Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Trello

Screenshot of the Trello web site

Seeing as the house move is turning into a bigger project than anticipated, I decided to sign up to Trello(referral link) to manage all of the different tasks that needed doing.

Trello, as well as sounding like something that one of the minions would say, is an online project management and collaboration tool. Essentially it allows you to track the progress of projects, and allow multiple users to update progress, make comments and organise tasks. It’s a cloud app in the same vein as services like Salesforce.

Trello works on the basis of boards, lists and cards. The board can be for the whole project, or part of one, and then you can create lists on that board. Tasks are then inserted into the relevant list. In the screenshot above, the house move as a whole is a board, and then I have lists separating the tasks that have been done, are in progress, still to-do or on a wishlist to do in future.

Tasks can be dragged and dropped between lists, and can be assigned coloured tags – I’ve used a different-coloured tag for each room. Tasks can have a more detailed description attached, and can include checklists for sub-tasks. You can also add a due date for each task if you enable Trello’s Calendar power-up, which also adds a calendar view. This calendar can also be added to third-party calendar services like Sunrise. Another power-up enables voting – if you have multiple people working on the same board then you can ask people to vote on cards – perhaps to choose the best option for going forward, or to decide which task is the most urgent.

Because it’s a collaboration tool, every change is logged, so you can see who made what changes. If you’re managing a lot of boards, you can subscribe to individual tasks to get updates on any changes to them. And when a task is complete, it can be archived, so that it’s out of view, but still retrievable if needed.

Trello differs from other project management tools by not having task dependencies so you can’t set a card to depend on the completion of another. For this reason, there isn’t any way of viewing your project as a Gantt chart. Some traditionalist project managers may find this unsettling but it keeps Trello simple and discourages overly complex projects.

Like many other cloud-based services, Trello works on a freemium model. For home users, Trello Gold costs $5 per month, or $45 per year (giving you 3 months free). There’s also a business class service, payable on a per-user, per-month basis. Like with Dropbox, there are incentives for recommending Trello to people, so if you click on my referral link and sign up, I’ll get a month of Trello Gold for free.

Trello is web based but there are apps available on iOS and Android, which work in much the same way. There’s also IFTTT integration – you could have an external event trigger that creates a new card, or have something happen whenever you’re assigned to a card or when a new card is added to a board.

On the one hand, I expected Trello to be a fully-featured project management tool; but whilst it lacks a couple of advanced features, it’s quite simple and straightforward to use. I was able to get up and running within just a few minutes, and it’s been great to get our plans out of our brains and into something more structured.

One Comment

  1. We just started using Trello at work and I really like it so far.