As we’ve taken on increasingly complex website development projects over the past year, our existing workflows were hitting their limit and we needed to figure out a new way to handle task management for website development. That’s when we started using Trello as a SCRUM board tool to help us stay organized and efficient. Here’s what we’ve learned from the experience.
Before Trello, we were using Google Sheets and lists were getting too complex both for the project managers that were putting them together and for the developers that were working off them.
Here are some of the needs that weren’t being met:
- Flexibility to re-organize tasks constantly as project priorities changed
- Timestamps on when tasks are added, edited, or closed out
- Due dates for tasks, with optional notifications to task owner and task reporter
- Comment threads on tasks, that can provide further direction
- Ability to attach or relate documents, pictures, and links to a task
- Different groupings of tasks for a project, that can be different from project to project
- Ability to easily move a task from one grouping to another
We weren’t ready to invest in a dedicated enterprise ticketing system like JIRA, because that solution was too big for us. Trello seemed like the right size solution that was light enough to fit our rapidly evolving workflow but robust enough to handle all of the needs above.
The visual components of Trello easily handle the mundane, but very important details: When was this worked on last? Who is working on it? Are there any important details missing? We organize our project Trello boards with sections for “Basic Client Info”, “To Dos”, “In Progress”, “Next in Line”, “Waiting on Client”, and “Done”, and cards could easily be moved from one category to another as progress was made.
To make sure everyone knows what the expectations are, we keep a running document with the rules and guidelines for the Trello boards. For instance, developers who have a task “In Progress” know not to move on to other tasks until that particular task is completed and moved to “Ready for Review”, or until an obstacle comes up that requires the task to be moved to “Waiting on Client”.
Unlike Google Sheets, Trello enables us to add screenshots and links when applicable, which can communicate what needs to be done more effectively than trying to describe it in words. Clear, concise explanations and including a lot of detail on each task enable us to spend less time in meetings and more time getting things done.
The bottom line is that project managers have less to do when details are made clear to the owners of each task, enabling these owners to take responsibility and be accountable. Clear task ownership has proven to be crucial. A board can quickly become overwhelming if you create too many cards and don’t have an owner for each card.
Trello has allowed us to have multiple projects and maintenance tasks open at once, with multiple developers working on different cards. It also allows us to pick up a project, move it forward a bit, put it down, wait for a response, have another team member work on it, pick it up again, all the while we can easily peek at the board to stay current on what needs to get done.
In all, we consider our move to Trello a success. Do you have experience with using Trello for project management? If so, drop us a line and let us know how it’s going!