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Andrew Zuercher
Getting More Out of Basecamp
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Basecamp is an excellent tool for collaborating with a wide range of role players on a project. Whether a designer, a non-technical subject matter expert, or a coder, basecamp can provide a ton of value as a platform for inter-team communication.

Iterative Mode
You can use Basecamp to run your projects in an agile way, using to-do lists to represent your iterations and then running todos as individual stories. This is great since you can adjust the assignments and communicate with the client in a very non-intimidating and simple way. Certainly, there are other tools out there that map to an agile process quite a bit more closely, but the trade-off can be alienating the very clients you need to interact with.In this phase, I like to map todo lists in the following way:
  • todo list => iteration
  • todo => story in the iteration

Scoping Mode
Additionally, Basecamp is great at the beginning as you develop the roadmap, too. In an ideal scenario, before any project has begun, user stories are well-defined by the product owner. They identify the needs for a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). But knowing what may or may not fall into an MVP is not always easy. Time must be put in to define all the stories at a high level to facilitate a roadmap. Of course, this path is subject to change, and accommodating that is what makes agile processes such a good fit.To answer the questions of cost and schedule, you can use Basecamp to create these Product Backlog Items (PBIs). There are ways to decompose your functionality into themes that help break the functionality into modular areas.In this phase, I like to map todo lists in the following way:
  • todo list => theme
  • todo => story in the theme

Now, one of the problems with Basecamp is that it doesn't provide a place to define estimates for your todos. When developing a plan, understanding how long it will take (schedule) and how much it will cost (resource-based estimates) is important to know at a high level. I like to use Google Sheets to help break this out, but I have found it to be a very manual process.

Todo Exporter
So, over the past couple of days, we've created a lightweight tool that can be used to help with some of this tedious work and provide traceability back to Basecamp. It's free, open source, and super easy to use if you are familiar with nodejs. I called this tool basecamp-todo exporter, and it's available via the following:So this is what you do:
  1. define your themes as basecamp todo lists and your stories as todos (as we mentioned above in the "Scoping Mode")
  2. install the npm package on your local machine (see for details)
  3. run the "Todo Exporter" command line client and save it to a CSV
  4. import the CSV into your Google Sheets and then crank away on your estimates

Hopefully, this is useful to you; we may turn this into a product because it's been such an invaluable part of scoping. In the meantime, please feel free to enjoy this simple tool for your process. If you want to see how Barrel Proof Apps can help you create a roadmap for your project, please contact us at or email
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