Here at XeoDev, we use a free tool called Trello for project management. Our goals for Trello are that anyone can add a task at any time in under 30 seconds and that anyone on the board can wake up at 3 am on a Tuesday and get a full status report of who is working what and what is left to do on the project. This has many time and effort benefits. There is no longer a need to write a Friday status report and email everyone. There is no need to handle the odd Thursday email requesting status. If you do, simply reply: ‘did you check Trello?’
Workflow is just the steps that each task goes through before it is completed and signed off. Our typical workflow contains these steps: ‘to do’, ‘in progress’, ‘feedback’, ‘review’, ‘push live’, ‘done’. So, we make one Trello board for the project and one stack for each step in the workflow and one card per task and assigned to one owner. Each stack has a natural owner. For example. ‘review’ is assigned to a tester. Once I work on my part of a card, I update the card with my progress, move it to the next stack and assign it to the next owner. When moving a card to the done stack, remove all members.
The stack ‘push live’ refers to a two-server hosting strategy where changes are first tested on a staging (or next) environment and approved before being pushed into the customer’s hands. These cards are double checked on the customer service during the deployment to limit the number of complaints received after the deployment.
Anyone can look and see how many cards are assigned to each individual and how many cards are at each stage of the workflow. Cards assigned to no one are going to be handled in the future and are not actively being worked on.
Trello offers both comments and checklists. Comments get hard to find over time as new comments come in. So, we capture the requirements in checklists. These checklists are written in the future expectation tense and a new checklist is added with today’s date if the card has already been through the in-progress stack. This way changes to the requirements are tracked and highly visible to all team members. There are inevitably some cards that just can’t go away. Cards like the ones that list the server logins, the test user accounts, the explanation of how to use vendors such as Stripe, CloudFlare, AWS, and so on. These are placed in a stack called sticky and assigned to everyone. Once I read the card, I remove myself, so you know I know the contents of that card.
TIP: Put URLs in the description, not the title. They aren’t clickable in the title and URLs aren’t usually a good title for a card. Try to include one URL per card to help others get right to where you see the issue. Make sure to write up some Trello training so your whole team is on the same page. Who is the Trello inspiration on your team? Is it you?
There are quite a few keyboard shortcuts but start with just the letter ‘q’ and the spacebar. ‘Q’ will filter only cards assigned to you. Spacebar will toggle the card being assigned to you. Trello is an excellent project management software and getting better every week with frequent new features.
Trello Board Example
Here is an example Trello board. Below you will see an image of a functioning board using workflow stacks. In the top image, you’ll see the planning side with the sticky stack, and the multiple in progress stacks one per team. In the bottom image, you’ll see the feedback and review stacks.
How do you use Trello? We’d love to hear from you. There is a longer version of this Trello blog up on the XeoDev blog page. Please reach out and let’s discuss Trello together.