Update: Clubhouse.io has been rebranded to Shortcut.com.
This step was taken to avoid confusion and search collision with the social media app Clubhouse. Everything else, it’s the same.
The term scalability is often thrown around a lot when it comes to describing project management tools.
After all, everyone wants to cater to a vast range of businesses. And yet, few succeed in the endeavor. Today, we’re looking at a tool that does all this and more!
With most management tools, one faces the challenge of onboarding and learning new steps every day. Moreover, a huge number of ongoing projects can result in a dash that is hard to navigate through.
Clubhouse solves all this by using a multi-layer Russian Doll approach. While you might be familiar with this from various other project management tools, Clubhouse adds its own twist to make it easier and cleaner.
Clubhouse – Project Management without Management
Clubhouse is a project management tool that allows teams to work collaboratively. The CEO Kurt Schrader himself stated that Clubhouse was made keeping in mind management, product and engineering teams.
Before we get in, it’s necessary to explain some of the terminologies that Clubhouse uses to explain their dash. These are:
- Story – A story is any task that needs to be done. It has a heading, a description and file attachment space. Stories can be marked as open or complete. Other markers include things like “follow up with client” and so on. Stories can also be connected to one another to show interdependent tasks.
- Epics – An epic is a header given to a series of stories. They have a specific workflow. In other words, completing the tasks of the epics will fill up a taskbar. An epic can contain multiple projects.
- Projects – Projects are a collection of stories. However, they do not have a flow and are open-ended.
- Milestones – As the name suggests, one can set up milestones based on how many stories or epics have been completed. These were created for management to get a complete overview of the project without getting into the details of each step.
Clubhouse has an extremely simple and easy onboarding process. You can log in with your Gmail or corporate ID. Throughout the onboarding, Clubhouse asks for information regarding the kind of work you will be performing and allows the option of adding team members at an early stage. The tour is extremely short, without much data dump and has cool graphics.
At this stage Clubhouse also asks if you are looking for a guided tour or would like to get to work, which is an interesting feature for new users. However, Clubhouse does have a learning curve like any wide-scope management tool. So, let’s take a look at the features and how well they come together.
The opening dashboard is quite simple and intuitive. In fact, we’d say it’s much easier on the eyes than some other options. One can immediately get an overview of all pending tasks. Moreover, Clubhouse allows you to filter the tasks in each category based on their completion status.
To the right is an activity feed that allows you to oversee your and your team member’s recent activities. To the left is a taskbar that allows you to navigate through epics, milestones and more.
On the top are options for help, support and a guided tour that you can restart anytime. A lightning button shows a list of quick keyboard shortcuts that can make using the tool that much faster!
The overall hierarchy is quite clear even if the terminology is not.
Clubhouse clearly places them under the right headers. There is a color distinction used to label different projects however, we will get to that in the next stage. You can use the Create Story button on top anytime to create a new story, epic, milestone, iteration, label, project, or even team!
The stories section outlines all the individual tasks and their current status. However, with the new terminology, it is a bit difficult to understand at first how the stories board separates itself from the status board.
Essentially here, stories from each and every project and epic are included. In other words, it is a preview of all the tasks left to be done, irrespective of project sorting. This is a great morning overview for employees looking to glance at their tasks of the day. Clubhouse follows a Kanban flow throughout.
Clubhouse divides the stories using many different types of labels. They are:
- Project Status – This may be Unscheduled, Ready for Development, In Development, Ready for Deployment, and Ready for Review. They appear as four columns separating the screen and each story will be under the appropriate header. This visual screening is highly effective at absorbing data at a glance. Changing the project status of a story is as simple as dragging it from under one header to placing it under another.
- Colour – Next we come to the label color to the left of the story. This color is an indication of the project that the story falls under. Currently, all stories present on the board shown belong to the “Product Development” project which is assigned a blue color. Apart from this, the story card has further dots on them with different colors. These are the labels assigned to the project and may range from a priority basis indication to anything else. Labels can be created at any time. You can think of them as being similar to Gmail labels that help you label items as important or not. Here, we’ve used labels to indicate that the projects are of high priority and related to front-end development.
- Spaces – To the left is another filtering area called Spaces. Via spaces, you can filter stories based on your own activity. It includes filters like – owned by me, requested by me, updated in the last week and so on. You can set up new Spaces anytime from this tab. Spaces are essentially another level of filtering.
- Type – This refers to whether the story is a feature, a chore or a bug. Here, you can see a story represented with a red bug as a type.
Finally, apart from these divisive tools, Clubhouse has its own filter to the left which is quite extensive! You can sort stories with any kind of element like whether it has attachments or not, external links or not, date of updating, label, epic state and more.
Clubhouse definitely offers a high level of filtering which the management team might find useful when dealing with a long funnel. However, the filters are distributed all across the UI and certainly take some time to understand and use.
Setting up a story is extremely easy. The interface is quite similar to that used in Trello, though with many more features. You can assign a title and a description along with attachments.
Apart from this, stories can be given all of the above labels and types. They can be assigned to different projects and be requested from specific members of the team. In an incredible inception piece, a story in itself can contain multiple tasks.
At this point, we’ve stopped keeping count of how in-depth Clubhouse allows one to go and if this is necessary.
An interesting feature here is that stories can be related to one another. One can set up connections like is related to, is blocked by, is duplicated by and so on. This is quite a cool feature and can be useful when looking at the overall work funnel since many tasks are often carried out parallelly. Any story can be assigned with a milestone so that its completion stars the milestone.
As states, epics contain a series of projects or stories. At a glance, one can see each Epic that is currently active. The table also lists how many stories are contained within each epic and a percentage that denotes the stories that are completed. It also states the start and due date of the epic.
Epics can be grouped based on their milestones, epic state or teams for an easier overview.
Again, there are several filtering options at the top based on the ownership, completion status of the epic and more. Similar to stories, epics can also be labeled as high priority or with other labels. Assigning a due date to an epic means assigning a completion date for all the stories within it.
Clicking on the Epic opens up a page where you can see in detail the stories underneath it and their completion stage. You can edit the stories from this stage or assign labels.
However, what is interesting is that once you scroll down, you can see a visual representation of how the work is going on. Clubhouse offers four types of visual reports for the Epics.
However, we will discuss them in detail under the Reports section.
Epics and stories can be connected to a milestone. Here, you can see that two of our epics have been assigned to a milestone. Hence, completing the stories within that will complete the Epic and then the Milestone. Milestones are the overall view which the project leader can use to assess the tasks.
In other words, it is yet another iteration in the Russian-doll style that Clubhouse is using.
The Milestones can be filtered based on their state of completion, category, projects and labels.
To the left, the Epic Backlog section shows all the epics that are currently not assigned to milestones. Assigning them is simply a matter of dragging and dropping them under the right header. Clubhouse allows one to view the milestone and epic chart in the form of either tables or columns.
The UI is simple and everything is clear at a glance. The table view is preferable when one deals with hundreds of tasks.
By clicking on a milestone, you can see the epics under it. By clicking on an Epic, you return to the stories under it. And at each stage, you can scroll down to find reports and visual graphs. The graphs include a Burndown Chart, Cycle Time, Velocity Chart, and Cumulative Chart.
Iterations are stories or tasks that are repeated over time. They allow the team to set an internal time limit on reports or deliveries and thus, track their progress over time. Iterations have a starting date and an ending date and thus, they encourage the team to stay within those limits.
This is yet another example of where we found Clubhouse’s exclusive terminology to be elusive at best. Overall, we found the Iterations feature to be something of limited use. But Clubhouse works in the sense that one does not need to use all these features!
You can skip out on creating iterations or even epics. The tool is extremely scalable and allows one to work using selective features just as well.
Roadmap is an overview of all the Epics done to date. The layout uses a bar to show the extent of each completed epic. By hovering on top of an Epic name you can see the exact time during which it was active. The roadmap allows you to filter the epics based on their categories, teams, labels, projects and more.
It is a visual overview of the project. And Clubhouse offers a great “Present” feature which hides the panels on the side and gives the roadmap a full screen. You can directly project it from here. Roadmap is not the only visual tracker Clubhouse offers. The next in line is the Status tab.
As the name suggests, the status shows a complete overview of every ongoing project. The difference between the Status tracker and the Roadmap is that Roadmaps only show Epics. Whereas the Status tracker focuses on showing the status of projects. Here, you can see all projects side-by-side. Roadmap only shows the epics within a specific project.
Similar to other tabs, it allows filtering with multiple labels. The tab is interesting in that, you do not only need to see the items project-wise. If y0u have a team of members, you can set up the Status tab so that it shows the status of each member. In this way, you can get an overview of the stories completed by each member.
Smaller teams can use the stories view. This expands on the project and allows a card-like view. Larger teams can use the Compact view. Such viewing consideration is present in the other tabs as well which is an interesting insight on Clubhouse’s part.
Clubhouse has spared no expense in the case of analytics and we can look at some well-done reports at every stage. While you can view reports for any Epic or Project from their own tab, the Reports section offers a cumulative view of them all. Even here, you can use the filters to see only Epics or only Projects.
The different types of reports included are:
The velocity chart offers an overview of the stories completed on each day and the story type. It also offers an average of the tasks done per day. The overall visuals are extremely clear and easy to read. And it’s a great way to see the total work done at the end of the day! Stories here are included from every project and epic, irrespective of team members.
Cycle Time / Lead Time Chart
This chart shows two things. It shows the total cycle time between the starting and completion of a story. And lead time refers to the time between the creation of the story and its completion. While working on a story, the user can activate it by moving it into the In-Progress tab. This allows one to see how long the story was dormant and how long the time taken to complete a story is.
This is a representation of the amount of work left with respect to the amount of time left in that particular story or epic. Clubhouse measures this with the help of a point-based strategy. One can configure the settings of the points based on their workflow.
Time Spent In Workflow State Chart
This is an overview of how much time each completed story spends within a workflow state. One can only see a single workflow at any given time.
Created vs. Completed Chart
This shows the number of stories created versus the number of stories completed on a day-to-day basis. Here, one can see the comparison based on the story count or based on the point system, that is – points created vs. points completed.
Other Tabs and Features
Apart from the above views, Clubhouse allows one to oversee the projects, teams and labels at any time. These are shown as follows:
The Projects tab contains all projects along with a description. You can assign each project a new color from this place. All it does is show the total projects and the stories within them. There is no filtering or labelling option. This is only meant to be a setting or management type space, not an overview or reports page.
Of course, if you choose to open a project, you will be directed to a detailed view of all the stories within it and so on. Here, you can choose to follow a certain project so that you receive notifications about activities.
This shows all the active teams within the project. You can add a new team in this section or edit existing ones. The total number of stories assigned to that specific team is also visible.
You can filter teams by a specific member present in the team. While creating, you can assign an “@” name to the team that you can use subsequently during conversations and comments to tag or notify them.
The labels section shows all labels created. You can add new labels here and assign them to the stories and epics. The view also shows the total number of epics and stories with that label and their completion stage. By default, Clubhouse has 4 labels but you can add new ones, and assign colors to them.
By clicking on the label, you will be directed to a detailed view of the stories and epics under that label. This will also include a Burndown chart showing the label’s performance.
API and Integrations
Clubhouse integrates with Zapier which in itself makes it eligible for over 400 integrations. Some of the top integrations available are HoneyBadger, Box, Instabug, Bugsnag, Sentry, Calendar, Slack, Dropbox, Status Hero, GitHub and more.
After adding integrations from the settings, one can switch them on or off anytime, which is a really cool addition. Software development teams will surely appreciate the REST API support that allows one to make their own integrations and also get a data access token.
Smaller businesses can rejoice as Clubhouse has a forever free package that allows up to 10 members! The free package offers all core features including stories, epics, workspaces and more.
Apart from this, Clubhouse has a Standard package that charges 8.50 USD per user per month.
The flexibility offered is great however, for even a team of 25 members, the costs shoot up more than those of other available tools. Finally, there is a custom package for larger agencies.
Overall, Clubhouse is an excellent project management tool to use though it requires some time to get used to. This is mainly because of the exclusive terminology and was it works. However, kudos to the team for making the interface extremely easy to navigate through.
The reports and overviews at multiple levels retain scalability. The ticketing system used is also very effective in offering team members a constant overview of their work.
The consistency of the Kanban board layout makes understanding each step easier. Though smaller teams might find many of the features to be an add-on that is not often used.
Clubhouse takes security very seriously. Any attachment uploaded on the site is encrypted. Changes in permissions are carried out at the API level. Clubhouse itself runs a Static security analysis multiple times daily. A secure private network is used for all data storage and Clubhouse does not access any of it.
Clubhouse offers an iOS app however there is no Andoird app as of date. It is also available for iPad. On the whole, Clubhouse seems to be a great option for those working in software product development. In fact, its main users do belong to the tech industry, based on a poll by Cuspera.
On the whole, Clubhouse certainly ticks all boxes for us and we’d recommend it to agencies of every level.