Optimal size & number of projects

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A project that was way too big: It started as project Kbshop, which spawned subprojects like this one: Kbshop10 - PoC04 with PoC04 probably meaning Proof of Concept number 4. And this subproject has 9 folders. Are those 9 subsubprojects? No: They are probably just tasks (I would nowadays probably use Trello- or Notion tasks for this, rather than folders)
Too big or not? This was project TourFR: Cloning & translating a Dutch webshop into three French webshops. These folders actually all represent tasks. I think that nowadays, these would mostly be Trello- or Notion cards. I think it was correct to put this all in one project

I've often been struggling with partitioning a body of work (e.g., everything for customer X) in the right number of projects. Let's see...

Too big a project: When subprojects emerge

Some years ago, I was migrating a webshop from Drupal to WordPress. Along the way, pretty much everything got reinvented. Originally, the project was called Kbshop. Subsequently, it spawned into a bunch of projects (or subprojects), called Kbhop01 to Kbshop15.

In hindsight, these were 15 different projects:

  • Some of these subprojects were really small and others contains endless folders with subsubprojects or something like that
  • Whenever I need to find something back, I still tend to be surprised when I find it somewhere within the folder Kbshop: Wasn't that about migrating a site to WordPress?
  • Heterogenious expertise → See separate chapter.

BTW, whenever the term subproject is used, it's probably already a sign that the project is too big.

Too big a project: Heterogeneous expertises?

Another example involving the project Kbshop from the previous chapter: These 15 subprojects were heterogenious concerning the kind of work that was involved. E.g., Kbshop11 was about launching a prototype site at a certain URL and Kbshop15 had to do with business development.

That's probably a sign that these should be separate projects, although not always: Every project probably involved heterogeneous expertise, like a content writer and a theme-developer working together on a site.

When this is an issue: When you actually would have to have to different project teams.

Too many projects: "Where does this belong?"

Maybe a sign that a body of work is partitioned in too many projects: When it's difficult to decide whether task X should belong at project Y or project Z.

I believe that clustering (e.g., using tags) can be really helpful in such situations: Keep it one project, but use clustering to create different views.

Too many projects: Diminishing overview

Similar to the previous chapter: When there are too many projects, it will become really hard for me to understand what any specific project is about. Especially when dependencies amongst these projects start to appear - That's driving me nuts.

Should projects be without any outside dependencies at all? I doubt if this could be a general rule.

Not a criterion: Too many items in Trello

I don't think that it is much of a criterion when there are too many lists and/or tasks in the used project management apps (like Trello or Notion):

  • BrushFace was one of the projects in 2020-2023 that went really well. It was actually a collection of projects, all run on one Trello board. It had about 150 tasks and that was never an issue
  • Too many tasks? No worries: Just make sure that there are at least a couple of tasks that people can work on, while the next tasks are being reviewed.

Example: How to do it right

Juhu! Let's see if I can fix this:

Old situation

At one point I had projects/Trello boards like these:

Project Notes
BrushFace Everyhing related to site interface & custom site functionality, because these two things were developed by the same person. This was actually a collection of about 7 different projects. They were not related to any specific site, but to the theme used by all sites. BTW: This is pretty much the only project here, that wasn't done by only myself.
TourFR Create the French site
ShopUp Update webshops. Could be anything. From arranging a license for a plugin to updating images
fr_fr - Update Update the French site
GrowSpurt Website updates concerning project GrowSpurt
Other Various website-related things, including from text messages coming from the customer: I felt like treating those seperate from the other projects. They were also rather 'random', so they usually didn't fit in any other project


  • Dedication: Creating a site is a focused effort with a deadline → TourFR should be its own project
  • BrushFace is rather a collection of projects, or maybe a department, business as usual (BAU), operations or area in the parlance of Building a Second Brain. I could split it into the approx. 7 projects that it comprizes, but why? It's all done by the same person → It's the BAU theming. This has several projects, but not separate Trello boards
  • The other Trello boards (except maybe some items from Other) are all about updating webshops. They are not really projects, but rather an operational activity → Combine them and use clustering if needed.

New situation

Naam Entity Notes
BrushFace Operations This is the area Theming or Website user interface. It contains about 7 projects (or sub-areas), but without separate Trello boards, mostly because stuff is done by one person
TourFR Project Create the French site and deliver in wk09. Team consists of three persons
ShopUp Operations This is the area Webshop maintenance. It's not really a project, but rather an operational activity, department or area:
  • It contains everything related to webshop maintenance and update, that is not incorporated elsewhere in projects
  • Use clustering when needed
  • Maybe use labels or clusters to indicate that a task might apply to multiple sites - Rather than copying a task 35 times?
  • Team consists of about five persons

See also