Overview

Trello is a project management tool, which offers drag and drop functionality and a Kanban type approach to project organisation. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kanban, it originated from the automotive industry and was first used by Toyota as part of their production system. It was designed to smooth production by signalling from one workstation to another that needed more work. It was the first pull rather than push system, so instead of inventory piling up at a workstation, they only produced what the next station in the production line could use. This process was put in place to reduce stocks and waste and increase efficiency and effectiveness.

So how does that relate to you and your project, especially if you are producing a virtual product to sell to customers or you provide a service? Well, every business needs to ensure they are working towards their goals. The easiest way to know what progress you are making is to create a plan and then review the plan to see how you are doing.

Because Trello is user friendly and easy to learn and adaptable to your needs, it gives you the platform to manage your daily tasks, create your strategy, plan for the next 90 days, or manage a project from start to finish. You can also add recurring tasks by using Zapier or If This, Then That, both of which have free versions.

At the top level, there are boards and each one represents a project, where you can organise your tasks and collaborate with your team if you have one.

The board comprises a number of lists, which are based on your high-level activities. Mine tend to have one for brain dumping everything, one for each of the main topics which come out of that brainstorm and then one for completed tasks. If you use it to organise your week, you can use it to record everything you need to get done, then drag and drop to the appropriate day. If you find you’ve planned everything for Monday and Thursday, then you can reorganise to smooth out your workload around those days you have less to do.

 

At the task level, there are cards.  These are used to represent tasks and ideas and you can have as many cards as you like per board. These cards contain all the information that you need to complete the task. You can add checklists for tasks which require subtasks, due dates, attachments from both local drives and many cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive so everything you need is in one place. You can add more information regarding the task to your card including links to websites, or step by step directions.

To help manage your cards you can add labels to organise your information by categories. So if you were doing one for a project, you could have a label for operations, 1 for logistics, 1 for purchasing etc.

You could also use the labels to prioritise. Have one colour for high priority, 1 for medium and another for low. You can even enable the colourblind option, which adds a pattern to the side of the label, so there’s less likelihood of errors. As you can see, it’s quite a flexible tool.

You can then use these labels for filtering and data visualisation, so a really useful tool for managing your workload. Comments can be added to cards when communicating with team members about a task. You can also @ mention someone to notify them in a comment. The activity feed shows the history of actions that have taken place on a card and creates a timeline of events as progress is made.

Lists keep cards organised in their various stages of progress. They can be used to create a workflow, or act as a repository of ideas. Cards can be moved across lists as tasks go from start to finish, so its fast, flexible, and even fun to use. You can organise your projects into columns and cards that are easy to drag around, add supporting details to, comment on, and assign from person to person on your team. What’s not to love?

If you are working within a team and want a central repository, then you can still use Trello. It allows 10 people to work on a board for free. You can also use the team feature to organise your boards. If your team is greater than 10, or you want to use some of the additional functionality that Trello offers, then you can pay to transfer to business class. You can then create collections to further organise you projects

If you need to keep up to date with the progress of a particular board, but don’t actually have any tasks within that board, then you can ‘watch’ the board. This means that each time the board is updated you will be notified. This can be useful if you are the manager of the team, or if you have a task that is dependent on that project being finished.

Trello knows that it can’t be all things to all people, so what it has done is has created alliances with other apps, so that they can integrate to give you a better experience. These are called Powerups. 

Useful powerups include using the calendar option so that you can make sure you have smoothed out the tasks, rather than have them all finish on the same date, creating a new Google Doc in Google Drive directly from trello, organising visual assets in one location within Dropbox, sending cards to slack teams getting feedback etc. And as I mentioned earlier, you can also use the Zapier and IFTTT. So you choose the powerup that you find the most useful.

Each board has 1 powerup allowance, so rather than having to decide on the 1 powerup which will help you across all of your boards, you can choose the most relevant integration for each one.

Rather than starting from scratch, Trello also offers a number of public templates that anyone can use to start a project and adapt to their individual needs. This is great, as sometimes you know you need to start, but you really don’t know exactly where.

Trello offers templates under various headings and they are easily searchable using their inspirations section. Once you have found the one that you want, you sign into Trello and then copy the board into your personal boards. You can then adapt as needed.

Costs

The basic tool is free and you can have up to 10 people on your team, all being able to access the same project(s). If you have over 10 people, or want to integrate with more than just Box, Google Drive, and Dropbox, along with a number of other features, then you will have to pay $9.99 per user per calendar month, and even more if you a large organisation and you want to customise your experience, so unless you are happy with the features available on the free tool, depending on the number of people on your team, you may want to look at other tools, which charge a flat fee  and could be more cost effective in the long run. But if you like the features that Trello offers, it’s a great, easy to use tool, which could help you successfully launch your new product or service.

Strengths

  • Easy to change your preferred language within your account.
  • In program help with a good search bar and articles separated into lists relevant to where you are on the journey
  • Good navigation to relevant sections of the tool, with easy drag & drop functionality to organise your project
  • A great visual tool, where you can easily see an overview of your project activities and easily change due dates on tasks if you need to
  • Integrates with Toggl, Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox, Mailchimp and Twitter amongst other things
  • Ability to add a checklist and create labels to filter different types of tasks
  • You can have up to 10 members collaborating on a project on the free version of Trello

Weaknesses

  • No real reporting tools.
  • Only 1 powerup per board on the free version

  • You can’t bill from Trello, so need to manually monitor time, through Toggl or other time-tracking tools

  • You can’t add a critical path to your project, so if you have something where everything will fail if that task isn’t completed, then you will need to use labels and create reminders.

  • Although you can view your tasks on a calendar, and therefore could create a weekly ToDo list, this isn’t any different than using Google or ICalendar.

So as you can see Trello is a brilliant organisation tool, that can be used right at the start of your business, and even when you start to grow you may find that you want to continue to use Trello, and of course you can. Trello can scale up with you 

If you’d like some help creating your first (or tenth) Trello board, then book a call now!

 

If you’d like more information on Trello pricing or the amazing templates that Trello provide, please see these blog posts from Trello

and no, I’m not an affiliate smile

Trello Pricing

Trello Templates