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My Basecamp Failure
January 6, 2011 - 11:45pm

I am a Basecamp failure. I have failed at Basecamp. I have failed 37 Signals.

Today I cancelled my Basecamp account. I admitted defeat, and in this space I own up to my inadequacies.

Basecamp is terrific. Elegant, simple and affordable software. The fault must lie with me.

Here was my plan. In my new gig, I was going to get the team off e-mail as a project management tool once and for all. Basecamp was to be used not only to manage our technology and course development projects, but to create a transparent environment for To Do lists and project schedules. From May of 2010 until yesterday I assiduously updated my Basecamp project sites. I shared my project To Do lists. I put in milestones. I copied project messages into the system.

The problem was, none of my team (and we are a very very small team) was all that interested. They humored me. Said nice things. But in the end, they did not care about seeing my To Do lists. Documents were in Google Docs, or on shared directories, not in Basecamp. Project dates and milestones were born in Excel and wanted to stay in Excel. Dates are on Exchange calendars. And e-mail is still the tool that everyone uses to manage and keep track of collaborations.

My biggest realization during this failed Basecamp experiment is that nobody really wants to see my To Do list. I thought we'd all share our lists, add things to each others lists, and basically create a system where we could easily tell what we are all up to. The reality turned out to be that everyone is too busy to look at each others work lives, and it is much more efficient to walk down the hall and have a chat.

So for now, I'm back to putting my To Do items in iCal, and everything else in e-mail, Excel and folders.

Chalk up my Basecamp failure to a classic P.I.C.N.I.C. story: Problem in Caller (me) Not In Computer (software).

When have you failed good software?



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