Why Clade Loves ClickUp (Pt. 1)

Brenton Murrell
May 27 · 5 min read
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My project is complicated! Where do I put everything?!

Well hello! If you’re reading this, odds are you’re looking for a project management tool that isn’t Jira or Trello. Perhaps you’re frustrated with the lack of flexibility found in many services, or maybe you’re just getting into the management game and don’t know where to start. We at Clade have collectively spent a lot of time bouncing between project management products trying to find something that works for all the different kinds of work we tackle as a design agency, and we have some good news: we think we’ve finally found something great in ClickUp!

ClickUp’s biggest draw is its ability to display the same information in many different ways, depending on what the user needs. Being able to quickly toggle between viewing tasks as list items, Kanban cards, calendar events, or as durations within a Gantt chart is a great way to consume information effectively (especially for us visual-oriented people). This means our team members can view their tasks any way they want; it’s the best of all worlds!

What further separates ClickUp from the rest is its rich set of project management features — tasks can have both start and end dates, multiple assignees, rich text formatting, attachments, checklists, subtasks, comments, and a lot more. And since users can create custom fields to handle anything else they might desire, we’ve found ClickUp to be just as deep as enterprise tools like Jira but with the simplicity of Trello.

That sounds like a lot!

Like you, we’re juggling multiple kinds of projects. Some weeks it’s only a few things, but then we’ll suddenly have three billion projects happening all at once. Instead of screaming into the heavens we can use ClickUp’s versatility to keep all our various work in one place.

It’s important that before we do anything in ClickUp we determine the project type, duration, and its roadmap. This is usually done in early conversations with potential clients, often before any sort of official engagement has begun. After initial conversations with the client our senior team heads to the whiteboard to come up with a list of features and/or deliverables (depending on project type) required to complete the project, as well as the general time needed to complete each one. From there we’re able to generate a basic project roadmap and scope-of-work agreement which we can present to the client before final buy-off.

With our roadmap in hand, we can start to map the project out in ClickUp!

I like trees — is ClickUp a tree?

No! But ClickUp does have a tree-like structure; its basic hierarchy is:

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While each level has a clear relationship to the levels above and below it, it’s up to users to decide how they want to use this structure. In our case, we typically stick with the following:

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As an agency this works best for us because it isolates individual clients to their own Spaces — this allows us to control user access and permissions on a client-by-client basis which a) lets our team members keep their heads down on the work and b) ensures we don’t violate any confidentiality agreements (always a plus!).

Yeah but I bet it doesn’t handle task statuses well

It’s the exact opposite, you fool! ClickUp has a ton of flexibility when it comes to statuses — you can pretty much do whatever you want.

Before you get too excited, first understand that by default, a List inside of a Space inherits the Space’s available Statuses, but users can set List-specific Statuses if they so choose. However! We avoid doing that at all costs (it messes up things like task aggregation and reporting, something we’ll cover in a later article), instead sticking with the same five Statuses across everything in ClickUp:

  • Backlog: tasks here have to get done someday but are either blocked or aren’t of any immediate concern. Also a good place to put reminders!
  • To Do: tickets that are ready to start! These tickets are unblocked and have otherwise received the green light to begin.
  • In Progress: self-explanatory. These are tickets that team members are actively working on.
  • Ready for Review: tickets that are done but need to be reviewed, either by a senior team member or by the client.
  • Done: tickets that are completely done! ClickUp leaves these in the “Done” status until either archived (recommended) or deleted entirely.

Notice that each Status reflects the phases a given Task may go through during its life cycle, from inception to completion. We’ve found that any task we do — no matter the type — can logically fit into any one of these statuses. They work for both our design process and development — for example, Ready for Review can mean either “These wireframes are ready for someone to look at” or “I’ve submitted a pull request for review.”

Also contained within each Space and/or List are Documents (à la Confluence), Forms (for surveys), chat, and the ability to embed anything with an HTML <embed> link (great for reference material or to directly integrate something into your ClickUp project). So far the feature we’ve used most is Documents, since it provides a single source of truth to team members without asking them to leave the platform.

Thank you. That was a lot, but I think I get it now.

You’re right. All of this was just a long way of saying: in our experience, ClickUp is versatile and simple enough for us to manage all of our projects in one place. It’s great! We’re big fans!

Now that we’ve given an overview of why we like ClickUp, we’ll next talk about the different types of projects we work on and how they’re each specifically configured. See you then!

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