Basecamp is a Web-based project management and collaboration tool
Starts at $20 per month. A free 60-day trial is available
Albe Zakes, global VP, communications at TerraCycle, has been using Basecamp for a little more than two years.
How do you use it?
Once you log on it takes you to the main dashboard where you can see the shared calendar, to-do lists, and all the most recent file uploads.
On the right side of the main dashboard page is a matrix of every client we have in every country. It's almost like a file folder system, and it provides easy access to our clients in all countries. For example, if I'm looking for Nestlé in Brazil I can access all information for that client right there.
You can set it up to get email updates on any specific client or country. I also get a daily digest that notifies me of everything that has happened that day. So if a press release or new pricing has been added to a client's section, it's really nice because I can just click on the update email and it takes me directly to that client's section.
If there's an issue, it's usually with uploading or accessing files, and we either call or email customer support. They've been really good and are very responsive to emails.
How does it serve your business needs?
We operate in 23 countries and have about 100 different clients across those countries, and many of our clients operate in multiple countries. For example, we do work for Kraft in Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, the US, the UK, and all the Nordic countries. So it's crucial for us to have a system like this.
Before Basecamp we were duplicating a lot of work. If someone on one of my teams needed to put together a media kit, press release, pricing update, or presentation for a client, they created those from scratch. As a global manager, I was spending a lot of time editing and re-editing the same documents for different countries.
Basecamp creates an opportunity to share files on a global level in a very organized way because it's broken down by country and brand. For everything we do – press releases, billing, and presentations – it makes it easy for me to access everyone's work and to allow someone in Israel or Turkey to access the work of someone in Mexico or Brazil.
Because there's a specific section for every brand in each country, if I've just worked with my team in Canada on a really terrific presentation for Kraft and my team in Mexico has a presentation coming up, I can send them to the Canada section for Kraft and tell them to base their presentation on what we did in Canada.
It works the same way for campaigns. For example, we ran a very successful program in the US collecting oral care waste for Colgate. About a year later we launched a similar program in Germany, and I sent my German PR manager to Basecamp to access the Colgate US file and use the materials there as the template for the German campaign. It really cuts down on reviews and editing I have to do since it's based on materials I already created and approved.
It's also been a lifesaver when traveling. For example, my laptop died on the way to a major meeting in the UK with Johnson & Johnson. Without my laptop or my notes I would be going into the meeting blind. Because everything was in Basecamp, I was able to use someone else's laptop and get all the information I needed including the presentation we were going to give, the office location, names of the people we were meeting with, and the agenda. Within 10 minutes, all the knowledge and assets I needed were at my fingertips again. It's pretty invaluable to be able to access all of that information from anywhere.
How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from an IT standpoint?
What are the main benefits?
It saves me a lot of time.
It's a very good management tool – you can assign people tasks and see other people's to-do lists.
The ability to keep track of all press releases we've issued.
At major brands like Kraft and Nestlé, brand managers and PR people change constantly. It's impossible to keep up with all the employee changes at all our client companies, but Basecamp helps.
What are the main drawbacks?
Some of the email integration has been tough. For example, if I put a meeting on the Basecamp calendar it doesn't integrate with my email calendar.
There isn't a lot of great reporting. If I want to create a media report for a brand like Colgate or an overall client report, there is no real functionality in Basecamp to do that so I have to do it manually.
What would you like to see improved / added?
It would be great to have Basecamp create a client report based on data that's in our account.
I would like to see integration between different users' calendars.
Project management and collaboration tools such as Asana, Podio, Smartsheet, and Trello.