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"On again, off again, on again - Finnegan"

Oldtrain-3

I must admit that I am in awe of the Basecamp product for online collaboration, it really is an elegant web-based solution for project management. I find I am using it a lot more now that my clients and I are becoming more familiar with its benefits, which happens in a short space of time I am pleased to say.

Acquiring this trust in the Basecamp environment had me thinking about the increasing acceptance of online services, particularly those that aim to improve productivity/management. Initially I was hostile to committing much of my day-to-day organising to an online system for fear of interruption to my web access, whether due to my own equipment or a general broadband outage.

But, I'm happy to say, the instances of equipment failure have been few, and were mostly fixed by resetting the router/Mac, likewise broadband outages are more the exception than the rule nowadays. Add to that the possibility of syncronising your data with an offline copy (iCal can subscribe to a Basecamp project and mirror the entries in the iCal calendar) and most of the fears associated with relying on such an online system are considerably eased.

Some of you will also have security issues with these types of services, this is understandable, but I believe they have addressed this issue as best they can. In any case how secure do you believe plain vanilla email is, without resorting to PGP encryption or similar.

So what about your investment in your offline project management system?

Not all projects or tasks require online teamwork and sharing, when they don't then a well-designed offline system will likely deliver all you need, but when collaboration is needed then systems such as Basecamp really shine. And, in case you haven't noticed, many of the premier management applications are already gravitating towards shared online feature sets, but I expect the baggage they are dragging from the desktop environment will make for a more difficult journey than those companies already specialising in this field.

37Signals have also announced their intention of tackling the CRM market, their new service will be called 'Sunrise'. I'm looking forward to it already.

37Signals have a great quote on their site:

Projects don't fail from a lack of charts, graphs, or reports, they fail from a lack of communication and collaboration.

- Well said.

In case you're wondering about the (more than usually) cryptic title for this post it's a quote I heard in an excellent BBC documentary about the heyday of the Railway system. The quote was a telegram from a Station Master (Finnegan) who had been reprimanded for routinely sending lengthy reports by telegram, it was his newly succinct description of fixing a derailed train.