Part II: How We Configure Our Projects Within ClickUp
Hi again! Previously we covered why we at Clade use ClickUp for project management instead of other platforms. This week we’ll get into how we scope out different types of projects within ClickUp. A word of caution: this time around things are a little more technical and more detailed, so it’s a bit of a longer read.
Any project we work on can be categorized in one of two ways: “time-bound” and “ongoing” projects. Time-bound projects — which represent something around 80% of our work — follow the standard agency project model, i.e. a client approaches us with a product they need, we design and deliver it, and the project ends. Ongoing projects typically consist of us supporting enterprise apps and software where continuous updates and maintenance are required with no set end date.
Fortunately, each type of project maps neatly to two distinct project management methodologies: waterfall (for time-bound projects) and agile (for ongoing projects). ClickUp’s innate flexibility means we can plan out both project types without any ham-handing.
What does ham have to d-
Then just tell me how you set stuff up so I can copy it later
Configuring Time-Bound (Waterfall) Projects in ClickUp:
The goal of every time-bound project is to finish both on time and within the set budget (delivering a great product is a given). Thus, we use the waterfall method for scoping the project, as all tasks are contained within a single, sequential project.
Waterfall projects map to ClickUp’s structure as follows:
- Space = the client
- List = the specific project
- Task = a given feature or service needed to complete the project
As we mentioned in Pt. I, at the start of any project we create a basic project roadmap that lays out each and every feature/requirement, estimates for the time/effort needed to complete each, and start and end dates for each. The beauty of using the waterfall methodology for time-bound projects is that the roadmap essentially contains all of the information we need, which leads us to:
Step 1: Create tasks
- Create one task for each feature listed in the roadmap
- Add start dates, end dates, and time estimates to each task based on the roadmap
We add time estimates to each ticket for a few reasons:
- It lets the ticket’s assignee understand the amount of work required up front
- It allows ClickUp to calculate Time Estimate values when generating reports (more on this next week)
- It allows ClickUp to calculate a given team member’s workload in terms of time
Step 2: Assign dependencies to each task (where applicable)
Utilizing dependencies help us clearly visualize the flow of the project, as well as enabling ClickUp to automatically shift dates for dependent tasks if/when the dates of any are changed. It’s a neat little feature that, once set up, makes evolving projects much easier to deal with.
Step 3: Add checklists and/or subtasks to bigger tasks
At this point we might already be done setting everything up in ClickUp, especially if the project is particularly straightforward. However, if some tasks need to be broken down further (or if a given task can be broken up to be assigned to different team members) we can add a checklist to a task or even break it down into separate subtasks. Between checklists and subtasks ClickUp actually has more depth to tasks than any other platform we tried!
Configuring Ongoing Projects in ClickUp:
Ongoing projects are by nature more nebulous than a time-bound project, so we scope them following “agile” best practices. Since this kinds of projects require us to be flexible we use a slightly different structure:
- Space = the client and the project
- List = sprints, the backlog, and a single list containing all epics
- Tasks = epics, stories, and tickets
The reason we combine the client and the project into one Space is because we need to be able to create a backlog and individual sprints as individual lists under one umbrella. This allows us to keep our tickets organized. Once we begin a sprint we do not add or remove tickets from it, so any new tickets need to live in the backlog until they’re added to a given sprint.
Before we get into building out agile projects it’s important to note two “types” of tasks unique to agile projects:
- Epics — big (sometimes ‘UGE) chunks of work that span multiple sprints and contain multiple Stories
- Stories — large tasks that contain smaller, actionable tasks
In ClickUp, we create epics initially the same way we would create a normal task, but with the addition of an “epic” tag and a checklist that contains links to related tickets. Epic tasks live inside an “Epics” list (adjacent to sprints) as they don’t belong to a specific sprint. Whenever a ticket belongs to an epic, we add a link to that ticket within the given epic’s checklist. This allows us to keep all associated tickets in one easy-to-find place and enables ClickUp’s to track an Epic’s progress feature based on its number of completed vs. incomplete checklist items.
Stories also start out the same way as tasks, with the only difference being that stories will contain subtasks with individual requirements.
With that out of the way, here’s how we handle tasks for agile projects:
- Create any known Epics
- Create tasks, including start date, end date, dependencies, and associated Epics (if applicable)
- If the task is large, treat it as a Story containing smaller subtasks
- If the task is associated with an Epic, link them
- Add user stories to tasks
- Add story point values to tasks
Oh, right! Story points! With the exception of epics, every task must have a story point estimate. While we use story points for the obvious reason of making sure sprints have the correct amount of allocated work, we also use them alongside time estimate values to monitor project health, workloads, and run reports. We’ll talk about these in more detail next time!
That was a lot!
Yes! This is a full-time job! Ha ha! Just remember: ClickUp is only as complex as you want it to be; many of our recommendations may be overkill for you and your team even if they work for ours. Sometimes it’s best to just jump in and get your hands dirty.