Trello – collaboration and more
Trello is a cross-platform tool that provides easy collaboration amongst teams and small groups. It has excellent collaboration features, with a clean and simple interface.
It has an expansive free-tier, which should be suitable for most small organisations.
Trello has a fully functional web interface as well as apps for most smartphones, Windows, and Mac.
You collaborate using the concepts of Teams. A single use can be a member of many teams, allowing for separation of different work and personal projects.
Within each Team, Trello uses the concept of a Board. Think of a Board as a placeholder for a particular project.
A Board consists of a collection of Lists. Lists can be used to capture different stages in your workflow, used to hold actions assigned to people, used to show tasks to be done on each day of the week, etc. The only real limit to Lists is your own requirements and imagination.
Within each List is a collection of Cards. The Cards are where the work happens.
Team collaboration is the biggest strength when using Trello. But not everyone needs to be able to collaborate on all items, Trello caters for this by allowing you to set the access levels for various Boards.
Teams are where the security model kicks off. You define a team and then invite your people to join. A person can be a member of a number of different teams.
One thing to note, I have found that you need to use the web-based interface in order to invite new members of a Team. A small, but annoying, issue if you normally access Trello from a smartphone or tablet.
When you create a new Board you are prompted to give the Board a name, select a background, and to select a Team for the board to belong to. Once created you can easily move a Board to another Team.
You also need to specify the Visibility of the Board, this controls who can see the Board and its contents. The default is that anyone in the team can see it, but you can change this if needed for your requirements.
Your Board is now ready to go, and you can start to create Lists.
Now is the time to start defining your lists. You start with a blank Board, and a prompt to create a new list.
It is worth spending some time to think about what you want for your Lists, although it is also easy to change them afterward.
For my example, I want to use this Board to hold details of tasks I have to do. So I need to have Lists to hold items that are new, those in progress, those waiting for something and the ones I have finished. I’ll set my Lists up as in the next picture.
Cards are where the work happens. Think about them as the task or action that needs to be completed.
For my example, each card will be used to represent a task that I need to perform.
To create a card simply press the “Add Card” button and enter the title for the Card. Remember to press return after entering the Card to commit its changes into Trello.
The following diagram shows some Cards I have created.
Now we have the Cards we can start to look at their use. Below is a picture of one of our newly created Cards.
Here we can start to add comments about actions that we have taken, so we have a journal of activity on the Card.
We can invite other team members to join us and collaborate on the Card. The comments are extremely useful here so that we reduce duplication of effort.
We can attach files to the Card, including links to Cloud storage providers, giving easy access to any related files, and reducing the time needed to go and find them when subsequently working on the Card.
You can set a Due Date for the Card, giving a way to ensure deadlines are met.
Add in a Checklist so you can keep track of specific steps that need to be undertaken.
A number of other actions can be taken which I will not go into here, as their descriptions are self-evident.
Trello also allows you to extend the functionality of the Cards. This is done through the use of “Power-Ups”.
The free tier limits you to one Power-Up per Board. Additional Power-ups are available on the paid tiers.
Power-Ups are a mix of free, and paid for, services. They allow you to tap into external services to expand the capabilities of Trello. Power-Ups are applied to the entire Board, and each Board may have different Power-Ups attached to them.
The list of Power-Ups available can be found at Trello Power-Ups
For my example, I am going to include the Box Cloud Provider as a Power-Up.
Here we can now see a new entry on the right-hand side “Power-Ups”, and under that a button for Box. Clicking that takes you to a file selector so you can find the files you wish to attach.
Once attached the files appear in the Attachments area where they are available to all members of the Card.
As of writing, Trello offers a fully functional free tier, which should be sufficient for most small teams. The paid tiers extend the power and usability of the tool for your team.
Trello is a good place to start for basic project management, task management, and life management.
The use of Power-Ups drives its capabilities and pushes the collaboration model.
For most small organistions or groups the free tier offers the majority of the functionality you will need. For greater functionality, multiple Power-Ups can drive your productivity and collaboration through the ceiling.
Trello is rapidly becoming a tool I use every day. Its a quite common thing to hear me now reply to people “Put it in Trello”
In this post, I have only lightly touched on the uses and functionality of Trello. The best way to explore its power is to sign up for the free tier and start exploring.