How to Get the Most out of Basecamp Templates to Speed Project Startup

Basecamp Templates provide a way to create standard, repeatable project resources that align with your best practices.

Michael Caton, Contributor

October 29, 2019

3 Min Read
How to Get the Most out of Basecamp Templates to Speed Project Startup

The Basecamp project management and team collaboration application provides a robust set of tools for organizations to coordinate work. Through the use of project templates, teams can take their project management to the next level and speed the launch of new projects by developing and saving a repeatable methodology.

A project template in Basecamp saves the state of a project, including files, messages, schedules and to-dos. Therefore, as a best practice, organizations shouldn't take a completed project and all its associated files and objects and create a template. Instead, teams should look at the elements of the completed project that contributed to its success and add them to the template.

From a practical standpoint, a team should start by looking at the application elements--Campfire chat, Messages, To-dos, Schedule, Automatic Check-ins and Docs & Files--and determine which ones have provided benefits to users and how. For example, Automatic Check-ins provides a way for managers to schedule the collection of project status and feedback at regular intervals. These questions can help document a project’s status and identify issues before they become problems, but teams should think about using them as a meeting facilitation tool, as well. For example, scheduling the questions and sharing the answers on the day before a weekly project meeting can help move past the status reporting phase to discussing how to address issues blocking completion of certain tasks.

While Basecamp users can attach a file within any of the workspace components, Automatic Check-ins can be a useful place to track metrics used to manage the performance of a project. For example, if a marketing team uses a project to track a campaign, the Automatic Check-ins could be a logical place to organize charts or data about campaign performance based on regularly scheduled questions.

Basecamp uses a week-based mechanism for creating schedules within a template. If IT organization uses an Agile development methodology, a given development team can define a release plan according to all the events that must take place within the development process, including sprints.

Similarly, tasks in the To-dos component can be prepopulated using this weekly methodology. For example, one of the first tasks in a development project could be collecting and documenting the release plan by the relevant stakeholders, with a due date of Wednesday during Week 1. Keeping task names and descriptions as generic as possible can save time, even if some tasks will need updating after the launch of a project.

While users can share files in any object within a workspace, the project template also includes a dedicated Docs & Files section for organizing shared files in Basecamp or file sharing services such as Box, Dropbox and Google Drive. This section supports versioning and allows files to be shared within a folder structure.

For some teams, it may be tempting to associate a file with given task by attaching it to the task directly. For example, if a team has a task to document requirements in a word processing doc, it might be tempting to attach the file to the task. A better way to organize and track that document would be to store it in a Docs & Files component and share a link to the file in the specific task. This ensures that everyone will be working from the same version of the file. 



About the Author(s)

Michael Caton


Michael Caton has been involved with collaboration technology for over 15 years, either covering the technology as an analyst at Aberdeen Group and eWEEK or researching the market while working for vendors. As an analyst, he's also covered IT service management, middleware and data analytics. He has a strong interest in using data-driven analysis to make sound decisions.

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