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Basecamp: Project Management and Collaboration Software

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Basecamp is an excellent online software package that makes project management and collaboration easy. Created by 37signals, the entire Basecamp system is accessed and managed online, so none of the software or data is actually stored on your computer. You can share the project management with your fellow freelancers or an entire company.

Basecamp helps you manage multiple projects at a time with to-do lists, file sharing, chatting, messages, calendars and time tracking. 37signals offers a trimmed-down free version, which is great for starting out, as well as monthly plans with all of the features discussed below.

To-Do Lists

You'll never want to write a to-do list on paper again. In Basecamp, you can create multiple to-do lists per project. Once a list is created (such as "Logo Revisions"), you add specific items and can assign people in your group (or yourself) to be responsible for each one. When complete, you just check off the item and it moves to the completed list.

File Sharing

With built in file sharing, it's easy to share documents with co-workers and even clients for a project. Upload designs, invoices, notes, photos...anything you want available online to share. It's great to avoid using FTP and emailing large files. You can easily upload files, categorize them, and download at any time from anywhere.

Messages

With the Basecamp message board, you can easily post messages and notify any or all members of a pre-determined group, who can then comment. Just type your message, choose from a list of people to get an email, categorize by topic, attach files (if necessary) and submit. With a great built in search function (throughout Basecamp), it's nice to have your conversations documented and easy to find.

Milestones & Time Tracking

Basecamp uses Milestones to keep track of important project deadlines, such as due dates for each round of designs. You can assign a milestone to a person, relate one to to-do lists and subscribe to them in iCal (on the Mac). Your Dashboard (the Basecamp home page with an overview of your projects) will show you upcoming and late milestones so it's a great way to keep track, and not miss, deadlines.

Time tracking in Basecamp allows all of the members of your group (or just you) to record hours spent on specific tasks and entire projects. You can create reports from the "time sheets" and even relate to to-do lists. Having this, along with all of the other Basecamp functions, in one place is what makes the software such a powerful tool.

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