I have written before about my growing frustrations with Basecamp. We had been looking at alternatives and finally made a shift about 15 days ago. The reasons for moving off Basecamp are threefold:
1) Terrible search and findability. Its hard to find anything that goes into Basecamp. One of the purposes of collaboration is knowledge generation and recording and Basecamp does a terrible job of that. They did a search redesign recently and I was hopeful. But it did not improve core search.
2) Crappy integration with email. It is not possible to reply to reply to a Basecamp thread from email. You have to go to the website to reply. This really hinders collaboration.
3) Writeboards are no replacement for wikis. I seriously gave writeboards a chance. But once again, there are no ways to organize them. Information that goes into them feels like its lost forever.
What did we shift to: a mix of Fogbugz and SlideShare private groups.
We are using Fogbugz for bugs, features, all project related (structured) communication. The nice thing about Fogbugz is that you can make a case out of anything, a bug, a feature idea, a customer support request. Once its a case in Fogbugz, it can be assigned and tracked. When I spot a bug, I add it to Fogbugz. When I think of a change in the design, I create a new case in Fogbugz. Fogbugz is not perfect, but its much better than managing the project using Basecamp and Trac (our previous bug tracking system). And I especially like how easy Fogbugz makes it to filter and find information. The whole concept of shared filters is great.
For other informal communication, we have started using SlideShare private groups. We launched private groups just about a week ago and want to “eat our own dogfood”. Its working quite well for internal communication and sharing of documents. Its especially nice because we are uncovering lots of bugs and quickly make minor changes that we need. One of the first needs we have uncovered is search inside a group! Expect that soon.
One of the things I like about using a SlideShare group is that we designed it to support lightweight communication – it encourages short, almost twitter like posts. Also, it interweaves conversation with objects (or slideshows). Most of the time with mailing groups, there is a conversation thread and you can attach a file to that. But the file and conversation are not interwoven. SlideShare allows me to weave the object in with the conversation. Since we use PowerPoint for conceptual design at an early stage this works very well.
So here is a list of systems we are using internally and with customers
Customer Email: Fogbugz (earlier Gmail)
Bugs: Fogbugz (earlier Trac)
Wikis: Fogbuz (earlier Basecamp writeboards)
Features and designs: Fogbugz (earlier Basecamp)
General file sharing and project communication: SlideShare private group (earlier Basecamp)