Most of us remember using note cards when we had to do research for a paper. Actually, they were a pretty good way to organize the information we were pulling from a bunch of different sources. We could then organize them into categories and from there make an outline for our papers. We also put speeches we had to make in class on notecards, and many adults who grew up doing this still do.
The great thing about cards is that they break down lots of information into smaller chunks so that it becomes manageable. That’s the idea behind taking notes for research papers and it was the idea of an early app for the Apple Macintosh called HyperCard. People could use it to make notes for a presentation or to make address books.
This is the idea behind Trello – it’s basically a tool for organization based upon that traditional card system. While people initially began to use it for organizing their personal tasks and “to-do” lists, it is now becoming popular for business use, especially project management when teams are involved.
The idea of the Trello card is that it has two sides. On the front side is a note that is more general. Then, if you tap or click on that, the card flips over with the details that relate to that general term or task. So, the front of the card might have the title of a project, let’s say, content marketing for May. The back of the card might then have a listing of content tasks and who is responsible for each one and publishing dates. Attachments and visuals can be added too. And everyone working on these tasks are called “members.” It’s easy to think of a card as a “hub” and the tasks/information/assignments on the other side as the spokes of that wheel.
It Gets More Complex
Just as projects are often complex, Trello is too. A project, for example, may have many large objectives. Each of those objectives is on one card, and all of the cards together are then placed on a “bulletin board.”
So, if a team is going to be responsible for re-designing a company website, for example, there may be several major parts of that project – for example, ideas, assignments of tasks, and the completed tasks. Everyone on the team has access to the cards on the board, and they can add information or check off their tasks as completed, comment on the tasks of others, etc.
There are some additional tools too. For example, as the tasks on a card are completed, a progress meter will provide a running notation of the percentage of the task that has been completed.
This much of Trello is free.
As with most tools and apps, there are upgrades. A business can upgrade to Trello Gold and get more features – the ability to add attachments up to 250 megabytes, for example. (Only 10 megabytes with the free version). The premier version, called “Trello Business Class” has an annual fee per user, but added features such as more privacy and security make it valuable for certain organizations. And, administrators of each project can determine who may or may not have access to cards or boards or who may create them in the first place.
Additional upgrades include compatibility with other more comprehensive project management software and tools.
If organizations are used to project management by meetings, emails, and spread sheets, Trello will take some getting used to. And if people are used to cloud-based project management tools when team members are working remotely or not all in the same place, switching to Trello will have its challenges. There is definitely a learning curve and a required mental shift. Further, anyone who makes a career change and joins a team using Trello will have to undergo some “basic boot camp” before being ready to become a “member.”
Is Trello for Your Team?
That’s really hard to say unless you give it a try. One suggestion for career pros and team leaders is to try it personally first. Because Trello is also a great tool for organizing one’s personal life too, try personal to-do lists or organizing long-term projects around the house. Use it to plan major social events.
You can also set up a Trello project that you are individually responsible for at work, just to get a “feel” for how it operates. Once you learn all of the ins and outs, you can introduce a larger project for your team.
Visit the Trello Blog
The Trello blog has lots of ideas for its use – you might want to read through some of these as you decide on projects which might be adaptable to this format.
Let’s suppose you are looking for a career change. You can set up an RSS feed to conduct a job search based upon salary, location, etc. (using something like Zapier, for instance), and then link that to your personal Trello board. Use the board to sort out those that are of interest.
Until you really dig into Trello, you will not know if it is a good fit for you, but you really have nothing to lose. It may be the perfect solution for at least some of your business projects.
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