I’m dipping my toes into coda having been running a small business using notion (5 staff + freelancers) for a while. I’m spending a bit of time getting to know coda - I’m 90% sure it can do everything we’ve been doing on notion (great) but I’m specifically looking to implement some new fairly simple project management features for a long term project we have starting in a month or so time.
We have traditionally had fairly simple projects. They last weeks - and generally have been assigned to a single person to work on. We have a single giant project database - giving us project number and details of the project. Things like if its a pitch, lead, won, budget, start and end dates, and a basic brief. Nothing usually takes staff more than 8 or so hours of actual time / effort, and the actual “job” pipeline is straight forward. People can pick up someone elses project just by looking on the server at project files.
However, we have accepted a new much longer term project, and I’m struggling to figure out the best way to create a system in coda to help us manage it.
I’ll try explain how its setup in really broad terms, as well as expressing the types of things we’d like the project management to help with.
- This new project for one is going to run about 9 months.
- It is made up of 26 identical sub-projects. Indeed, it may well expand beyond these 26 in the future, but 26 are confirmed. That they are identical should help with the data-setup :).
- Each sub-project has a pipeline that will take 3 to 4 weeks. Each pipe-line is around 20 to 25 steps in length. I’m trying to simplify this right now :).
- Each sub-project will have at least 2 staff working on it, and possibly more. The same staff will mostly handle the same tasks of the sub-projects, but not always. [So we’ll want to autofill people for tasks but be able to easily change who is on what]
- Each sub-project can start / finish on different dates. Each sub-project will have 3 (or possibly 4) milestones which will need to be set out in a calendar.
- Some of the tasks are very simple - and can take just 5 to 10 mins. Others can be 8 hours + of work.
We’d really like to track hours on the different tasks associated with sub-projects. We will estimate the time for each step, and then track the real time used. Not sure if I can achieve that easily in coda or if we will need a third party timer involved. We use harvest in the past, and can see a way to do that. It might be that we develop some sort of syncing of data! Unless others have successfully setup task timers in coda? Oh how I’d love infinite time to dive into some of these rabbit holes
We will need some sort of overall view which shows the entire project on a gnatt chart or calendar, with each milestone showing up as either coming up, late, delivered etc. I get the feeling some sort of gnatt chart with clever colouring might do this in a really simple way. (Perhaps having the intended timeline shown, as well as an actual timeline shown.)
Each sub project will have around 25 tasks. Being able to dig down into a sub-project and easily see where the project is up to is extremely important. Possibly even by clicking through from the gnatt chart / calendar. We will have a manager who will be all over the project, but she will only be working 3 days a week on it. So other staff will also need to be able to see. Its also possible the overall status of the whole project (so status of where each sub-project is up to) will need to be sharable in read-only form to our clients.
Now - onto how to do this.
On one level, I could see a single database being possible but probably not that useful.
Lines being sub projects, and each task of the pipeline being a column. Indeed, you’d need multiple extra columns to hold projected and actual times, as well as key pipeline dates. And columns for attaching people to the tasks. All possible, but I can imagine this table will get HUGE and potentially unwieldily.
However - that approach could also mean that we don’t overcomplicate things, which I’ve seen happen many-a-time.
So what other possible way of doing this have we got? This is where I need to dive more into coda to see whats possible.
I guess I’m after a 3 dimensional approach of data - at least in my head. Especially given all the sub-projects are identical.
Do I just make a project page for each of the sub-projects. That would make the database design easy enough, but how would one represent all that data in a single place? Some quick messing around / reading docs here seems to say that it would be possible… I’m just not certain I’ve searched for the right words yet as I’ve not seen anything which has made me go “YES! Thats it - thats the way I need to approach this!”.
Or do I make a single large task database which is referenced to a staff database which is also ref’d to a project database?
I’d really love to hear how others here would approach this. I understand its all pretty newbie, but I’m also sure there’s others with far more knowledge who will know the best practice in setting something like this up.
Many thanks for any ideas.