Forget Basecamp. How to implement Shape Up in Monday.com

Shape Up[1] is a wonderfully insightful book by Basecamp Head of Strategy Ryan Singer aimed at helping product teams ship software that matters. It harmonized with our own in-house practice of avoiding formal project methodologies like “Agile” and “SCRUM” in favor of our own leaner ways of getting things done in short-iterations with minimal overhead.

The free Shape Up online book[2] lays out an alternative to software development cycles that are too long (or too short) and where epics, sprints, and story points are the focus. Instead, Shape Up advocates principles and processes that focus on shortening the cycle to get an idea into production to bring value to customers as soon as possible.

Shape Up is arguably an elaborate PR effort by Basecamp to acquire new customers for their subscription product.

While we wholly endorse the ideas, methods, discipline, and communication principles advocated in Shape Up — and we love its clarity of writing — we can’t get on board with their recommendation to use Basecamp (laid out in Shape Up appendix How to Implement Shape Up in Basecamp). Singer even goes so far as to write, “We built Basecamp to implement the Shape Up method.” Indeed, Shape Up is arguably an elaborate PR effort by Basecamp to acquire new customers for their subscription product. And it could very well be working. In fact, we signed up for Basecamp and conducted a ten-week evaluating of the Shape Up method: from shaping up, pitching and betting, to running a full six-week cycle with a two-week cool down in Basecamp. However, as ironic as it sounds, we found Basecamp competitor Monday.com[3] has much more to offer teams looking to implement Shape Up. Compared with Basecamp’s clunky flagship product, Monday.com[4]’s stellar UI, more flexible design, comprehensive feature-set, and better mobile experience, make it more enjoyable to use and a clear winner as a management tool for Shape Up.

It just goes to show: a superior product development process without stellar design talent will only take you so far.

Monday.com takes some of the best ideas from products like Basecamp, Asana, Trello, and Airtable, and fuses them into a product we truly love to use.

While there’s much to love about Basecamp’s work philosophy, it seems they’ve lost their focus when it comes to building products. Basecamp feels immature and neglected compared with modern productivity apps like Slack, Airtable, and Asana. Despite Basecamp’s penchant for describing their product as “simple”, the UI is downright awkward and lacking in many key areas, which I’ve gone into more detail about elsewhere[5]. It just to show: a superior product development process without stellar design talent will only take you so far.

We encourage organizations to determine for yourself whether Basecamp or Monday.com is a better match for your teams by conducting your own trial with each product. But since there’s no official guide for implementing Basecamp in Monday.com, we created this document to help you get started.

First, we’ll provide an overview of some of the key features which give Monday.com a decided edge over Basecamp. Next, we’ll lay out the practices that we’ve come up with to help you get started implementing Shape Up in Monday.com.

At the core of Monday.com is a highly-customizable Airtable-like task list called a Board. The default Board view is a table structure of rows (called “pulses”) where you can create custom columns to augment and sort your data, as well as Groups and Filters.

References

  1. ^ Shape Up (basecamp.com)
  2. ^ Shape Up online book (basecamp.com)
  3. ^ Monday.com (monday.com)
  4. ^ Monday.com (monday.com)
  5. ^ elsewhere (medium.com)
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