Hill Charts

What's a Hill Chart?

When projects require problem solving, you can’t track progress with to-dos alone. To-dos show what’s done and not done. They don’t show  what’s unknown and where the team is getting stuck.

Before someone can complete a task they first have to figure out how to do it. There’s an “uphill” phase where they learn what’s possible and try out different approaches before settling on the right direction.
Once work is “over the hill,” you can count on it happening. The unknowns are gone and estimates become believable.

Hill Charts give you a bird's eye view of what's moving forward with confidence and what isn't. You'll know exactly where to jump in and troubleshoot — without all the meetings it usually takes to figure out what's going on.

We created Hill Charts to give you a quick, flexible visualization of where your projects stand, and what questions need to be answered in order to keep progress moving. 

Add a To-do list to a Hill Chart

To track a list, click the name of the to-do list and then choose “Track on the Hill Chart” from the options menu. The Hill Chart appears when at least one list is being tracked. 

After enabling Hill Charts for at least one list, To-dos will look a bit different:

Each tracked list will get a colorful Dot beside it and it will appear on the Hill. 

Clients will see any to-do lists that you've marked as visible to them, but they will not see the Hill Chart. 

You'll also see the Hill Chart on the To-dos card:

Update a Hill Chart

The dots on a Hill Chart won't move automatically — you adjust them as you go. To move the dots, click the Update button and drag them to their new position:

You can also add an optional note about the update, providing some context for the progress you've made or the roadblocks you've hit:

You can also choose who to notify about your Hill Chart update. You can notify just the folks working on the project, everyone who can see the project, or no one at all:

When you choose to notify someone, they'll see an entry in their Hey! menu. Clicking this line will take them directly to the Hill Chart Progress page where they can see the latest changes (and the full history):

For people receiving email notifications, they'll get an email with the text as well as a link to the full update.

Progress History

You can review all your updates to a Hill Chart, so you can see progress over time.

Updates are grouped by date, can be commented on, and even Boosted. Want to delete or edit an update? You can do that from the ••• menu in the upper right:

Setting Up the Hill Chart

Inside the To-dos ••• menu, you can quickly toggle each list on/off the Hill.

If you uncheck all of the lists, you'll remove the Hill Chart entirely.

Are you a product development team? You may want to check out Shape Up.
You'll see firsthand how the team at Basecamp uses Hill Charts and other specific techniques to address the risks and unknowns at each stage of the product development process.

Next up: Schedule →

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