Basecamp vs Slack: Which Is Better?

Your Ultimate Guide for 2022


Before we do, we want to tell you about a new PM software alternative to Trello and Asana. After using them both (and trying countless other PM tools), we realized that the PM software on the market today is missing a lot of important features … features that we needed to run our own business.

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Overview

Basecamp vs Slack Overview

If you want to know whether Basecamp or Slack is right for your team, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll share 10 main differences between Basecamp and Slack, review the pros and cons of each, tell you what their users think, and help you decide which one is right for your business.

In this section, we’ll take a quick look at the origins of Basecamp and Slack, as well as provide an overview of their key features.

Launched in 2004

The Origins of Basecamp

Basecamp was originally created as a PM tool for use at web design firm, 37signals. The tool helped the firm run its projects so well that eventually, clients began asking how they could get their hands on it … which inspired the 37signals team to put Basecamp on the market in 2004.

Over the years, 37signals -- which changed its name to Basecamp in 2014 -- continued to develop its original product, known as Basecamp Classic. Today, the latest version of the product is known as Basecamp 3, and this version is the subject of our review.

Basecamp Overview

Basecamp 3 is a web-based tool used by teams for work management and collaboration. Although Basecamp 3 is sometimes referred to as a project management tool -- and it can be used for that -- it lacks some common features of PM tools, like time-tracking, Gantt charts, and board views.

Within Basecamp, users can create hubs -- which are essentially repositories of information used for either teams or projects. For instance, you might have a hub for your marketing team or a hub for a product launch.

Each hub has six sections: Message Board, To-Do’s, Docs & Files, Campfire (real-time chat), Schedule, and Automatic Check-Ins.

Within these various sections, users can make group announcements (Message Board), assign tasks (To-Do’s), view deadlines (Schedule), or create user-defined questions that can be asked to the team at specified intervals (Automatic Check-Ins).

For instance, you might set up a question, “Are you blocked on anything?” that members are prompted to answer each morning at 9AM.

Additionally, Basecamp offers hill charts that let users visualize to-do lists as hills -- with the top of the hill representing a project’s midpoint. While hill charts can be useful, they’re subjective, since they’re based on how a user feels about the progress of their project, rather than objective data.

Launched in 2009

The Origins of Slack

Like Basecamp, Slack was initially created for internal use. In 2009, the company Tiny Speck was working on Glitch, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). At the time, the team developing Glitch was working out of three cities: New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

To improve communications, the team used Internet Relay Chat (IRC), however, IRC didn’t fully meet their needs. So, Tiny Speck began working on an internal communications tool.

When Glitch was finally released and failed to gain traction, Tiny Speck abandoned it and began focusing solely on its communications tool. That tool was ultimately given the name Slack and released to the public in 2013. In 2021, Slack was acquired by Salesforce.

Slack Overview

Slack is a workplace communications tool that allows users to share files and chat in real-time. The software is organized around channels, dedicated spaces that are devoted to specific topics. Chats and file sharing takes place in those channels, which keeps communications organized.

For more sensitive information, channels can be set to private, which limits access to specific users. By contrast, anyone in the workspace can view messages left on public channels.

In addition to using Slack channels for group conversations, users also have the ability to directly message team members, as well as make voice and video calls to other members of their workspace.

Now that you have a better understanding of the two different software programs, let’s take a look at the key differences between Basecamp and Slack …

Differences

Basecamp vs Slack: 10 Main Differences

1. Ease-of-Use

Both Basecamp and Slack are intuitive and easy to set up, however, Slack is more user-friendly than Basecamp.

Because Slack is a workplace communications tool, its out-of-the-box functionality is limited if you don’t plan to use integrations. As a result, new users only need to figure out how to chat and share files -- two functions that can be grasped quickly.

Basecamp is also very easy-to-use. While it does offer task management functionality, it’s not hamstrung with so many bells and whistles that the average user can’t pick it up fairly fast. Plus, Basecamp’s intuitive features (To Do lists, a message board, etc.) are familiar concepts to most people, making the adjustment period relatively simple.

However, as easy as Basecamp is to use, we’re giving Slack the win here because its interface is more intuitive. While Basecamp is simple to grasp, at times it can be hard to find the files and messages you’re looking for, because there are so many places they can be.

For instance, files in Basecamp can be uploaded to the Message Board, To-Do’s, real-time chat, and the most obvious place, Docs & Files … while this flexibility can be useful occasionally, it does make Basecamp’s interface more confusing.

Our Vote:
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

2. Pricing

Both Basecamp and Slack offer multiple membership tiers, and each software has a free plan. As of this writing, membership pricing is as follows:

  • PERSONAL - no cost for up to 20 users
  • BUSINESS - $99/month flat, unlimited users
  • FREE - no cost, unlimited users
  • PRO - $6.67/month per user, billed annually
  • BUSINESS+ - $12.50/month per user, billed annually
  • ENTERPRISE GRID - Contact sales

Because Basecamp charges a flat fee and Slack charges per user, it’s difficult to make a pricing comparison. So, if you’re trying to determine whether Basecamp or Slack is the better value, you’ll want to consider your team’s needs.

For instance, if your team just wants to collaborate in real-time, Slack is a no-brainer for its ease of use, extensive integrations, and generous free plan. However, if you also need access to task management features, Basecamp is the better bet.

Our Vote: Draw
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

3. Free Plan Limits & Restrictions

Although there are a number of things you can do with both Basecamp and Slack’s free plans, they do come with various restrictions.

Let’s take a look at Basecamp’s free plan first. With Basecamp Personal, users can create up to 3 projects, invite 20 team members, and use 1GB of file storage. Unfortunately, this won’t be nearly enough for most businesses. Unless your team is really small, you’ll want to create more than 3 projects, and you’ll probably run out of storage.

However, if you just want to try before you buy, Basecamp Personal gives you a good feel for what you can expect with Basecamp Business. Basecamp Personal is also a smart choice if you’re a student or freelancer looking for a productivity tool you can use to manage your assignments.

By contrast, Slack’s freemium plan has a more generous offering. Not only can you invite as many team members as you want, but you also get 5GB of file storage. Plus, you can integrate Slack with up to 10 other applications.

The biggest drawback of Slack’s free plan is that there’s a searchable limit of 10,000 messages -- meaning that only your team’s last 10,000 messages are viewable in the workspace and retrievable via search.

This limitation can be especially frustrating if your team sends a lot of messages. For instance, if 2,000 messages a week is your team’s norm, members can only view messages sent in the last 5 weeks. As a result, your newest team members won’t be able to access important announcements, decisions, and project info that was discussed before they joined the team.

Still, although that limit can be frustrating, we felt that Slack’s free plan was superior to Basecamp’s plan, due to its higher file storage and unlimited number of users.

Our Vote:
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

4. Reporting

Reporting Feature

Both Basecamp and Slack offer limited, basic reporting. For instance, with Basecamp, you can run reports to view overdue tasks, recent task activity, and tasks by assignee. Additionally, administrators have the option of exporting project data in HTML format.

By contrast, Slack lets users run reports about how people are using the app, such as the number of messages sent per person, the number of files uploaded, and other basic channel activity.

Users can export messages and file links in JSON format with a Free or Pro Slack account. Business+ and Enterprise users also have the ability to export data from private channels and direct messages.

For additional reporting options, both Basecamp and Slack integrate with dashboard and Gantt reporting software. However, to use this functionality, you’ll need to purchase reporting software in addition to Slack or Basecamp.

Our Vote: Draw
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

5. Mobile App

Slack and Basecamp Mobile Apps

Both Basecamp and Slack offer mobile apps for iOS and Android users.

While Basecamp users praise the app’s ease of use and functionality, some note that there’s no dark mode, it takes too many clicks to do simple things, and the app lacks important admin controls -- making it possible for anyone to delete a project or team.

By contrast, Slack users appreciate that the mobile app is easy to navigate, has great search functionality, and includes most of the same features as the desktop app. Still, users express dissatisfaction about the Slack mobile app’s limited customization options and login problems.

Additionally, many note that Slack notifications either quickly disappear or don’t show up at all -- forcing users to open every channel to find messages they may have missed.

To call this category, we relied on user reviews. Although the Basecamp and Slack apps have somewhat comparable ratings on the Google Play store (4.1 and 3.8, respectively), Basecamp is rated significantly higher on the Apple App Store -- 4.7, compared to Slack’s rating of 3.9 -- which is why we’ve chosen Basecamp for the win here.

Our Pick:
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

6. Customer Service

Both Basecamp and Slack offer multiple ways for users to get assistance -- unfortunately, however, neither of the two competitors provides phone support.

Basecamp users can contact customer support via a form on Basecamp’s site or they can send an email. They also have access to dozens of Basecamp how-to guides, a manual, and video tutorials on Basecamp’s YouTube page. Additionally, Basecamp occasionally offers live training classes on the basics of Basecamp.

Slack also allows users to send an email or contact customer support via a form on its website, and unlike Basecamp, Slack does offer live chat. Additionally, Slack has an active user forum and the Slack Help Center, which contains guides, how-to’s, and video tutorials.

Although both Basecamp and Slack have fairly similar customer service offerings, we went with Slack on this one because it offers live chat support.

Our Vote:
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

7. Integrations

Slack Integration Options

Slack really excels when it comes to integrations, and the software integrates with more than 2,400 platforms and apps. By contrast, Basecamp integrates with just 70 applications.

However, Basecamp does integrate with Zapier, giving you the opportunity to connect Basecamp to thousands of other apps if you’re willing to spring for a paid automation tool.

Still, based on Slack’s incredible number of integrations, we picked Slack for this category.

Our Pick:
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

8. Time Tracking

Basecamp Time Tracking

Unfortunately, neither Basecamp nor Slack makes time tracking as straightforward as you might like. Although both integrate with time-tracking software, it’s not a built-in feature. As a result, users usually incur additional monthly expenses if they want to track time.

For these reasons, there’s no clear winner of this category.

Our Vote: Draw
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

9. Budgeting

Basecamp can’t be used to track budgets, invoices, or billing, so if that’s important to your company, your best bet is to choose task management software that provides this functionality already. Likewise, Slack is a communications platform rather than a project management tool, so you won’t find budgeting tools in Slack either.

If budgeting is important to you, you can always use Basecamp or Slack alongside your existing financial software. You can also integrate various budgeting software with either application.

Our Pick: Draw
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

10. Communications

Both Basecamp and Slack allow teams to communicate. In Basecamp, real-time chat takes place within the Campfire section of each hub. Users can also directly message each other using Pings, Basecamp’s version of private chats. Within chats, users can add emojis, attach files, and format messages, although they can’t do much else.

By contrast, Slack is a communications platform, and workplace messaging is something it does extremely well. With Slack, you can create unlimited channels for group messaging or privately message team members directly.

Slack also lets users create threads, which are conversations that appear in the sidebar of a channel, so channels don’t become too cluttered. Additionally, Slack users can record video and audio messages, use built-in commands, and participate in Huddles (real-time audio conversations between team members). These are features that Basecamp just doesn’t offer.

Because Slack is the more sophisticated messaging platform of the two, we’re Team Slack on this one.

Our Pick:
  • Basecamp
  • Slack

Reviews

Basecamp and Slack Reviews

While reviews don’t paint the entire picture, they can offer some helpful insights. So, let’s take a look at how Basecamp and Slack stack up against each other on Capterra.

reviews-logo

Basecamp Reviews

At the time of this writing, Basecamp has 13,563 reviews and a rating of 4.3 out of 5. Generally speaking, Basecamp users appreciate the software’s ease of use, flat pricing, and robust functionality, which eliminates the need for additional apps for some users.

Additionally, many reviewers like that they can easily give clients access to projects, while hiding things they don’t want them to see, like chat messages.

However, not all the Basecamp reviews are positive, and a small minority of Basecamp users report disappointing experiences.

For instance, some reviewers note that because you can’t add sublists, priorities, or milestones to Basecamp’s To-Do lists, the software isn’t as useful for managing complex projects. Others note that Basecamp isn’t updated frequently enough.

Another sticking point among Basecamp users is that there are too many places to carry on conversations. You can directly message someone by sending a Ping or comment on general message boards, calendar items, tasks, and uploaded files. While this flexibility can be convenient at times, it’s frustrating at others, as it forces users to search for conversations.

reviews-logo

Slack Reviews

Slack’s reviews on Capterra are similarly favorable. Out of 21,308 reviews, the software has a rating of 4.7 out of 5. On the plus side, users commend Slack’s organization, unlimited public and private channels, extensive integrations, and user-friendly interface.

However, many users felt that Slack’s per-user pricing made the software too expensive. Also, reviewers complained that Slack’s 10,000 message limit (in the freemium plan) is too limiting.

Another frequent Slack complaint was that if you have a large team, you’re forced to scroll through a lot of noise -- especially if you’ve been off work for a few days. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for users to see just the important updates on Slack.

Pros and Cons

Basecamp vs Slack: Pros and Cons

If you’ve read this far, you can see that there is no clear answer as to which software is better. The right solution is going to depend on the size of your business and what you intend to use the software for.

However, to help you make your decision, we’ve summarized Basecamp and Slack’s strengths and weaknesses below, as well as identified which type of business would best benefit from each.

Pros
  • Intuitive & Easy-to-Use - Basecamp has an intuitive user interface, and it’s easy to learn. Even without previous experience using task management software, most people can pick up Basecamp fairly quickly with minimal instruction.

  • Competitive Pricing - Basecamp is priced competitively for large teams. Similar software programs typically charge $6 - $12 a month per user. By contrast, Basecamp’s flat fee of $99/month makes it a bargain for teams with 20+ people.

  • Eliminates the Need for Multiple Apps - Basecamp has lots of useful features, such as real-time chat, to-do lists, file storage, and a calendar. If companies were to pay for this functionality piecemeal, their expenses would really add up. With Basecamp, teams can access most (if not all) of the functionality they need within one app.

  • Ability to Create Client-Specific Projects - Basecamp makes it easy to create projects you can share with clients. Even better, you can control what clients can access within these projects, so confidential information remains secure.

Cons
  • Not Suited for Complex Projects - If your company frequently manages complex, large-scale projects, there’s better project management software out there than Basecamp. That’s because while Basecamp has some really cool features, it isn’t like traditional PM software.

    For instance, Basecamp users can’t create subtasks or recurring tasks. Nor can they add priority levels to tasks. Furthermore, Basecamp lacks Gantt charts, which project managers rely on to manage project dependencies, monitor projects, and allocate resources.

  • Lacks Time Tracking - Unlike many of its competitors, Basecamp doesn’t have built-in time tracking -- forcing companies that want this feature to purchase time-tracking software that integrates with Basecamp.

  • Communication Limitations - While Basecamp’s real-time chat will meet the needs of some teams, the app lacks the capabilities of a more sophisticated communications platform like Slack. Plus, it’s tedious trying to find where a specific conversation took place in Basecamp, since there are so many places users can have them.

  • Limited Reporting - Users can only generate a couple of very basic reports with Basecamp. If they want to create more complex, customized reports, they’ll need an integration like Bridge24 -- which offers professional reporting and exporting tools for Basecamp users at an additional fee ($240/year for 5 users, plus $48/year for each additional user).

Who Is Basecamp Best For?

Basecamp is best for businesses with:

  • Simple project management needs
  • A desire to consolidate (by replacing multiple workplace tools with Basecamp)
  • Projects that don’t make use of task dependencies
  • Teams of 20+ people that want an affordable task management & collaboration tool
Pros
  • Well-Designed Tool - Slack gets high marks for its design. Not only is the platform highly customizable, but it’s also easy to use. In minutes, anyone can learn the basics of Slack and start chatting with team members.

  • Extensive Integrations - With 2,000+ integrations, Slack can integrate with virtually any tool you might already be using in your business. Plus, unlike a lot of other business software, Slack allows teams on its free plan up to 10 integrations.

  • Good Customer Service - Slack’s customer support is pretty good. For instance, on Capterra, users gave Slack’s customer service a rating of 4.4 out of 5.0. Also, unlike many of its competitors, Slack offers customer support via live chat.

  • Generous Free Plan - With Slack’s free plan, teams can access all of Slack’s basic features, including messaging, unlimited public and private channels, 1:1 voice & video calls, file sharing, and notifications. While users can only access the most recent 10,000 messages, Slack’s free plan may be enough to suit the needs of small teams and startups on a tight budget.

Cons
  • Expensive - Slack’s paid plan is more expensive than similar communication tools. For instance, Slack charges $6.67/month per user for its Pro plan, whereas several Slack alternatives provide similar functionality for just $3 - $5/month per user.

  • Offers Less Value - Admittedly, Slack isn’t a project management tool. However, you can find PM software that offers task management capabilities, reporting, and chat for about what you’d pay to use Slack to communicate. As such, Slack doesn’t offer the best bang for your buck.

  • Video & Voice Call Problems - A number of users have noted problems with Slack’s video and voice calls. Not only can calls be slow to connect, but it’s also not uncommon for them to suddenly be dropped.

  • Mobile App Issues - Some users complain that when using the Slack mobile app, they experience syncing issues, bugs, and missed notifications. As a result, the Slack mobile app reviews on both the Google Play Store and Apple Store are lower than what you find for similar workplace apps.

Who Is Slack Best For?

Slack is best for:

  • Remote or hybrid teams that need real-time chat capabilities
  • Smaller teams that don’t require task-management software
  • Businesses with time-sensitive projects that want a tool for collaboration
  • Freelancers who want to network with other freelancers via Slack’s niche-specific channels
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We’ve been building and selling software online since 2005

And along the way, we’ve used just about every well-known project management tool out there.


While they were OK, we never found one tool that offered all of the important functionality we needed to manage our large teams and projects. Instead, we were forced to patchwork together a few different PM tools to meet our needs … which wasn’t efficient or cost-effective!

Rather than continue doing that, we decided to build our own PM software. One that does EVERYTHING you need to manage a remote team of people, ultra-effectively … without all the confusing features nobody actually uses or the unbelievably steep learning curve that goes hand-in-hand with most PM software.

It’s called Teamly, and best of all, you can get your absolutely FREE account by clicking the button below.

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