“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Albert Einstein.
I like many things about the company Basecamp. They have written some remarkable books and maintain an interesting blog. Having their roots in design, their products provide a good user experience. Like us, they too have eschewed venture capital. Both companies don’t like the bubble-mania that so often sweeps our industry; our focus is on the the long haul.
However, when it comes to product management, we part ways with them. The simplicity of Basecamp comes at a cost that it does not have the depth needed to handle complex projects. Their constant refrain of “Less is more” or rather “Less is less” comes in the way of the recognition that complex projects do exist. We, on the other hand, come from a conviction that simplistic slogans cannot substitute for product management. Product management is about making difficult choices in facing complex problems.
We provide a hierarchical structure consisting of milestones, task lists, tasks and subtasks to break down complex projects into easily manageable units. Views like the Gantt Chart and the Resource Utilisation Chart are needed to ensure that a project with different people in different places working on different tasks, sticks to schedule. There is essential, irreducible complexity in the real world. An app that can meet this complexity needs to be feature rich and sophisticated. Failing to acknowledge this practical truth, sounds to us like, “We don’t like complex problems, so let’s pretend they don’t exist!”
To understand how this difference in ideology can impact businesses, take the case of Sunny Land Tours, a Florida based operator specializing in trips to Egypt and the middle east.
They had been using Basecamp for project management. “As our business grew, it became difficult to manage multiple operations and technology projects,” says Rakesh Nautiyal, VP Operations. “I have a team member in Costa Rica, a superior in New York, our head quarters is in Florida and we also work with several external contractors. Apart from better task management, we wanted improved collaboration and internal communications.”
They began looking at other options and evaluated several products. “We found Zoho Projects the best fit as we got everything we were looking for at a very affordable price. We are now utilizing every module under Zoho Projects to the fullest, be it Milestones, Tasks, and Subtasks to keep our team focused, Calendar for important events and meetings, Docs for storing and sharing commonly used documents, Timesheet to keep track of time spent by each individual and project cost, Forums for employees to discuss new features or upgrades, Pages for intranet and Chat for interoffice communication.”
Since the shift, they have completed quite a few successful projects. As an example, Rakesh mentions a major website upgrade for which their own staff worked with freelancers. With its launch this April, their site has become responsive across devices and SEO rankings have significantly gone up. We’re all the more happy to share this with you as Sunny Land celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. And as part of the celebrations, the site now features a few great offers; something not to be missed if you’re in the mood to travel!