Confluence and Basecamp for Project Management


Posted by
Anand UNADKAT

August 13, 2013

cf_bc

Comparing these two tools is interesting because even though some of the features overlap somewhat, there are huge differences between them.

Basecamp is used by millions of people to collaborate and manage projects online. It is trusted by small businesses, big businesses and non-profits worldwide. It is used as a document management tool where it is easy to share files, deliver on time using the calendar feature to track Sprints and also reuse templates.

I’ve used both Basecamp and Confluence for some projects. I can definitely see the value of Basecamp when it comes to interacting with multiple clients and projects. Sometimes it is very simple which is its strength as well as a major drawback because this doesn’t allow you to add features that you might like to use. It makes this tool very basic, mainly for document management.

Confluence on the other hand is a wiki. Confluence is very broad with its features and add-ons which practically allows users to achieve a great deal. It doesn’t only work as a document repository, like Basecamp, but it allows you to create pages and spaces, create reports etc. It’s variety of features and configurations is the strength of Confluence, however it can also be its drawback and it requires a lot of configuration to be done to it.

Comparing basic features

Confluence

Basecamp

Edit Office Documents Share files
Page versioning i.e. change requests Create Project Templates
Page Templates Track time on Calendar
Unlimited Spaces Drag and Drop files
Drag and Drop Editing
Rich Text Editor
Task Notification
JIRA Integration i.e track sprints
Massive Add-on library
Share Pages
Create Blueprints

Comparing few PMO functions

Sharing files

Both tools allow you to share files, but they both do it differently. With Basecamp, file share is limited to projects. Only people assigned to a particular project will be able to view the files. With Confluence however, this can be shared with anyone within Confluence user group or external users as well by simply adding email address for that person. With Confluence, you cannot only upload the files, but with  files in Microsoft Office format, you to edit them within Confluence.

Calendars

With Basecamp, there is a basic Calendar which can be linked to project dates that are defined within Basecamp. This will be shown in the Dashboard screen. With Confluence, it also has a basic calendar, but you can link it to JIRA as long as you have both JIRA and Confluence applications linked. This way, you are only adding dates in one tool and the other tool is picking it up.

With Confluence, there is also a plugin called Team Calendar. This is where you can manage team, track JIRA Projects, plan events. Very useful for PMO as this way you can track their resources and Assign them to Projects.

TeamCalScreen

User Management

Both tools allow User Management where they have their administrators who have access to the whole system. In Basecamp, it puts the users into project groups by simply assigning them to a project, whereas with Confluence, to do the same, you have to create project level groups and assign users to those groups.

Client Interaction

Basecamp is targeted towards external clients where there is communication between them by simply writing messages instead of sending emails back and forth which saves a lot of effort. Confluence is targeted towards internal clients where they can add business information, business procedures, company documents etc. Confluence does have external client features where there can be interaction between clients as long as they have access to the tool.

Document Management

Confluence allows you to create workflows. There is an add-on called Ad-hoc Workflow that is available in the Atlassian Marketplace. A very useful add-on especially if there is a document (page) that needs approval for example change request, or a holiday or resource request. Workflow can be personalized to organisation’s needs. Whereas with Basecamp, there is no such add-on that will allow you to do such follow up with Documents.

Templates

With Basecamp, there is a basic template feature which will allow you to create a template for a project. This is basically a layout of the Dashboard and few tabs, events, to-do lists etc. However with Confluence, it has a feature called blueprints. Blueprint is a set of page templates with added functionality to help you create, manage and organise content. For PMO purposes, there could be one created for Resource Request or even Change Request. This could be used when a project manager wants to request a resource, they can just use the template.

blueprint_create

In terms of comparing these two tools to pricing. Confluence does come with a significant price tag which can be a prohibitive factor for many, however if you’re a company that will make full use of the available features that Confluence provides, it is an excellent tool. Confluence can be installed into the server and modified to meet company standards, whereas Basecamp is hosted online. Pricing include:

Confluence Basecamp
1-10 Users $10 One-off Up to 10 projects $20/month
11-25 Users $1,200 One-off Up to 100 projects $100/month

With Basecamp, there are a lot of third party tools available, both Mobile and Desktop apps which will help you get basic reporting and UI features but it will not match the Atlassian Marketplace also known as Atlassian “app store”.

Overall, even though there a lot a few similarities and they both serve the purpose of Project Management, Confluence just takes it to another level with its features and available add-ons which allows you to achieve a lot for your project, from project plan to finish product i.e user guides.