to manage the production of our of How-To-Select Guides without missing deadlines. I’ve felt overwhelmed by the process, but communications among the team hasn’t been an issue because most of what we do is work in parallel, i.e. ad sales doesn’t need much interaction with editorial, we just need to all meet the same deadlines. It wasn’t until I put everything in MS-Project and was able to print out a GANTT chart that I was able to finally "see" it all and reduce my anxiety. I may not be particularly bright, but I have learned different people process information differently, and most are visual. I need something visual to comphrend the timeline. If that is ideology then so be it.

BTW, I agree with you that Microsoft has bloatware and MS-Project, even with Project Server, doesn’t meet our needs for a geographically-dispersed collaborative team which is why I’ve been looking for alternatives.

What would I have expected instead and not called it ideology? If you had replied with the following I wouldn’t have viewed it as an ideology: "We don’t really think it is important, but we respect that you need that capability. We are planning a web service API and will consider input from you and/or a third party about what our API needs to provide you so that you will be able to use BaseCamp and still have your other needs met."

Not only were you not willing to listen to my needs and see if there was some way to meet them, you told me what I said I needed didn’t make sense (both implicitly and later explicitly.) You made sure it wasn’t even possible by saying you’d never support it and by closing the door on discussions to have a third party offer the feature.

I definitely understand your reasons for wanting to keep things simple and not trying to do too much. But take a look at SalesForce.com; they give the ability to add on 3rd party features via their API and that allows them to keep what they have to maintain simple plus it gives their customers the ability to meet unique needs without being told "Sorry: not only no, but never."

I’ll make a bet with you. Send a survey to your customers asking if they would like a GANTT chart view, but let me review and suggest changes to the survey before it goes out. We can even send out using our survey tool. If only 1/3 or less of your customers would like a GANTT chart view, I’ll write a public retraction on my blog saying I was in the wrong, and I’ll update the currently blog entry with a link to the new post. If more than 1/3 of your customer would like a GANTT chart view, then you’ll work with DBI Technologies Schedule control to provide a GANTT view of a project and I’ll become a customer. Deal?

P.S. BTW, the main reason I need the view is to be able to see what is due today, tomorrow, this week, this month, and every time after. You could even provide a timeline view. But without such a view of my prorities, I just keep missing deadlines.

#3 Jason Fried on 10.28.05 at 6:35pm

Mike, we are listening to you. I traded nearly 10 emails with you today discussing this. We just see things differently, that’s all. We will not be building Gantt charts into Basecamp.

#4 Mike Schinkel on 10.28.05 at 9:29pm

Thanks again for the reply Jason. You have every right not to include it, but it doesn’t stop me from being frustrated that you won’t. You are definitely a new breed of business person; one that may well be the future according to many of your blog posts, but one that I have difficult understanding. Numerous of your BaseCamp customers are pleading for GANTT charting (http://www.basecamphq.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=49 and http://www.basecamphq.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=652) yet you don’t give any reasons for not including it, just that you don’t want to. My mantra has always been to delight my customers. Forgive me, but I just don’t understand the "No, sorry; never gonna happen" mentality. FWIW.

#5 PaulS on 11.15.05 at 12:51pm

I would have to agree with Mike here. If you can’t satisfy your customers, someone with a web based simple project management solution that contains a GANTT chart will.

#6 ingus on 03.28.06 at 4:39pm

I also feel that there should be some visual features added. Also Laotse once said: "Tell me and I will forget it, Show me and I will remember it, Let me do it and I will understand it!" That’s all.. just a possibility to remember better and to keep focus on very important deadlines.

#7 Why Basecamp Sux on 06.23.06 at 4:40pm

See http://www.WhyBasecampSux.org

#8 Andrew on 02.15.07 at 9:41am

We’re switching to http://www.goplan.org/ as soon as it arrives :-)

#9 Mike Schinkel on 02.15.07 at 1:35pm

Andrew: Cool!

#10 Mike Schinkel on 02.15.07 at 1:35pm

Andrew: What caused you to choose GoPlan?

#11 Brad Fults on 03.27.07 at 9:53pm

Though Jason is notoriously polarized and polarizing, his position makes more sense in this situation. Basecamp is a 37signals product built by 37signals with 37signals’ values. The core problem is that your "one necessary feature" is different for everyone and it’s in direct conflict with a stated company goal.

It doesn’t matter if 33% or 60% or 99% of Basecamp users want Gantt charts if 37signals doesn’t want to take the product in that direction. Surely many Toyota drivers would vote for a flying car feature if given the chance; similarly many Starbucks customers would enjoy fruit smoothies; as would many Old Navy customers enjoy buying cheap computers at those stores, but none of these customer wants are within the stated scope of the respective companies’ goals.

37signals provides the customer with its idea of an adequate project management tool and a complete API to go along with it. This way, the core product solves 90% of users’ needs most of the time and developers can try filling in the last 10% (always a different 10%, mind you) with applications built on top of the API.

If this were Microsoft instead of 37signals and Bill Gates were refusing to add a feature to a product that enjoyed user lock-in and market dominance without an open API, the answer would be entirely different.

My suggestion is to take Basecamp at face value and build upon it if it makes sense or choose another product if not. Plenty of us get by fantastically with just the core of Basecamp.

#12 Mike Schinkel on 03.27.07 at 10:40pm

Brad: Thanks for the comment.

"It doesn’t matter if 33% or 60% or 99% of Basecamp users want Gantt charts if 37signals doesn’t want to take the product in that direction. Surely many Toyota drivers would vote for a flying car feature if given the chance; similarly many Starbucks customers would enjoy fruit smoothies; as would many Old Navy customers enjoy buying cheap computers at those stores, but none of these customer wants are within the stated scope of the respective companies’ goals. "

You are comparing apples and oranges. People buying Toyotas know the cars don’t fly before they buy them. Starbucks customers can go to Smoothie King and for that smoothie but still get their coffee at Starbucks. Old Navy customers can still wear their clothes while using computers from CompUSA.

OTOH, Basecamp markets their product as meeting all project management needs when in reality it only meets a small subset of project management needs (i.e. the needs of a web development shop building client’s websites) because of their ideology. So when customers sign up, they don’t know any better and then they become locked in which can cause projects to fail (I speak from experience) and possibly even companies to fail. Something I feel strongly about, which I’m sure is controversial, is I believe companies have a moral obligation to their customers, and I think 37 Signals is failing in that regard. For products where the attributes are obvious (cars) or where there is no switching cost (beverages and clothing) this is not an issue. But look at people’s response to Microsoft and their lock-in. If people could switch w/o pain few would hate Microsoft.

The problem with Basecamp and 37 Signals’ ideology is that they present themselves as customer-friendly, gain customer’s confidence, and then betray a large segment of those customers by not addressing their legitimate needs. It’s my belief that companies have the right to choose their direction, but they are acting immorally if they negatively affect a significant portion of their customer base when it is in their power to do otherwise.

"37signals provides the customer with its idea of an adequate project management tool and a complete API to go along with it. This way, the core product solves 90% of users’ needs most of the time and developers can try filling in the last 10% (always a different 10%, mind you) with applications built on top of the API."

For at least six months after I wrote this post there was no API, and for at least another six months the API could not add a project. Instead of addressing Basecamp customer’s needs with an API in a timely fashion, they launched other products. Oh, and by the way, it’s not acceptable to require customers to implement core functionality needed by a majority of customers.

"If this were Microsoft instead of 37signals and Bill Gates were refusing to add a feature to a product that enjoyed user lock-in and market dominance without an open API, the answer would be entirely different."

Why is it acceptable for a company to have an attitude that they aren’t going to address "existing" customer needs? Being smaller shouldn’t give a company a pass for leaving their customer’s high and dry.

"My suggestion is to take Basecamp at face value and build upon it if it makes sense or choose another product if not. Plenty of us get by fantastically with just the core of Basecamp."

I am; their face is that of a company that views its own whims as being more important than customer needs. I post this so that, hopefully, others who might choose Basecamp and then be negatively affected by their attitude are given an opposing viewpoint before they get locked in, not after.

#13 Pete on 06.03.07 at 2:59am

Please take a look at http://www.letsprove.com another alternative to basecamp for project management software

#14 KJ on 07.03.07 at 4:16pm

Or try <a href="http://www.chmuraecon.com/OnStage/">OnStage</a>… decent pm/project portal software.

#15 Adrian on 07.05.07 at 2:26am

Can anyone help please and pretty please. I have been comparing all the various different softwares for the last week for my company (15 users). Basically the ideal software for us would basecamp + Gantt - but due to Basecamp’s reluctance to get a Gantt chart in there…I need an alternative. It simple, I m looking for an application that is:
- user friendly (and looks nice)
- gantt chart (ideally interactive) with task dependancy
- ideally somewhere where i can store project templates (as we have a lot of recurring processes)
- an application where on the front page/dashboard i can put our company latest news
- web-based application
- with a forum/discussion board that I can use as a knowledge management tool
- (document sharing ideally).

Now if I could get this I would be super-duper happy!! If I could get the above with a PERT feature I would be extatic!! But I m not dreaming.

After reviewing over a hundred software here is where I am at:
- Hyperoffice is not bad but a shame i find to split personal/group features and no interactive Gantt chart
- Project 360 is not bad but am not sure they have got Gantt chart
- Tasland has all the features but is not userfriendly and very slick
- SimplyPM is probably the best but it would require some changes on our server that I am not keen on
- Letsprove VO - am finding out if they have Gantt and if I can customise front page to have news section - if they do this could be the best
- Worksmart seems also good but am not sure if I can have a latest news on the front page…

Can anyone help to recommend what would work…this woudl really really be appreciated because I am really at lost here!!!

THANKS A MILLION!!

#16 damormino on 07.13.07 at 12:21am

<i>I am; their face is that of a company that views its own whims as being more important than customer needs. I post this so that, hopefully, others who might choose Basecamp and then be negatively affected by their attitude are given an opposing viewpoint before they get locked in, not after.</i>

Does Basecamp really lock users in. It looks like they allow an export in XML:
<i>You can export your messages, comments, to-do lists, milestones, and time tracking data in XML format. We also offer an API that allows you to access your data from other tools that you use or create.</i>

Am I missing something here?

#17 Julia on 08.14.07 at 8:16am

Basecamp does give you an XML export. I believe there are also 3rd party tools that use the basecamp API to do the export. It is just a pain transferring that into any other system. When I’d finally had enough with basecamp and 37s, that is one of the I went with OnStage Project Portal - http://www.OnStagePortal.com. I emailed their customer service and they were able to import the basecamp XML for me.

#18 Andrew on 08.18.08 at 1:08pm

Jason seems to be missing one simple point: user choice. The more choices the product gives to users, the bigger the chance the product will have to gain acceptance. Not providing gantt charts, or at least task dependencies and project time estimations based on those dependencies, hurts their product. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t provide it. Even if they themselves don’t like them, doesn’t mean there aren’t others that do. And the mindset that he has: “Use us for 90%, or go someplace else and only get 10%” smacks of arrogance seen only in the likes of Microsoft.

Too bad. I did like Basecamp’s initial features, but the lack of gantt charts, time estimation, critical path, etc, makes Basecamp nothing more than a glorified to-do list, which is NOT project management. I’ll look elsewhere….

#19 MikeSchinkel on 08.20.08 at 7:02pm

@Andrew: Great comment. Of course, I clearly agree… :)

#20 Ron Fletcher on 12.24.08 at 6:57am

Hi all,
Check out PlanningForce at http://www.planningforce.com/ . Hope it offers what you are looking for with Gantt charts and lots of other stuff for PMs…

#21 Bryan Welfel on 02.18.09 at 11:08pm

This debate does not appear to be over a matter of ideology - it seems to be over the fact that Basecamp is not project “planning” software when some of us wish that it was. I was in the process of comparing project management solutions and realized that I, similar to Mike, was also looking to have project planning functionality. From what I have gathered through my searches, Basecamp can not produce useful Gannt charts because it lacks the concept of constraints/predecessors. It is simply not feasible to generate a critical path analysis, or a useful Gantt chart without this functionality.

Basecamp has obviously been accepted in the project “management” community, but now we, part of this community, are requesting more. It becomes a matter of will 37 signals supply our demand, or will we have to look elsewhere?

Until there is a company that offers a web-based project management and planning software solution, I will use Basecamp (because it is so pretty! and good for communication and time tracking) along side Microsoft Project. However, when a solution that offers project management in as simple interface as Basecamp but also offers me the capability to enable project planning (hidden to project stakeholders that do not wish to be bothered with planning), I will migrate to that solution. 37 solutions… or competition, opportunity is knocking!

#22 Mitu on 02.27.09 at 11:05am

My opinion is that basecamp position is incorrect.
Off course, they don’t like gantt or even anything that visually simplifies the understanding of a big project, but, why don’t offer it althought you don’t like it?

I mean, offer gantt and let the people decide to use it or not.
As much functionalities it has, more people will use it, it’s easy.

#23 Experienced CIO & IT Manager on 03.04.09 at 1:09pm

Two things:

1) Reading about the attitude of 37s triggers rings several warning signals. I would not choose them as a supplier, despite the fact that otherwise they might have a quite cool product portfolio. When I work with a supplier I want to see cooperation because it is an insurance towards a dynamic world. When the envinronment changes the software has evolve and the supplier must be willing to improve the product. If they start by saying that the product will NOT EVOLVE, how can we manage the future?
It is better to choose another supplier right away.

2) The kernel of these tools is to integrate project MANAGEMENT and project PARTICIPATION. Different people have too look at the same data in different ways, thus the same tasks or activities can be edited and presented either as lists, Calendars, Gantt, PERT charts etc. Undeniably there is a prioritization of features in every product, and 37 have made their choices. But they should be more flexible and sensible on their communication with customers. Gantt charts are very useful!

#24 Brad Beattie on 03.07.09 at 3:54am

Not sure if it suits your needs, but Redmine has gantt charts and, more importantly, is open source. I found over the past week that it didn’t have certain graphing that I wanted, so I build a plugin and that was that. :)

#25 Jebac on 03.19.09 at 10:52pm

Basecamp clearly sucks in this matter. It is a showstopper for our organization.

@Mike: What doy currently use for PM?

#26 MikeSchinkel on 03.25.09 at 3:21pm

@Jebac - Not currently using anything (I’m no longer in my prior role that needed it.) I have been using Unfuddle in my current role, but only because of its SVN support.

#27 Nirav Mehta on 03.28.09 at 9:14am

Basecamp, and a lot of other web based systems are more project collaboration systems rather than project management systems. And when you think of it, one’s expectations of what a project management system should do are based on what one has seen earlier / elsewhere.

I believe a project’s success is more determined by the communication levels in the team, than any tools.

At the same time, I agree we need reporting and planning tools!

And that is the need we feel! We build planning and reporting tools for activeCollab and Basecamp. PlannerX - our flagship product for Basecamp allows planning projects 5 times faster with a new outliner view, and YES, it even has a Gantt chart view of your project plan!

Invite you to give it a try!

Our ideology is to keep things simple, but give customers what they need!

#28 Beth on 04.07.09 at 1:54am

I’ve been intrigued by the ongoing conversations here and elsewhere related to Basecamp and the 37Signals philosophy. I find I am torn. On the one hand, Basecamp is insanely simple to use for my teams in and outside of my IT group. I don’t have to do any training and adoption happens more organically then with other apps. So, for collaboration and communication, I give them a thumbs up.

For actual project management, however, they remain weak. While I appreciate the idea that there are too many bloated apps out there, there are certain core elements to project management that should be in any project *management* app as baseline: such as tasks that can be tracked by duration or dates (which are NOT milestones), task dependencies and some sort of visual representation or reporting element. And dare I suggest some sort of export to a basic file format like .txt or .csv for use with other apps?

What would be nice for me is if 37Signals took their simplicity in design approach to create an actual project management app that includes features that are commonly shared in the project management community. I’m sure there are many that would willingly support such an endeavor. Still keep it simple, keep out the clutter that shows up in the more feature bloated PM apps, but provide a solution to the project managers who truly appreciate the benefits of 37Signals’ philosophy. I’m sure the best of both worlds if possible.

That being said, knowing 37Signals philosopy, I won’t hold my breath. Instead, I find I am looking for integrated apps that will provide these features so I can retain the collaboration piece. But let’s be clear, a project collaboration tool is not the same as a project management tool.

#29 Cal on 06.08.09 at 12:08pm

I could not agree more with Mike. Whether it is the lack of Gantt charts or export of data to excel or reporting - BaseCamp needs to grow up, and not just the product.

We have a lot of time in training and setting up BaseCamp and now find that missing basic tools like getting my data out of the database in a useful format - is not possible, even with the available add-ons.

I can not send my clients a project overview, completed task report, or any data related reporting. Add-on’s to BaseCamp do not help either.

I hired a programmer that thought the same way as Jason. Some kind of 20’s immature self-important line of thinking that is prevalent in the US. Now in India you have a group that can not afford to act cool and trendy, and actually do a job: http://www.deskaway.com. Not bad product, cheap, not exactly what I need though.

So Mike, what are you using now?

#30 MikeSchinkel on 06.08.09 at 1:49pm

@Cal Thanks for the comments. Of course I definitely agree with you! :-)

Your timing is also impeccable. I recently decided to launch a website called PM-Sherpa to showcase all the different options to Basecamp (as well as giving Basecamp equal time itself, just to be fair.) You can see the full list of Basecamp Alternatives in addition to DeskAway here at:

http://pm-sherpa.com/features/basecamp-alternatives/

As for what I use, well the irony is I haven’t been running a project where I was in the position to specify such a tool since my fateful days with Basecamp. BTW, I recently used Basecamp while working on a client’s project, it was still a pain to use, and it really hasn’t changed much in all this time.

#31 Cal on 06.08.09 at 2:15pm

Thanks for the website!

#32 John Barker on 07.07.09 at 1:52pm

Basecamp provides an API, write your own. :)

#33 MikeSchinkel on 07.07.09 at 2:02pm

So basically, according to @John_Barker, if I go to McDonalds and want a hamburger I should have to cook it myself? Doesn’t make sense to me for things that most people need. APIs are great for integrations, shouldn’t be the excuse for lack of critical features.

BTW, at the time I wrote this (and probably still) their API couldn’t do what was needed anyway because I considered doing it.

#34 Chris Strom on 10.30.09 at 10:32am

Hey Mike, I’ve been using Basecamp recently and I definitely agree with your sentiments. I’m not looking for something that just lists out milestones, I’m looking for something that visually shows my workload/how many projects I’m juggling on any given day — basically Gantt chart functionality. I’m currently trying out the beta version of a project management tool called Stacks and it’s looking promising: http://usestacks.com. Maybe it would work for you?

#35 Chris Strom on 10.30.09 at 10:33am

URL’s not working with the sentence period. Let’s try again…

http://usestacks.com

#36 MikeSchinkel on 10.31.09 at 12:53pm

@ChrisStrom: Thanks for the comments. I’ll check out Stacks, but more importantly I’ll add to my list of related tools on a site that I have since built because of my frustrations with Basecamp called PM-Sherpa that lists many a Basecamp alternative.

#37 George Morris on 11.03.09 at 5:07pm

Hello Mike
Email me directly and I’ll get you signed up as a user in our private beta. Stacks and Basecamp are very different tools. I think Basecamp has it’s place for client communication but Stacks is more oriented around internal team collaboration. Thanks for putting us on the alternative list and I look forward to signing you up as a beta tester.

Thanks
George

#38 Chris Strom on 11.20.09 at 12:54am

Cool — I’ll have to check out that website.

#39 Extensioner on 12.10.09 at 1:08pm

Problem is, the basecamp alternatives I tried via pmsherpa were lousy - clunky, ugly, slow, and several demos crashed as I was using them - the quality is just not there. If you’re staking your company’s reputation (or your own professional reputation) on your PM tool, BC is the best bet. Plus, it’s a great value and allows unlimited users.

And relax, Mike Schinkel! :)

#40 MikeSchinkel on 12.10.09 at 1:54pm

@Extensioner - Care to name those specific Basecamp alternatives you tried? Given that I have advertisers on that site I don’t want to call out specific ones but I’m thinking you might just be a troll, maybe even a 37 Signals employee? I get numerous emails from people who thank me for the site and tell me how much better some of these other tools are.

So please name names of the sites that you don’t like and for which you think Basecamp is better.

#41 Extensioner on 12.10.09 at 7:51pm

Nope, just one man’s opinion. I’m not going to trash any struggling companies either, but I use BC and really like it. Remember, most of these PM tools are designed for companies without full-time project managers. If you need a gantt chart, create one.

To clarify: is your only problem with Basecamp the lack of Gantt charting? Doesn’t seem a big enough deal to spend this much time and energy trashing them.

#42 MikeSchinkel on 12.10.09 at 10:46pm

@Extensioner: Sigh.

It’s not the lack of GANTT tool that had me complain, it was their attitude that they knew better what I needed than I. I documented the MANY issues on a site which I have since redirect to PM-Sherpa.com (I decided to stop running a bitch site and wanted to be positive instead.)

You either have not run into need that they don’t support or you like being treated as if you were ignorant by your vendors (you are a web design shop, right? That’s what Basecamp is good for but not much else.)

When I wrote this post I was trying to manage 20+ projects all with the same tasks but different subjects and there was no API for us to “build it ourselves.” 37 Signals was dismissive of our need (and well as the need of *many* others) and that is what incensed me.

#43 Von A. Franklin on 02.13.10 at 5:22pm

we are considering using the drupal basecamp clone bringing it internal and building some of our own functionality onto it because of missing functionality that we suspect will never be added… just a thought.

#44 ReaderX on 02.18.10 at 8:26pm

Mike,

I share your sentiment. Afterall these years, 37 Signals still communicates like a spoilt brat whose position is: take it or leave it. Not exactly the kind of people I want to have a relationship with. Or depend upon for managing my business.

Gantt charts were so obvious, it’s still laughable when we look back at the arrogance of Basecamp developers’ refusal to acknowledge what everyone and their mother has been shouting for all this time.

It seems 37 Signals was eventually strong-armed into providing some kind of API. Now, the ad hoc strategy seems to be cultivating an ecosystem of 3rd party Basecamp add-on developers which relieves 37 Signals of any direct involvement, even if the customer pays through the nose for it. An interesting approach which is best understood once you’re no longer giving money to 37 Signals (and thus free of personal frustration).

If I were you, and I’m not, I’d disable comments for this post and let it rest in perpetual memory without further necromancy discussion. It’s great as a historical piece, though. Let the scabs heal over.

#45 Jim on 03.04.10 at 3:06am

I just really began using Basecamp for a health IT program I am managing after signing up about a month ago.

I assumed it had the capability of critical path, or at least a to-do list that had the ability to list items whose completion were dependent upon the completion of another item. I’ve never been more incorrect.

There needs to be a Mint.com of project management. Basecamp is not that product. If I wanted a To-Do list, I’d just use Google Apps since their groupware is more powerful than this BS being pushed by 37Signals.

#46 Erica on 03.27.10 at 8:52am

Basecamp is a dinosaur. Why?

It was easy to get popular when they were innovative (simple web based project management) - credits to their idea. But now there are so many alternatives (ProWorkFlow AtTask, 5pm, to name a few) and Basecamp simply fails to grow. Example: it took them 5 years to add deadlines to to-do’s. They just finally had to accept the fact that people badly needed it. Kind of like cut-and-paste after three years on iPhone. How stupid is that?

The simplicity by cutting down features is nothing to brag about. Try to build a product with the same simple list of features Basecamp has - nobody is going to buy it. They just fly on their brand right now.

The real achievement is to make complex things look simple. Like a sports car - there is a lot going under the hood. Basecamp is a bicycle on another side.

As about Gantt chat. It makes absolutely no sense to say that it adds complexity. Why? Because it’s an ALTERNATIVE view of your data. You know, like do you want to see the list of your files or you want to see the thumbnails. You don’t have to use it if you don’t need to and it does not get in a way if added.

One smart man said “never say never”. Jason should be a little bit more open to new ideas. Because times and technology do change, and products, as people, do evolve.

#47 Chris on 04.06.10 at 2:02pm

A lot of good comments here. If you guys could also check out PlanDone, http://www.plandone.com

I would love to get your feedback on this application. There is a free trial to the demo site.

#48 Me on 04.12.10 at 10:42am

I guess this is a long thread and my opinion will be on the bottom.

I guess Jason will not answear the question for a very “simple” reason. Sometimes when you give people a reason why you don’t do something, you end up “naming” the thing in question. “Naming” things is very important.
Not giving a reason just leaves you people wandering around and talking and talking and talking…

So, why you will never get that feature?! The reason is simple, the reasonning behind it not.

The reason is: GANNT charts give you the impression you are “on top of things”. It gives birth to someone everyone HATES… the Project Manager. He is the only person not directly linked with the project that gets to push people and dates around just because he has “a top down view”. Everyone is working, yet he gets to see the Gannt chart.

Getting things done is a matter of trust, you give people a date and time and they have to deliver. That’s it! The more you put in you start to do more damage than good.

This type of chart actually removes the trust needed between people working on the project, by giving one person a top down view, that person being usually the “commander” Project Manager.

Trust is the main fuel that drives collaboration, not the Project Manager.
Basecamp is not a Project Management Solution, it’s a Project Management System. It makes people work with each other, and does not replace trust or social interaction with Gannt charts and a Project Manager.

People get things done with Basecamp. They used to do that before Basecamp, now they are doing it again, only faster and easier.

I hope someone understands this…

#49 MikeSchinkel on 04.12.10 at 11:29am

@Me: I hear your point. Unfortunately, not all scenarios are equal. In my case (when I wrote this post) my need for GANTT charts was not to give me the impression of “being on top of things” it was to help me understand the timeline. I’m a very visual learner and without it I felt lost.

Further, my project was production of a “guide” where I had numerous volunteers participating in various steps. In our case there really wasn’t the “trust” issue you mention since the volunteers weren’t being paid and this wasn’t their full time job, they frequently didn’t follow thru so it was up to me and one other to make sure we were “on top of things.”

You may have an issue with overbearing project managers in your life but your issue doesn’t apply to all needs for a GANTT chart.

#50 Erica on 04.22.10 at 1:52pm

Long story short - I’ve used BaseCamp successfully at previous positions where there was no preconceived notions about what PM should be.

I’ve recently joined a new team and was asked if I knew of any alternatives to MS Project since it was too costly to implement in the same situation I mentioned above. Long and short - my new supervisor - a MS expert was VERY excited when I showed her BaseCamp …

Until she went looking for Gantts. I agree - really they’re redundant - the time to complete a project is within the space between milestones .. But my senior level manager who’s personal work flow depends on it - doesn’t - it’s not what she’s accustomed to - nor will it ever be.

And we’ll be taking our business elsewhere. Sad really - the problem could be solved by including a start date on the milestones and displaying them in a Gantt like manner .. Really bad business call on Jason’s part. In fact it’s changed my opinion of 37 Signals as a whole and they will be the last place I look for solutions in the future. They’re obviously not the innovative, forward-thinking company I thought they were.

#51 Adam on 04.28.10 at 9:48am

Analyst: Can I get FastTrack on my machine?
Me: What do you need it for?
Analyst: Tracking this project.
Me: Well, I’d like to move us away from FastTrack. It’s too expensive to give to everyone, and it lives on the desktop and not in the cloud. Check this out instead: it’s called Basecamp. It’s web-based. It’s affordable. It’s easy to use. I think you’ll like it.
Analyst: I like it, but I couldn’t find a way to see the project as a whole. We often print those out to show to clients. Can Basecamp give me that bird’s-eye view?
Me: You mean, like a Gantt chart?
Analyst: Yeah, that’s it.
Me: Um… no.
Analyst: Oh.
Me: Hello, AEC Software? Here’s my vein. Tap it.

#52 AJ on 06.01.10 at 1:29pm

The consumers shall decide your fate, BaseCamp…

…wahhahahaaaa!

#53 David Ferrell on 06.03.10 at 1:39am

We’ve moved off of base camp… because of lack of support for GANTT chants. I used to recommend basecamp, and felt privileged to be an early adopter. But other basecamp-like services have given their customers what they want, and GANTT charting is a requirement of strategic planning. I no longer recommend BC.

#54 MikeSchinkel on 06.03.10 at 2:47am

@David: thanks for the comment. As you know from reading there’s no need for me to repeat my agreement with you.

I wonder if 37 Signals will ever admit they don’t know everything and backtrack on this? IOW I wonder if they actually ever will provide GANTT charts?

-Mike

#55 Eric G on 06.05.10 at 1:27pm

this is classic @MikeSchinkel 3/25/09 “Not currently using anything (I’m no longer in my prior role that needed it.) ”

I bet 37 is glad they didn’t roll out GANTT just for you. I mean come on guys, 37 didn’t leave you ‘high and dry’, unless you can’t read, they don’t mention anything on their site about GANTT functionality. If you went ahead and got a paid plan and loaded it up with data waiting for the GANTT fairy to come, that’s kind of your own fault.

They’re a business as much anyone else and they can choose to put what features they want and don’t want in them. I bet there at least 100 other companies you can harass because their products REALLY suck, why not bother them for awhile.

And, if you’re at all familiar with the 37s guys story, you could always go out and build your own app?

#56 MikeSchinkel on 06.05.10 at 3:19pm

@Eric G: On 3/25/09 I wrote that I wasn’t using a PM solution, almost 4 years after writing this post. I guess you think we should all continue doing the same work forever? It’s correct I wasn’t using PM software at the time but I’ve run a highly rated meetup group (always >4.5 stars of 5.0) for web entrepreneurs & marketers with almost 2000 members for 3+ years and, well, I have a little influence with what local people buy and use.

One of the key reasons that I was not using PM software is that the project I was working on was not well mated to Basecamp which I would have learned has Basecamp not been marketed as the be-all-end-all. I also heard from so many fanboys that it was great and I needed to make a decision quickly and went with it. We were not using if to manage web development for a handful of clients like you do. We were managing a series of product selection publications with numerous authors and the entire project failed and we lost all our investment in large part due to our inability to manage the project because we couldn’t get what we needed from Basecamp.

Yes, that was our fault. We picked the wrong solution and it would have ended with that. But that was not the point of the complain here. GANTT charts were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of issues I had with Basecamp/37 Signals. They took the position, not only with me but with many people on their forums that they knew better what their customers needed than their customers did. Yes, a good company needs to learn to filter requests and create a cohesive solution that meets all customer’s needs, but that’s not what 37 Signals does; they just ignore things they don’t wont to hear even when there are valid use-cases.

37 Signals arrogantly derides customers and makes it clear that what is important is not the customer but what they themselves as “industry sages” believe to be important. Rather than solve real customer problems they give simple ideological solutions that benefit 37 Signals far more than it benefits a large segment of customers who have chosen to use their solution. There is evidently a class of people who like to be led by people who they feel are above them (the “We’re not worthy” syndrome) and clearly it appeals to them much like the long lines at the trendiest nightclubs where patrons are treated as if they don’t deserve to be admitted. That’s 37 Signals’ schtick.

Clearly it works for them, they have a loyal segment of fans (which it appears you are one?) but I find that approach to running a business as one of the most distasteful I’ve ever across. Ever.

Yes there are 100 other companies whose products suck more but I can honestly say I’ve never come across a mainstream company who publicly talks down to its customers in the way that 37 Signals does. I want to warn others and based on most of the comments here I either did my job or am not alone. And that’s why as you say, I am “harassing” them (with my 3.5 year old post.)

Had 37 Signals positioned Basecamp as task management for web developers who need to interact with their clients I would never have use it and wouldn’t have written this post. Had they treated my requests/suggestions *respectfully*, we wouldn’t be discussing this here. But they didn’t and here we are.

BTW, because they pissed me off so badly I launched this website and it’s the top Google result for “Basecamp Alternatives”: http://pm-sherpa.com I now get enough traffic to that site mostly from that search keyword that 6+ advertisers want to pay $100+/month to be listed there. And before you think this was all a disingenuous ploy to make ad money, the site was originally “whybasecampsux.org” and it had no aspirations other than to tell the world why Basecamp & 37 Signals were an awful company to be a customer for (believe me, I don’t make a habit of this, but mine and others experience as their customer was so horrid that I had to let others know.)

I only started featuring alternative products on whybasecampsux.org because I was hounded at least weekly by some vendor of a Basecamp alternative to do so. So I did. And then, about a year later, at least once a month a vendor would ask me to highlight their solution at the top of the page, which I never did. After many months of that I decided I’d let the market decide and started offering ads. Then, ironically given your comments, I decided to be positive instead of negative and changed the name to PM-Sherpa.com and run a real site. No more “harassing” 37 Signals (as you call it.) And you know what, I get at least an email a month thanking me for it.

P.S. Classic @MikeSchinkel? Whatever. Write my own? Why? There are now over 100 good alternatives to Basecamp (just check out PM-Sherpa.com. ;-). And I like to think it is in some small part because I had the nerve to speak out about my horrid experiences with 37 Signals. At least I hope I was able to have some influence on those who built there alternatives.

#57 sean on 06.06.10 at 10:03am

I’ve been using Basecamp successfully for years, and precisely for the reasons they state right up front in the product intro: they strip out all the useless charts that give the illusion of control, and focus on communication and keeping the agreed-upon tasking and dates front and center. Gantt charts are often enormously counterproductive for small organizations - ponderous to create, with lots of toxic artificial precision.

Obviously one size doesn’t fit all, and I doubt NASA would find Basecamp a suitable solution for their purposes. If your org really needs Gantt charts you don’t want Basecamp. But trashing Basecamp for failure to provide Gantt charts, if you got even two sentences into the product description before signing up, is like buying a sports car, expressing surprise it doesn’t ride like a bloated luxury ride, and then expressing shock! shock! that the manufacturer is unresponsive to customer input.

Sorry, Basecamp with Gantt charts would be like a big cushy sports car. An oxymoron.

#58 MikeSchinkel on 06.06.10 at 11:38am

@sean: Thanks for the comment.

The big reason I “trashed” Basecamp, as I’ve repeated in the comments ad-nausem, was primarily their attitude towards customers, which is arrogant and condescending, and secondarily because they market the product as the be-all-end-all instead of positioning it for its sweet spot, smaller web agencies managing web development projects for clients.

If lack of GANTT charts were it’s primary flaw, you wouldn’t be reading this on my blog nor would you be posting a comment here. I judge companies much more for their attitude and much less for what they deliver. 37 Signals fails miserably in the former department.

BTW, has my position on this evolved? Yes it has; time provides perspective to those who pay attention along the way.

(P.S. GANTT charts don’t have to be time consuming to create; they can be generated from existing milestone data. FYI.)

#59 Juniper on 07.03.10 at 2:07pm

I recently came on as a PM at a web development company. The company that many here state basecamp was built for. They used basecamp but were in dire need of changes. I was the first PM they’ve had, so clearly basecamp wasn’t doing what they needed or they wouldn’t have hired me.

I, like you, am a visual person. I don’t rely on Gantt charts to run the company, but I use them for a quick overview and to straighten out my head when I have 10 clients calling me about 20 projects and 100 deadlines.

My team loves me and I love them. I’ve always had great teams and never have I been the evil PM that points at things and tells people to do them as I sit back and drool at my Gantt chart.

The lack of Gantt chart was one reason I set out looking for new tools (and wandered upon this post. Normally, I ignore any google result this old, but I was intrigued). The other reason, the main reason, was the attitude of basecamp. I work in a firm that tries to keep on top of technology. We never make the website we want. We make the site (or tool, or SaaS, or whatever) that our client wants. So, I was SHOCKED by basecamps obvious disregard for their clients. I noticed it long before I came here. Their forum posts, their responses to email, other postings in other locations. They think they are as powerful and unstoppable as Apple is right now.

But, my company, for one, is canceling their account. I am disgusted by their attitude and unwillingness to work with clients. I won’t work with a company that isn’t an extension of our core beliefs, one of which is that we work for the customer. If they want white text on a white background, we will work to educate them but ultimately they will get their white on white. And, when they decide it is ugly and come back angry, we’ll discuss the matter with them, fix it, and 10 out of 10 times, they are happy and send their associates our way.

THAT is how you run a business.

#60 MikeSchinkel on 07.03.10 at 3:01pm

@Juniper: GREAT comment. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks!

#61 Call Me J on 07.09.10 at 4:50pm

Interesting post. I work for a fairly large/growing interactive company. One of my biggest complaints about basecamp first and foremost is their customer service. I have read their responses to other customers and I myself have received some pretty terrible responses. Either they all but tell you that you’re stupid or they just tell you that it could never do that in the first place (when for the past couple years it did). That very LARGE problem aside…now they’ve just become unreliable.

All in all it’s just been one pain after another working with Basecamp. The many problems we’ve encountered are just too long to list. I’m at the point now, after several years of being a customer, that I’m going to terminate the account. I just have to find an alternative first, so this article and some of the responses are helpful because I hardly have the time to research another tool. I just wish that the service we currently use was reliable. It’s interesting to know that I’m not the only one that has had issues with their customer service, perhaps they should consider trying to make the customer happy.

#62 MikeSchinkel on 07.10.10 at 1:32pm

@Call Me J: Sadly, based on your comment and others, I guess I’m not the only one who is put off by the attitude of the people at 37 Signals. Thanks for commenting.

#63 Kevin on 07.20.10 at 5:15pm

Mike,
What easy-to-use online PM software would you personally recommend as an alternative to BC? And one that has Gantt charting please.
Thanks

#64 MikeSchinkel on 07.21.10 at 1:22am

@Kevin: I really wish I had a good suggestion. There as so many and I’ve not really *needed* a GANTT chart since the failed series of projects that prompted this blog post almost 5 years ago.

That said, and I hate to do this since it will sound like I’m promoting my advertisers but let me suggest you look at these, especially the advertisers:

http://pm-sherpa.com/solutions/by-alpha/

Note: That is my site and I make money from those ads, but it is currently the only way I know of to give you some segmentation of the market (i.e the advertisers are the ones spending money in the market so they probably have revenue from customers to be able to spend advertising dollars.)

I do plan to spend some time on that site in the next 6 months in hopes to add a lot more information to help people better select solutions that meet their needs. Currently, however, I have client who need me to finish their projects… :-)

Good luck!

-Mike
P.S. (I’m using Unfuddle with my current clients as Unfuddle has tasks and Subversion which is what I need at the moment.)

#65 Patrick - Rule.fm on 07.29.10 at 5:44pm

Mike -

Boy this is an old discussion, but better late than never. We completely agree with being able to combine leaning styles in a formative, functional project management software. We use Baecamp for all client projects until it just couldn’t meet our needs anymore. We’d love to see what you think of our productivity tool RULE.fm being released August 3, 2010. We will launch with everything 37signals basecamp has and more in a much more enjoyable user experience. We will also continue to build on the platform and provide our users with interactive gantt charts, accounting, deal flow, mail and more at no extra cost within 3 months of launch. Let us know what you think: http://rule.fm

Cheers,

Patrick

#66 MikeSchinkel on 07.29.10 at 6:00pm

@Patrick: Thanks for the comment. No bandwidth right now to look at it right now, but maybe in the not too distant future. Good luck!

#67 Troy Hipolito on 08.05.10 at 3:17pm

Hi Guys

Did not read through all the messages but Basecamp does have an API. So why not create an application for mac and pc that just displays the charts for to-do lists and milestones? 5 PM (http://www.5pmweb.com) has really nice charts but lots of things on it is not what i need.

Actually I used many different PM softwares in the past and I love Basecamp. The main issue I see is i do need an overall view of the entire project in a time line format. Because I could have hundreds of To-do items. Just hard to keep track of everything.

there only seems to have an end date but no start date on anything. So I always thought that was strange.

#68 MikeSchinkel on 08.05.10 at 3:31pm

@Troy: Thanks for commenting. Note this post was written almost 5 years ago and they most definitely didn’t have an API back then. But the crux of the matter was not the API or lack of, it was their attitude. I made it a principle simply not to do business with companies that treat their customer as dismissively as 37 Signals does.

#69 Alan on 08.13.10 at 2:31pm

We are evaluating BaseCamp but lack of Gantt charts may be a show stopper because we need in many cases to deliver data in this form to clients. Sounds like the 37Signals CEO is hearing his customers, but not listening to hist customers.

#70 Jason O'Brien on 08.14.10 at 2:58pm

Wow, can’t believe these comments have been going on for so long.

For fun, I thought I would throw my comments in. Mike, I think you have a very short-sighted view in your dislike for how 37 Signals runs their business.

There’s no doubt that 37 Signals does LISTEN to their customers. They’re very good at that. They’ve made many changes and added new features over the years as a DIRECT RESPONSE to customer feedback. But they have a grand vision for THEIR product (that’s right, it’s their product, not anyone else’s) and certain things don’t fit into that vision.

You had a tantrum over charts, but other people throw tantrums over other things they believe should be integrated into Basecamp. 37 Signals rightfully doesn’t want to change the direction of their products every time someone screams about a feature they want. If they did that, their products would quickly become bloated, complex, confusing, and lose the simplicity that allows them to be so flexible (there are many varying ways to use a product like Basecamp, none of them right or wrong).

Call me a jerk if you wish, but I just don’t see the validity in anyone trashing 37 Signals or refusing to use their products (as someone recently commented) over the fact that they won’t implement a feature that you just HAVE TO HAVE.

#71 MikeSchinkel on 08.14.10 at 6:48pm

@Jason O’Brien: Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. That said, let me reply by saying that based on your comments you completely missed the point of the post and all my follow up comments. And I mean that with complete respect; it’s very easy to miss a key point in a blog post because there is just go much else to read on the web, i.e.:

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html

My real gripe about 37 Signals and about Jason is NOT that they don’t have GANTT charts; that was just the symptom not the disease. My gripe was/is they talk down to their customers and are completely disrespectful. Instead of having a polite discussion about my needs and an appropriate response of “Thanks for your input. We’ll consider it as we continue to monitor all user requests” they tell me and others that we actually don’t know what we need and that they know better. Discussing my needs as a customer with 37 Signals is about like trying to have a nuanced debate over the pros and cons of immigration policy with a right-wing talk show host!

By comparison I’ve been very critical of Meetup.com’s lack of certain features I need on their forums but they’ve already treated me with full respect and as such I’ve been a huge proponent of Meetup having run a group for 3+ years that grew to 1900 members and writing guides like this:

http://mikeschinkel.com/blog/25-best-practices-for-meetup-organizers/

The different between Meetup.com and 37 Signals? Their respective attitudes toward their customers.

Yes since first posting this I’ve learned it’s part of 37 Signal’s shtick to be “too cool” to follow the golden rule, it’s their thing to make money telling others not to listen to customers. And there are those who follow 37 Signals like lemmings; sad to be them. So if I find the way 37 Signals treats its customers as so distasteful I choose to blog about it in hopes to warn others who would find it distasteful too not to get intertwined with them as a SaaS provider then that’s my right to do so.

In a nutshell, if a company’s approach to business is to condescend its customers then they and their other customers should expect harsh criticism like this blog post and its follow up comments. Frankly I think 37 Signals actually revels in the criticism; it fits the approach of culting their brand that they have chosen (consciously or unconsciously.)

P.S. And no, I didn’t call you a jerk. :) Thanks again for the comment and the opportunity to continue to clarify my position on this post.

#72 Jason O'Brien on 08.14.10 at 7:06pm

I see nothing in his responses to you that would qualify Jason Fried as being “disrespectful” or “talking down to you.” Quite the contrary… I see the CEO of a very successful company taking time out of his day to DIRECTLY CONVERSE with you over many emails and even take the time to comment on your blog. He could have just ignored you altogether.

What this boils down to, whether you see it or not, is you raised hell over something you wanted, were told directly by the CEO of the company that they wouldn’t do it, and then started a Whine Rampage because said CEO wouldn’t acquiesce. You got your feelings hurt over the direct tone of delivery. If Jason Fried had just said “thanks, we’ll look into it” you would have felt warm and fuzzy, but they still wouldn’t have acted upon it. They did you a favor by not lying to your face.

If you look at it objectively—a real close look—you might realize that you were the one being disrespectful of the many years a certain company has put into making their products, disrespectful of their right to determine what they wish to do with their software.

All that being said, I’m glad you started the list of Basecamp alternatives. That’s what the web is all about… information and freedom of choice, so more power to you. I just wish you hadn’t decided to take that course in such a childish way.

#73 MikeSchinkel on 08.14.10 at 7:41pm

@Jason O’Brien: You might see nothing in Jason’s response here but his responses here because you falsely assume this was my only interaction with him. This are by no means the entirety of my interaction with him. I had ongoing interaction with him on his customer forum for at least 3 months, and his interactions with many others customers where he was condescending on an ongoing basis. Even better here’s a showcase of their condescension on their very own blog:

http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/useless_absurd_must_need_appalled_just_infuriating_essential_etc.php

And as for me being disrespectful, sorry but I feel there’s a higher bar placed on a company CEO for being respectful than there is for a customer. Especially when they spew the false prophecy in books like “Getting Real” and “REWORK” that infects far too many startup mindsets and cause them to think they can pull off the same crap as 37 Signals pulls and get away with it. Take Jason Cohen from “Smart Bear Software” who I respect FAR more:

http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/8354/Why-Your-Startup-Shouldn-t-Copy-37signals-or-Fog-Creek.aspx

(Jason and his ilk are brilliant marketers, I’ll give them that especially related to forming a cult following.)

Think it’s only me? Here are some links I found a few years back about others who had issue with them (don’t know which links are still good or not and frankly don’t want to spend any more time on this so I’m not checking them):

  1. From SLEEPYHEAD: Useless, absurd, must, need, appalled, just, infuriating, essential, etc.
  2. From Social Memory Complex: Web Dev Taboos, Part 1 of 1: Don’t Insult Your Users
  3. From The Marketing Technology Blog: I Canceled My Basecamp Account Today
  4. From Web Worker Daily: Alternatives to Basecamp for Project Management
  5. From The Social Customer Manifesto: Signal vs. Noise vs. Customers
  6. From mattwalters.net: Good Customer Service … Where did it go?
  7. From Zoli’s Blog: 37Signals Lost the Signal (for a Moment)
  8. From My · (Head) · Space: Big Egos at 37signals.com
  9. From Mike-O-Matic: Simplicity, Apple, and 37Signals
  10. From Needmore Notes: A Little Respect, Please
  11. From All this ChittahChattah: appalled, indeed

In summary it doesn’t simply boil down to what you say because you are only seeing a tiny bit of the story. OTOH I’m beginning to think you only want to see that tiny bit.

P.S. Admit it, you are a fan of 37 Signals and you own copies of both their books mentioned above, right?

#74 Jason O'Brien on 08.14.10 at 7:57pm

“P.S. Admit it, you are a fan of 37 Signals and you own copies of both their books mentioned above, right?”

Yes. Which obviously makes me wrong and you right.

#75 MikeSchinkel on 08.14.10 at 9:50pm

@Jason O’Brien: No, it doesn’t necessarily indicate you are “wrong,” but it does indicate a strong bias in their favor and are quite possible exhibiting “confirmation bias”[1,2] and a “choice-supportive bias”[3]

That’s not to say you are “wrong” just that there’s a high probability your previous positive opinion and support of 37 Signals clouds your judgement on this issue; IOW you are not “unbiased.” And we all have biases; I certainly do. One of mine is I violently dislike “cult” leaders and react negatively when I see them cultivating a cult. Some of my dislike for 37 Signals is because of that.

I also don’t see this as a “Right vs Wrong” thing but instead a “Being able to appreciate and respect the other’s perspective even if we disagree with it.” I guess the proof is in the pudding; can we simply agree to disagree or do you still feel the need to challenge my opinion?

If the latter then I will just chalk it up to your need to “prove me wrong” in order to reduce your own cognitive dissonance[4] related to your prior high opinion and support of 37 Signals. Remember, it was you who came here to comment 3 times today, I didn’t come to your blog to criticize you.

If the former, I can respect you back.

You decide.

[1] http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/23/confirmation-bias/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choice-supportive_bias
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

#76 Alan on 08.17.10 at 10:01am

We are now looking at Quickbase from Intuit. Does anyone have any other suggestions for a good web-based solution? I’d be happy w/ BaseCamp if it just had a calendar and a Gantt-like visualization of the schedule that we can give to clients.

Basecamp is clean so that’s a plus, but I’d really like 37Signals to ask new and prospective customers if they want a Gantt chart. I don’t need to edit it..I just want a few view-only visualization options. Quickbase seems to do this well.

#77 Alan on 08.19.10 at 12:40pm

I think we are going to go with Gantter on GoogleApps.

#78 Kyle on 09.08.10 at 4:49pm

Mike - I share your frustration. I’ve been trying to get another product, Fogbugz to fit my needs. They seem to share 37signals ideology with regards to Gantt charts.

I’m a developer, primarily - but on the occasion that I’m asked to guide a project through to completion, Gantt charts are a huge advantage to me for visualizing and understanding the state of the project.

My opinion, currently, is that this ideology stems from a bottom-up perspective on software. That is - thinking that the actual activity of writing-code drives everything. I view it as a kind of back-lash to the opposite kind of thinking that has been prevalent in the past: that business needs and timelines drive everything. Both are wrong and small-minded. There is a balance between the two that needs to be struck in every environment.

I imagine that things will level out in a couple of years, that the folks that push these ideologies will start to realize that managing a project is more than simply watching the implementation tasks unfold. That the zeal will be tempered…

Until then, there’s always the option of using a couple of different tools to do the tasks that are needed…

#79 MikeSchinkel on 09.08.10 at 5:22pm

@Kyle - Great comment and thanks for sharing your insights. Agree all.

BTW, didn’t realize Foxbugz was that way. I’m working indirectly with one of their founders as I’ve become a moderator on WordPress Answers which is part of StackExchange, one of the company’s Joel Spolsky is involved in. Hmm.

#80 Ed Parry on 09.09.10 at 11:15am

Hi all

Very interesting reading. Yes that old ideology thang

Our frustration at the slavish obedience to ideologies like GTD that you see in so many project management tools led us to create our own.

We’d love you to check it out dooster.net

(Sorry no Gantt charts. That’s about the only thing we agree on with Jason ;-))

ed

#81 MikeSchinkel on 09.09.10 at 6:04pm

Hi @Ed Parry:

Thanks for commenting and the link to your site. Good luck with it. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, No GANTT charts? Sounds a bit like ideology there too… :-)

(Somehow though my guess is you treat your customers with at least a reasonable bit of respect, no?)

-Mike

#82 julien on 09.11.10 at 11:26am

hesitating a lot …
I’d need a VERY integrated/centralized tool.
for examples, I don’t know if backpack’s tasks are connected to anything in basecamphq.

it seems 37signals.com SSO is only a feature to have a little menu at the top.

my kind of project are :
- programming project
- application to festival (I’m a musician & technologist)
- new course (I teach, and I need to share, manage files/contact for each course, at least at the preparation step)

I mean: very different project

I need templating, centralizing etc.

I like gantt from deskaway, but I guess it isn’t enough for me.

any ideas?

#83 MikeSchinkel on 09.11.10 at 8:05pm

@julien: Thanks for the comments. One day I may well do an exhaustive review of all available solutions so I can answer that question. In the mean time, client projects call…

Good luck with your search.

-Mike

#84 37 Signals strict attitude about features | Smash Company on 09.14.10 at 7:13pm

[…] Interesting debate in the comments here about 37 Signals unwillingness to add certain features to Ba… Source […]

#85 Ed Parry on 09.15.10 at 6:57am

Thank you Mike

We didn’t go for gantt charts only because people - in our admittedly limited survey group - didn’t say they wanted them.
Also we read various criticisms of them… but to each his own.

What we are doing - which might be of interest for a kinda related visual point of view - is mindmaps that give a visual overview of all the tasks in a project. Coming soon !

Julien I would like to think Dooster is suitable for all your projects. Admittedly - re programming projects - it’s not a numbered ticketing system. But it works well for us managing testing and development etc.

It’s certainly good for more “real world” stuff like festivals and teaching etc

best wishes

Ed

(hey Is this the oldest, still active thread on the net?)

#86 Tony Mobily on 09.17.10 at 9:37am

Hi,

We developed Apollo ( http://www.apollohq.com) , and even in our case, we didn’t develop Gantt charts. Why we never say “no” by principle, I must say that it’s unlikely that we’ll develop them. But, you never know… One thing we don’t do around here, is say “no” by principle! (We are quite happy to be proven wrong…)

Bye,

Merc.

#87 Ed Parry on 09.17.10 at 11:15am

Julien: If you need a ticketing / building tool for your programming projects then we used lighthouse. I didnt think it was amazing But many developers seem to use it and say there aren’t many aletrnatives. At least it is simple.

mopre compelx ones try fogbugz

i was amazed - being a non programmer - how bad some of the ticket tracking type tools were

#88 Julio on 09.24.10 at 4:58pm

im not using it just for gantt-less

#89 Matt on 10.19.10 at 9:01am

I’ll preface this by saying that I use basecamp every day and I love it for many reasons but it also drives me bonkers for a lot of reasons and gantt charts is one of them. The thing that basecamp does extremely well is simplicity which is key in creative environments. They really do get an A+ in that respect.

That being said there are so many things that are basic project management concepts that basecamp simply doesn’t understand and it makes anything other than simple task management impossible. No duration for tasks, no multiple assignees, the list goes on. The whole goal of a Gantt chart is to easily display a projects timeline and it can also allow for easy time shifts. If i want to shift a project in basecamp I have to manually click through every to-do and adjust it which is maddening to say the least. To say that gantt chart are unnecessary to project management is pretty ludicrous.

The key for me is that there are just too many things missing from basecamp to be called a Project Management Tool and it should be called a task manager instead. That works really well for some companies and you really can’t fault 37signals for sticking to their guns, you just need to understand what basecamp is and what basecamp isn’t.

#90 MikeSchinkel on 10.19.10 at 2:44pm

Hi @Matt - Thanks for the comment.

Just curious, wondering about the comment “simplicity is key in creative environments.” Why specifically “creative environments?”

-Mike

#91 Taylor Houston on 10.19.10 at 8:44pm

Thoughts on Workzone??

#92 MikeSchinkel on 10.19.10 at 9:52pm

Hi @Talyor,

Thanks for the comment. Not familiar with Workzone and don’t have the bandwidth to research it at the moment. What do you think of it?

-Mike

#93 Taylor Houston on 10.22.10 at 4:48pm

Hi Mike,

Well, it is everything Basecamp is + gannt charts and other features. Pricing is higher, but not terribly unreasonable. For up to 5 users, ~200/month + a training fee. I could definitely use the gannt functionality, especially to see multiple projects on one gannt. But could I get by with the <50/month for basecamp? This is the question I am wrestling with.

Thanks for the forum. - Taylor

#94 Arturo Hernandez on 01.06.11 at 12:36pm

Hi @Mike,

I am sympathetic to you request for Gantt charts. I’m not surprised at the discussion. Ideology plays a big part of software development. I do feel that although they did not provide an API immediately, they were most likely working on it as a response to your request and others. So if someone would develop them it would be Basecamp + X. And they would remain consistent with their original market offering.

I may not be as terminal as the Basecamp guys, but I am tired of product managers who submit themselves entirely to the user’s community will. We all know of great products which became bloated by adding user requested features. That does not preclude listening to the user community. But it will include saying no. Basecamp positioned itself as a lean product, and was successful at it. By their original intent they would have to say no to requested features more often. If that was the original vision and it was successful, why would they walk away from it?

How a person or company says no, is a completely different issue.

#95 MikeSchinkel on 01.06.11 at 6:06pm

Hi Arturo - Great comment. I actually agree with you 110%, especially your very last comment, which was the crux of my complaint regarding Basecamp and 37 Signals.

#96 Sekou McHenry on 02.12.11 at 5:18am

After a few weeks of research our company is scheduled to begin utilizing DeskAway for our project management and collaboration functions. I want to thank you Mike for this excellent post.

#97 MikeSchinkel on 02.12.11 at 12:37pm

@Sekou McHenry - Thanks for sharing your selection!

#98 SCF on 02.21.11 at 5:35pm

Great blog run-down. Was about to purchase basecamp, then decided to take a look at their gantt charts just to make sure they look sexy. They are a necessity imo.

Anyhow…found this blog, and I see the situation now - can’t believe the answers from their CEO. That sort of arrogance lost him this account.

Thanks again for the great work, read the whole thing.

#99 MikeSchinkel on 02.21.11 at 5:52pm

@SCF: Thanks for commenting!

#100 Aaron Solomon on 04.29.11 at 3:37pm

Fried does seem arrogant, and it (probably) lost him my business as well (I’m still investigating).

Mr. Fried, if you’re reading this–and I say this for your own benefit–the next time you want to engage a prospective customer whose brain is wired towards visual learning, rather than call him “ideological” (which doesn’t even make sense), provide a link to a rationale for your design decisions. At best, your interlocutor may be persuaded of the wisdom of your approach, and at the very least, you won’t come off as pedantic and unpleasant.

Not trying to call names–I’m just interested to know the basis for your exclusion of Gantt charts, which, for all I know, is a completely superior way of doing things. Instead, all I’ve learned is that Basecamp is run by people who are evidently indifferent to their customers and public image, and for whom offering a simple explanation is too low to stoop. (I’m sure you’ve explained it elsewhere, but given the poor judgment you’ve exhibited in this thread, I don’t feel particularly compelled to look.)

It’s too bad–my wife used Basecamp at her last workplace, and speaks very highly of it. But I won’t give my money, except as an absolute last resort, to a company who responds to legitimate customer feedback with passive-aggressive condescension–it’s just not the vibe I’m looking for.

Take it for what it’s worth–which, to you, is probably nothing, but there you go.

Great blog, Mike. Cheers.
Aaron Solomon

#101 Marcel Baer on 06.29.11 at 10:58pm

I have been screening project management software for several months.
Some of our cooperation partners use Basecamp but for them not having a Gantt Chart I refused to implement it with us.
I assume it is just a question of time until an Open Source system will come up where people can add what they need.

#102 Nathalie Cane on 07.07.11 at 2:54pm

We looked at Basecamp and Deskaway amongst others when we were looking at project management software and all were very nice. We had been told by a client using Dooster that they were good to deal with and because of that we went with them and they have been really helpful and we love the product. It’s dooster.net.

#103 MikeSchinkel on 07.07.11 at 4:39pm

Hi @Nathalie Cane: Thanks for the comment!

#104 Anonymouse on 07.13.11 at 2:54am

Everyone here is missing the point. He is not doing GANTT chart because he and his developers are just not capable of developing it. He is only hiding their incapability behind his so called ideology.

#105 frumkinwy on 07.13.11 at 3:29pm

Well, now you can do milestones that have multi-days, which is kinda like a gantt chart, but you can’t assocaite them by deliverables. it’s pretty straightforward functionality, and a necessity for any REAL project management.

also the to-do’s don’t allow you to assign a priority or a status. which is stupid. that’s life.

basecamp hasn’t been extended in 6 years. step it up.

#106 Webplanner: Making The Gantt Chart Social on 07.22.11 at 2:30pm

[…] of the main reasons 37Signals, the makers of popular project management tool Basecamp, are anti-Gantt-Chart is because at their core, they believe that “projects don’t fail from of a lack of […]

#107 Suresh on 08.02.11 at 4:57am

I have been reading this thread for a while and to be honest, I must agree with Jason. GANTT charts are over-rated, obsolete and onerous. At my work there is a guy who has posted a plotter print out of his entire MS Project plan on a wall. It is one huge GANTT chart which nobody gets the hang of. The tasks he wants to do are on the left in a narrow column, in fine print and it appears to me that more time is spent on formatting the bloody GANTT chart than on essential things like collaboration, file sharing and actual task monitoring. Needless to say, this chap has used that curse on Project Management, MS Project, client version. Perhaps as some of your readers have pointed out, the server based version enables file sharing and so on. Nonetheless, IMHO if people spend less time drawing GANNTs and more concentrating on tasks, and the collaboration around tasks, a lot more projects will be on track. GANTTs are an impediment, an unwanted and avoidable transaction cost on projects. Worse still is the idea that task dependences (e.g. Task B can only start after task A is done) need to be displayed on GANTTs. I have seen in-ordinate amounts of time in constructing, colouring and formatting arrows that indicate this. Reality: In my 15 + years in project management, I have seldom had to face dependencies. Admittedly, my projects have not been the “sending men to the moon” type… Everyone of of my projects has been planned initially using nothing more than post its; every project has actually been nothing more elaborate than a simple to do list. In basecamp I get an electronic platform that enables me to do precisely that. So, I do hope that basecamp, will continue to remain what it is: a simple idiot proof to do list, a file sharing space and a system to collaborate. It is the bloddy frustration of having used the MS Projects, Primaveras, Artemises of this world that drives me back to the basics of project management. I get that in Basecamp. So, dear Mr. Fried, leave basecamp as it is…

V. Suresh
Strasbourg, France

#108 MikeSchinkel on 08.04.11 at 5:18pm

Hi @Suresh,

Thanks for the comment, and I gotta say I agree with you for the most part (accept for your agreeing with Jason!;-)

People can overuse tools and people can create nightmares with GANTT charts. Much better to make modest use of GANTT charts than what your collegue has done and I agree about the negative value of complex dependencies and I agree that MS Project, Primavera, etc. are just as bad. But because they are bad doesn’t mean that Basecamp couldn’t be a lot better.

But just as focusing on getting things done and not on the GANTT charts is an example of “Moderation in All Things” so too is having simple GANTT charts to enable people to visualize. Taking the ideological stance against GANTT charts is just as bad as spending all day focusing on creating them.

But this post wasn’t about GANTT charts, it was about ideology and about how why it is important to listen to one’s customers and especially why it’s important not to be condescending to them. And those are what I took issues with Mr. Fried about.

P.S. I’ve recently been forced by a client to use Basecamp after having used Unfuddle which is also an online service. While Unfuddle is not perfect and I am still looking for a better solution Unfuddle has features that are lacking in Basecamp, features that we use to great value and thus it continues to be very painful to have to use Basecamp when I know there are much better alternatives.

As an aside and ironically, for the projects we are doing with Unfuddle, we don’t need GANTT charts either. But what I was using Basecamp for in 2005 when I wrote the post, GANTT charts were critical.

#109 George on 08.31.11 at 12:19am

Funny all of the Basecamp alternatives here go to a dead link. We use basecamp and from time to time put together a ghantt chart, but one of the reason we like basecamp is becuase it is simple - especially for clients. We offer them no training and they get by.

#110 Shane Kinsch on 10.27.11 at 10:50am

While we’re discussing alternatives.. I looked at BaseCamp in detail, but of course a Gantt chart was necessary as we include it in our proposals to show the client what to expect on what dates, etc. in a graphical form.

After struggling for a bit on a “cloud” type based web solution, we’re locally hosting Web2Project. It’s working out great and has all the functionality that we need to get the work done. All information is presented and looks great.

Web2Project doesn’t “look” web2.0-ish, and that’s what makes it valuable as well. I need the guts of the information and where we are tracking projects vs. big bubbles and rounded corners.

Shane

#111 J Corpany on 10.30.11 at 4:23am

Has anyone used PlannerX (http://plannerx.appsmagnet.com/) as a way to allow clients who want a Ghantt Chart view to have it and allow a vendor to have the advantage of the simplicity of Basecamp? Does PlannerX function via API?

#112 Jamie on 01.20.12 at 2:58pm

We use Dooster for collaboration and project management and it has a mind mapping feature which should be of interest to visual learners. This feature aside it’s already very effective software.

#113 Ricardo Barcellos Mano on 02.22.12 at 6:25pm

How can I believe in a project management tool that has no dependencies between tasks and does not believe in a visual approach? Almost all tasks of the world have a The relationship of dependency. A visual approach is the best way to quickly identify errors and “forgetting” and also to have an expanded vision of the future tasks. I almost bought this almost “optimal” tool, but unfortunately I can not do this because it is impossible to think about a project manager without a method of dependency and a visual approach. regardless of any ideology. Excuse me.

#114 Daniel on 03.21.12 at 7:39pm

My company uses Basecamp and we’re leaving because we need a more flexible tool. I signed up for Basecamp because of the name and was really surprised and disappointed with the poor flexibility and feature set. I’m sure Basecamp is great for simple projects, but it is sorely deficient in what I would consider even a medium level project management toolset; things as straight forward as task durations (or ghantt charts). Jason Fried, call it ideology if you want, but it’s myopic and a disservice to your shareholders and the customers (like me) that depend on you to provide them with good service. Be a visionary; see the need and fill it. If you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.

#115 Ryan Off on 04.27.12 at 7:20pm

I completely agree with Mike.

I understand that 37signals has a point of view on PM that doesn’t believe GANNT charts are needed. But the fact is, that many of their customers want them. If I see a company that continuously does not listen to it’s customers, I think there is a problem with them. While 37signals may be confident enough to create a brand new style of product, it’s ideals border on arrogance and may put off it’s customers. I have been a Basecamp user for over 5 years and am a big fan. I really like the software, but one big problem still stands out for me. Nearly all my clients love to see a nicely planned GANTT chart. If 37signals doesn’t like the word GANTT and find some problem with the GANTT itself, great, just name it something else like a project timeline or visual project schedule or anything else. But Basecamp should be listening to it’s customers and building a visual representation of the project timings. In my opinion, Basecamp is not a success because of their view on project management. It is a success because of their view and ability to create beautifully simple and functional website. It’s the software they are good at, not PM theory.

FYI, I stumbled across Projectite today (http://www.projectite.com/), GANTT charts for Basecamp.

#116 MikeSchinkel on 04.27.12 at 7:55pm

@Ryan Off - Thanks for comments. Agree with all you’ve said. As for me, the could easily leave off GANTT charts and it wouldn’t have bothered me. What bothered me was they acted as if they knew better than me. And not just with me, but they condescended with 10s if not 100s of others who posted in their forum on the same and similar issues. That’s what made it an issue with me.

#117 Jonathan Dill on 05.24.12 at 3:38pm

Dependencies, conflicts, order of operation and being able to visually see how the whole project lays out are the thing. I keep getting these questions like, “Well, Why can’t we move on to this other task?” and then I have to explain, again, that something else needs to happen first and why it has to happen in that sequence. The only way that I can see to put order of operation into Basecamp is with words, and then people have to read those words, otherwise there’s no way to tell which items can be moved around and which items can’t. Leaving and following breadcrumbs like that is a pain, it’s like putting sticky notes on documents, putting the documents into folders into filing cabinets, it takes effort to understand the relationships between tasks that way.

#118 MikeSchinkel on 05.24.12 at 3:45pm

Hi @Jonathan Dill:

Thanks for the comment. Great points all.

-Mike

#119 signtheta on 06.18.12 at 9:44pm

i totaly agree with mike’s point. today yesterday i was looking in to basecamp and i actually thought that i was not looking for gantt chart in the right place in basecamp.

i will get something else other than bc!!

#120 Anthony B on 07.05.12 at 7:58pm

Hot Project (http://hotproject.com) has Gantt charts and we’ve just launched a free version for up to 5 users - I’d love to hear your thoughts on our system.

Thanks
Anthony

#121 Basil on 07.27.12 at 2:07am

Checkout ProofHub, its is a great alternative for project management. It is very simple and user friendly.

#122 Sean Kearns on 08.09.12 at 11:07pm

I just stumbled upon this thread. Thank you all. I wish I would have read it before I wasted my time trying to get basecamp to replicate gantt chart behaviors.

My company has been using http://www.teamgantt.com. We love it. I have nothing to do with TeamGantt the company. But I’m happy to pay them each month because their tool makes project planning and execution easy for us.

Sincerely,
Sean Kearns

#123 John D. on 08.29.12 at 1:36am

Basecamp is going the way of the VHS tape or the DVD.

People want a more visual project management solution and the poor customer service combined with the refusal to listen to potential customer’s issues with the program will be a downfall for them.

Who knows how much potential business they have lost. Retention is so important since there are so many competitors out there and they are terrible at it.

#124 Adriana on 10.15.12 at 12:35am

So as a HUGE fan of basecamp - there are so many programs that sync with basecamp. We use roadmap for the Gantt usability - and it’s great - and it’s real time sync with basecamp - is awesome for us.

So my wish list:

What I’d love to know is if there a way to export the data from ONE project - on demand; as opposed to having to export all the data for all projects at once.

And even more so - if you can export the data from one component at a time of a given project eg: To Do Lists / Calendar (I know you do ICAL but it would be great if we could export it as well).

Also if there is a way to set alerts with upcoming action items that have been assigned to us. . .(or if there is a tool that integrates with basecamp that can do this). EG if there is a report due on the 15th of November - that it sends reminders 30 days out / 14 days out / 7 days out / 3 days out / 24 hours out. Once you’ve done the task / to do etc. . it wont send you further notifications.

I would also love to see a SEARCH functionality in a PROJECT only - as opposed to ALL projects on basecamp. For me who does over 300 events a year. . when i’m searching for a file a client has added it can make it really tough to find files. (Also it still includes Archived Files) - it would be great ot have the option to include Archived or not in the search

Look forward to hearing from you - and thanks for such a great system. My companies live and breath off the userbility of basecamp.

Thanks :)
Adriana

#125 8 free web based project management systems reviewed - Dg3World on 02.23.13 at 3:40pm

[…] Gantt charts to give project overview – even on the free accounts. This was a request that Basecamp refused to implement even when their userbase requested it. Ironically its probably one of the reasons some of you have landed here looking for an […]

#126 Dagensnyheter on 06.14.13 at 12:48am

To add the 125th opinion:
I have tried Basecamp and decided it didn’t quite fit my requirements. I think 37signals have been entirely fair and open, I didn’t feel tricked into trying something that didn’t work for me. If you’re a PM, it’s your job to find the right tool for the project - and that might mean testing a dozen different applications.
If Gantt charts are the reason you don’t like Basecamp, I pity you. You must work in an awful environment. I use Gantt charts, sometimes, but I do not rely on them. In fact, I usually end up building my own Gantt-chart-like diagrams because the automatically-generated one is much too detailed and busy for the intended purpose. Usually, I use the chart to give an “outsider” an overview of the project and its status.
Senior managers like Gantt charts for the illusion of control they provide. However project managers see through that illusion.
Where do you spend more time in MS Project: the left side (with its tasks and dates) or the right side of the window (with its bars and arrows)? Most people I know minimize the Gantt window pane, first thing they do after opening Project.
That said I think Gantts are OK, I just think their usefulness is very limited.

#127 Dave on 07.10.13 at 12:52pm

Jason’s unwillingness to survey customers about including a Gantt feature reflects a level of arrogance I have not seen in quite a while. I made the mistake, once, along time ago, and thought I knew more what my customers wanted they they did. After reading these entries, I have decided to go with another company.

#128 mikeschinkel on 02.15.14 at 6:17pm

Hi @Dagensnyheter,

To add the 125th opinion:

126th actually. But who’s counting? :)

Anyway, thanks for the comment. Sorry for the late reply, didn’t see your post until now (haven’t had time to pay much attention to my blog for a while.)

I have tried Basecamp and decided it didn’t quite fit my requirements. I think 37signals have been entirely fair and open, I didn’t feel tricked into trying something that didn’t work for me.

Your comment was in 2013; my blog post in 2005. It’s entirely possible that they’ve become more humble over the 8 year between post and comment.

If you’re a PM, it’s your job to find the right tool for the project - and that might mean testing a dozen different applications.

Well, yes and no. In 2005 there were really not many (if any?) alternatives to Basecamp. And you assume that anyone using a project management system is a PM whose sole job is to focus on project management vs. (as was my case) a CEO of a startup that had many other details to concern myself with besides exhaustively evaluating PM systems (which didn’t really exist at the time.)

If Gantt charts are the reason you don’t like Basecamp, I pity you.

You really didn’t read the post, did you? Why I didn’t like Basecamp was the attitude of the people who run Basecamp.

You must work in an awful environment.

Not from my perspective; I was the CEO.

I use Gantt charts, sometimes, but I do not rely on them.

Maybe your projects are very different from the type of projects I was trying to run (in fact I’m 99% certain there are.)

In fact, I usually end up building my own Gantt-chart-like diagrams because the automatically-generated one is much too detailed and busy for the intended purpose.

That would have been fine, but there were no ways to export the Basecamp data at the time to do that. And no interest from 37 Signals in solving their customers stated problems.

Usually, I use the chart to give an “outsider” an overview of the project and its status. Senior managers like Gantt charts for the illusion of control they provide. However project managers see through that illusion.

I wasn’t a PM, I wasn’t a “Senior Manager”, I was a startup CEO.

Where do you spend more time in MS Project: the left side (with its tasks and dates) or the right side of the window (with its bars and arrows)? Most people I know minimize the Gantt window pane, first thing they do after opening Project.

I don’t use MS-Project so I would have no idea what the answer is.

That said I think Gantts are OK, I just think their usefulness is very limited.

Except for the types of projects I was trying to manage. Please don’t assume that your use-case is indicative of all potential use-cases. A sign of maturity is to admit that one doesn’t have experience with everything and thus doesn’t know what is needed in all cases.

#129 Mikey on 05.08.14 at 3:46pm

Here’s the holy grail of web project management:

AtTask.com

#130 Scott M. Stolz on 06.07.14 at 12:14pm

I have looked at a lot of project management systems, and none of them have everything I want. I am currently using four different systems to be productive, and unfortunately none of them sync. I track my time in one system, I manage my calendar in another system, I manage my projects in another system, and I manage my personal development and habits in a fourth. They all do part of what I need really really well, but none do it all. This is why I wish more systems synced.

#131 mikeschinkel on 06.07.14 at 12:34pm

Hi @Scott,

Thanks for the comment, and man do I feel your pain! :)

I’m curious, can you mention what you are using?

Also, have you look at IFTTT.com and Zapier.com to see if they offer any of the integrations that you need?

#132 Arlen Mark on 09.01.14 at 7:56am

I’d recommend you to check out proofhub as well. Highly recommended for managing team as well as projects + has awesome features like time tracking, gantt chart, group chat and more. http://www.proofhub.com

#133 mikeschinkel on 09.01.14 at 2:27pm

Hi @Arlen,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Are you a Proofhub user, I assume? Someone from Proofhub contacted me a while ago about posting a review on my blog but since that’s not what I use my blog for I declined.

That said, I have collected a team and we will finally be relaunching PM-Sherpa.com on October 1st. I’ve contacted them about being included in PM-Sherpa after the relaunch.

And, the next time I need a project management solution I will definitely check them out.

#134 Jessie Spino on 09.04.14 at 12:53am

Gantt charts are probably the most helpful tools to have for project management. At our company, we use two platforms for task & project management: 1) casual.pm and 2) HiTask.com (http://HITASK.COM)
Combining these 2 platforms, we have had the most success in the last 3 years of experimenting with various different tools.

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