Project management tools are an essential part of any digital business. There are so many great tools to choose from, and when you think about how they can work in tandem with one another, the possibilities are exponential. While choice and flexibility are great realities, they can also make it difficult to choose the right tool for you and your team.
Once you have chosen the tool you're faced with the next level of variability -- how to set up your projects. While many tools offer great templates as starting points and inspiration, more often than not, you'll find yourself adding your own flair to find the organization and workflow that work best for you and your team.
In the spirit of sharing some learning as we continue to iterate on our own processes, we wanted to share 3 project organization structures that have worked well for our team within our home, ClickUp.
1. Kanban-style boards categorized by status 🔴 🟡 🟢
Well trusted and commonly adopted, kanban style organization of tasks is a really visually clear way to organize what you and your team have on your plate at any given time. The principle behind this approach is to define task statuses for your project and in a linear fashion, shift task cards through these statuses from ideation to completion.
In the example above, you can see that we have adopted this approach for managing client projects. We have defined status to include a column for upcoming design requests, in-progress designs, designs currently awaiting internal feedback, external feedback, and a repository of closed projects.
We love this approach for its simplicity and easy-to-visualize benefits. Often, we share this view with our clients during touch base calls to ensure that everyone is clear on what tasks lie ahead of us and which may be stuck awaiting feedback.
Simple and highly effective, we recommend this approach for teams getting started with managing their workflows. As projects become more complex, additional features such as color-coding, tags, dependencies, and automation can help bring this system to the next level.
2. Tasks with design stages as checkpoints 📍 🗺
A more granular view of a sample task shares another approach we find helpful at Matcha Design Labs (MDL) formally known as AMSD. As a team where multiple designers may be collaborating on a given deliverable, using subtasks helps us keep a clear pulse on the status of a project. Within a task, we are able to assign specific design stages to different designers. We can also assign a priority, due date, and time estimate to each of these subtasks for an even finer magnification on the progress of an overall task at any given time.
With this increased level of granularity, comes additional attention that must be paid to keep a pulse on the project overall and keep everyone on track. We recommend experimenting with different levels of granularity for your own projects to find the sweet spot for optimal awareness among team members without micromanaging along the way.
3. Document Hubs 🗃 🗂
The great thing about a robust tool like ClickUp is that we can manage internal documentation alongside our client projects. Having said that, the demands of our internal projects vary greatly from those of our client projects when it comes to organization. To address this, we have instituted another style of organizing content -- a document hub.
In the example above, you're seeing a snapshot of our MDL Hub. Here, as an example, we have built a design playbook that outlines processes and resources for any MDL team member to visit and learn processes at their own pace and when it is most relevant to them. Creating a space containing folders and lists gives us a clear hierarchy for our resources.
We recommend using a project management style like this one when your content is more evergreen. Creating a digital filing cabinet using this format helps keep everyone and everything organized. (This is especially helpful for remote teams looking to create a one-stop location for all company docs!)
While these 3 ideas are among many available to you as you manage your projects, we hope we have inspired you to do a little Spring cleaning!
Project management and hyper-organization come naturally to some and not-so-naturally to others. Finding a system that works for you can be a game of trial and error. If you're not sure where to start, be sure to visit template libraries in your favorite tools for inspiration. If you're looking for a second opinion, reaching out to teams who conduct similar business to yours can be very enlightening. There's always someone who is ready and willing to share their ideas for managing an efficient process.
We're here to chat if you're looking to reconfigure your design projects! Connect with us at www.matchadesignlabs.com.