Great Trello project management: 6 hacks, tips and more
WHAT IS TRELLO GOOD FOR? READ HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT.
October 12, 2020
Here we’ve put together our ultimate guide to Trello project management. With such a diverse, dispersed community, we use Trello to synchronise our workflows. A hugely capable project management app, it breaks down complex processes into trackable actions, connects team members and lets them share their perspectives.
If all that sounds a bit earnest, Trello makes organisation fun. As a digital whiteboard, it lets you manage and gain real overview. It makes work satisfying without distracting from ongoing tasks. What’s more, with Trello it’s easy to engage your team. You’ll all enjoy being part of the process as much as finishing the task.
Where Trello comes from
The concept behind Trello was developed by Toyota in the 1950s. Also known as the ‘Kanban board’, it’s an agile tool that visualises tasks by using columns and cards that can be changed, paused and picked up again, depending on priorities.
The Kanban board is a specific way to look at the production cycle. The goal is to give your product time to develop and to fully embrace the production team. The focus is on the ongoing work, not the result, trusting that the right process will lead to the right product.
This way of working together keeps the hierarchy flat because the team mostly manages itself. Trello picks you up right there: the app not only keeps work flowing but sparks creativity through its options for tight-knit collaboration.
How Trello works
OK, down to the detail.
Trello communicates visually the different stages of work in progress. It does so by dividing the workflow into three steps: ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, ‘Done’ and presents these as individual boards. By looking at the boards you can tell which tasks are being worked on, who is working on them and, vitally, where work is ongoing or finished.
The ‘To Do’ board is probably the most critical. Here you’ll find task cards queued up according to importance, though priorities usually shift as work progresses. Each card has a title that refers to its content plus a short description. It also shows how it links to previous tasks. The card has an individual code, which references a Gantt chart that gives a time estimate for the whole task and how it connects to other tasks.
Hacks and tips to make Trello fly
Hack 1: Save time – copy boards
Sometimes you have to create boards for a project similar to a previous one. When you copy a board, only cards and their descriptions are cloned, not activities and comments, so you start with a clean slate.
Tip: once a team picks up a card, it moves to the ‘Doing’ board. While working on the task, you can keep team members in the loop. The card is where everyone involved continuously documents their work, leaves comments, questions and links to files.
Hack 2: Add multiple Trello cards in a few clicks
It’s easy to create any number of cards from bullet points in an existing document or Excel sheet. Simply open a new Trello card, make a right mouse click, select Paste and click ‘Add card’. Then just select the ‘Create # Cards’ from the pop-up window.
Tip: any line you copy from your document or sheet will turn into a Trello card.
Hack 3: Create a project overview, quick
This is Hack 2 in reverse. For an overview of your project status, it sometimes helps to turn the board into a list. With Trello you don’t have to transfer information manually from the project board – just export it to an Excel sheet.
Tip: if you don’t have the paid-for Trello version there’s an extra hack to use this feature: get the Export for Trello Chrome extension.
Remember: the card is a ‘transitional document’. It is task description, data management, briefing system and activity record in one. With it, anyone can see:
- What’s happened during the lifetime of the card
- Who worked on it and for how long
- The key decisions made
- What’s still being discussed
- Where to find relevant documents and links
Hack 4: Change the view
Too many cards? Switch from vertical to horizontal orientation or to calendar view and back at any time. The vertical view gives a list layout that can restore your overview.
Hack 5: Make Trello yours with power-ups and applets
Trello power-ups and applets help you customise the app to make it extremely efficient and easy on the eye. The FlexyTrello Chrome extension, for instance, lets you change the size of your lists, collapse and expand them.
Tip: The app provides an almost physical experience, as if you were moving Post-It notes on a whiteboard. But it’s more than that: each note can contain photos, files, links and additional checklists.
Hack 6: Be more efficient with Trello keyboard shortcuts
Want to be a whizz with Trello? There’s a variety of Trello keyboard shortcuts that’ll save you time..
Trello Slack integration: on the cards
If you already use Slack for community messaging, you can add Trello as an app and benefit from all its important features to make your workflow agile.
Trello Slack integration allows you to:
- Add Trello cards to Trello boards from Slack
- Join Trello cards and boards directly and take part in the conversation
- Invite other Slack users to peek at Trello cards and boards, giving them information about team members, descriptions and comments
- Give Slack team members access to your Trello team and boards
Transparent Trello reporting
The Trello reporting system enables team members and project managers to track time spent with the card, with details such as the task and who is in charge of it.
If a card is ‘aging’ (neatly visualised as slowly disintegrating paper), participants can be alerted to a potential problem and ask the owner for the card’s status. If necessary it can then be reinserted into the workflow.
Top of the tree for admin
As we can see with Trello project management, technology is transforming the workplace and, in turn, the role of admin. New apps and software are becoming available but sometimes staying on top of them can be tricky. As project-based work increases, so does demand for flexible project admin capability, effective data management and robust systems. Using the best (and often latest) software can make businesses exceptionally efficient. When it comes to project management, Trello is in the coveted ‘best of breed’ category.
Hoxby has admin wrapped up, too
Hoxby Admin can deliver a bespoke team for specific projects as well as structured, full-service admin support that integrates seamlessly with your business. Not only do we use technology like Trello to speed up the process, but can access specialist expertise for each task and have extensive experience of fully remote, digitally enabled working.
Find out more
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to to discuss how we can help your organisation with project and data management.
Lisa Andergassen is an academic researcher, translator and copywriter and part of the Hoxby community.