Power Arranger: Hello Trello!

Today, we’re going to say “Hello Trello!”.

Trello is a virtual shared whiteboard and post-it notes application that offers tools and functions to help you keep organized while also allowing teams to collaborate in fun and flexible ways.

It is a free online service found at http://trello.com/.

Ways to use Trello are infinite; the only limit is your imagination.  I have successfully used Trello for many projects including creating and managing critical paths, overall project management, creating and updating of run sheets, volunteer management, session schedule creation, and running the business, just to name a few ideas.  For the rest of this article, whenever I say “project”, I am referring to any one of these types of work.

Trello 101

Trello is all about capturing and organizing information and tasks related to a project.  It feels a lot like having a physical whiteboard with post-it notes stuck on it, and is probably just as flexible!

Trello has (3) main concepts – Boards, Lists and Cards

  • Board – A single board represents a single project, although you will have multiple boards for all your separate projects.  Think whiteboard.
  • List – A board contains multiple lists. Lists define a number of states relevant to your project. You can have as many lists as you would like in each board, and you can name them however you need.  Think vertical columns using blue tape.
  • Card – Lists will contain groups of cards that are related by the column name. A card is a single piece of information or idea, and you will have many cards for your individual project.  Think post-it notes.

To bring this to life, I have created a Power Arranger Trello account and have included examples of what Boards, Columns & Cards might look like.

Boards

You can have as many boards as you need.  Again, each board represents a single project and offers the same function as a physical whiteboard.

If another project starts, you can add an additional board simply by clicking the

“Create new board …” option and giving the new project a name.

Example:

Our Power Arranger currently has (5) projects to take care of:

  • Last year’s taxes
  • Reading Material to catch up on
  • Scheduling sessions for the Mighty Morphin Conference
  • Overall Critical Path for the MMC
  • Seating plan for Zordon’s Awards Dinner

 

Lists

Now that you have a board, you need some method of organising it.  A list is simply a container to hold your post it note cards. Your lists have headings to indicate what the lists mean, and these are completely customisable to your needs.

The nature of your project or event will dictate what lists you need. Because Trello is infinitely flexible, you can add new lists, rename lists, or simply remove un-needed lists at any time. Your board’s lists can change as your requirements change. You’re in control.  To create a list, simply click “Add a list” on the far right.

Using (2) of our Boards above as samples, below are examples of list titles which may be used in each scenario.

Example 1: Mighty Morphin Conference Critical Path

You might have “In Queue”, “Work In Progress”, Awaiting Responses” and “Complete” as list headings in the Mighty Morphin Conference Critical Path Board.

Example 2:  Zordon’s Awards Dinner

Each list heading could be each Table# and Name for the Zordon’s Awards Dinner Board.

 

Cards

Again, this is the equivalent of your individual post it notes. You use a new card for each discrete piece of work, information or action that needs to be taken. The simplest card you can create consists simply of a title, and often that is all you will need in order to be effective.

Using our same (2) boards scenarios from above, below are a few examples of cards.

Example 1: Mighty Morphin Conference Critical Path

Example 2:  Zordon’s Awards Dinner

Each card can also have the following:

  • A detailed description
  • A due date
  • An embedded checklist of additional to-do items
  • Attachments (such as images or documents)
  • Coloured labels (so you can visually organise your work)

In addition, as you collaborate:

  • You can assign cards to team members
  • Anyone can add comments to the cards to add new and insightful information as the projects progress

In Summary

Once you have your board set up, and you’ve added the lists you need to organise your information and the cards containing details, you are ready to collaborate.

You can add new cards to any of the lists in a board, at any time. You can drag the cards up and down the lists to set their order. Most importantly, you can drag the cards between lists – for example from the “In Queue” to the ‘”Work In Progress” list – to help your team understand your project status.

Head over to  http://trello.com/ and sign up for an account. Create a new board and experiment with adding columns and cards. You will see how easy and natural this is.

Tune In Next Time

In future Power Arranger blog posts, I will share more details of how I use Trello to solve specific challenges, and give you my favourite tips and tricks for getting the most out of your boards.

Before we get to more advanced Trello subjects, I’d like to introduce some other tools that complement Trello.  So, join me next time for “Slack Attack!”, an introduction to a team messaging application that will help streamline your day-to-day team communications.

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