Trello Project Management Review

Trello Review
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  • Features
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  • Support
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Pros

  • Free version has a good number of features
  • User interface is easy to understand and navigate
  • Workflow automation helps save a lot of time

Cons

  • Cannot share cards across different boards
  • Lists do not sort automatically
  • No reporting tools built-in

ABOUT

Tools to improve productivity have been around for a long time. Calendars, personal diaries, and planners kick-started this trend, which eventually got phased out by their software counterparts. Today, we live in an era where it is almost impossible to imagine a productive day in the office without your official calendar reminding you where you need to be. As a result, project management tools have become increasingly popular among management professionals.

Atlassian’s Trello is one such project management tool. It is a Kanban-style board that lets you visualize your organization’s workflow. It gives you at-a-glance insight into various bottlenecks and minimizes the time spent in wondering where delays occur. Drawing from Toyota’s revered ‘just-in-time’ philosophy, a Kanban board increases efficiency by doing just what you need to do and nothing more. As a task proceeds between columns, you can track the flow and rest easy knowing that everything is under control. In case anything gets held up, you will know exactly where to plug the leak.

In this article, I take a look at this popular software. It’s USP is the fact that it is free for the most part. I deep-dive into its various features, automation capabilities, integrations, and, most importantly, give you an idea of whether or not this product will work for you.

PRICING

The software follows a ‘freemium’ pricing strategy. For most users, the free version is sufficient to get the job done. However, if you’re looking for added functionality, Trello has you covered. Below are the three pricing tiers:

Plans

Free

Business Class

Enterprise

Cost/mo

$0

$9.99/user

$20.83/user*

No limit on the number of personal boards

YES

YES

YES

Unlimited cards

YES

YES

YES

File attachment limit

10MB

250MB

250MB

Number of team boards

10

Unlimited

Unlimited

Number of power-ups per board

1

Unlimited

Unlimited

Automation level

Simple, personal

Powerful, team-wide

Advanced, company-wide

Command limitation

Limited to 1 each for card button, board button, and rule

Unlimited

Unlimited

Number of command runs per month

50

Nearly 2000 combined command runs

Unlimited

Two-factor authentication

YES

YES

YES

Priority support

YES

YES

Observers feature

YES

YES

Custom backgrounds and stickers

YES

YES

Board collections

YES

YES

Templates that can be used for team boards

YES

YES

Custom fields

YES

YES

List limits

YES

YES

Card repeater

YES

YES

Calendar view

YES

YES

Map view

YES

YES

Voting

YES

YES

Integration options

YES

YES

Scheduled commands

YES

YES

Command administration

YES

YES

Email notifications

YES

YES

HTTP requests

YES

YES

Granular admin permission control

YES

YES

Selective invites based on domains

YES

YES

Deactivate members

YES

YES

Easy sign-on to Google Apps

YES

YES

Ability to export all data

YES

YES

SSO is available for accounts having SAML IdPs

YES

Selectively allow/disallow power-ups

YES

Attachment restrictions

YES

Organization-wide permissions

YES

Organization-visible boards

YES

Control visibility of public boards

YES

*The price mentioned is for a maximum of 20 users. The number of users can go up to 5000, at which point, the price/user/mo becomes $5.92. For organizations exceeding 5000 users, you can visit their website.

FEATURES​

Board Level

Trello Home

This feature is available on the home screen of your Trello account. It is a newsfeed of sorts that gives you information at a glance. It compiles all relevant data from all boards that you own or are a part of and displays it in one place. If you are a Facebook user, you will be at home with the overall aesthetic of Trello Home. It shows your upcoming deadlines across all boards that you’re a part of, along with highlights from other boards, which helps to keep you on top of all that is happening, all from one place.

Description, Background, And Stickers

When you create a board, you have the option to set a background for it, either as an image or a solid color. The paid version will let you choose custom images to set as your background, but this does not change the functionality of the board in any way and adds to the aesthetic appeal. The description of a board is pretty self-explanatory. It gives you, and the others on the board, an idea of what exactly the board is about. Stickers can be used to tag particular cards on the board to draw more attention to them. Again, they do not change the functionality of the board in any way, but it helps draw eyes to more pressing matters. It is powered by GIPHY so you can get a whole host of stickers based on your use case.

Email-to-Board

Trello lets you add cards to your board via email. The title of the card is the subject of the email, and the description goes in the body. You can add other details by following the formatting tips, as suggested by Trello, which is particularly useful if you are not in a position to access Trello’s desktop or mobile apps. You can keep your boards updated and check on them later in the day. As the owner of a board, you can choose the list to which these cards should go. While it is recommended not to share the board’s email ID with others, it can help streamline workflow if used judiciously.

Activity Monitor

Within a board, you will have multiple people adding and moving cards as and when work gets done. As the owner of the board, you might want to get into who did what and when. Trello lets you monitor the activity of the entire board from one place. Here, you’ll get to know the exact timeline of events, along with the member who performed the particular activity. This is not a very flashy feature, but it can go a long way in easing your administrative workflow.

List Actions

On a list-level, there aren’t a whole lot of features. For the most part, they can be called “actions” that help you navigate and manage lists in a more organized fashion. Here, I’ll be taking a look at the available list actions that can help you get a feel for how lists work:

  • Add Card: This lets you add a card to the list.
  • Copy List: Copy cards in the list to place it elsewhere on the board or any other board.
  • Move List: Move the list to wherever you want it to go.
  • Subscribe: This lets you get notifications whenever something happens on that particular list.
  • Move All Cards in This List: Keep the list and move just the cards to wherever you want them to go.
  • Archive All Cards in This List: Keep the list and archive all the cards on the list.
  • Archive This List: This lets you archive the lists and dig them out in the future.
  • Set Limits for this List: This feature can be enabled by using Trello’s browser extension. It lets you dictate a hard cap on the number of cards that can be on the list. This feature is particularly useful in identifying potential bottlenecks.

Card Level

Members

Once you are done adding people to the board, you can add members to each card. This can be based on the work allotted to them, the work they need to supervise, or any other criteria that suits your workflow. Once added, these members get notified of any activity and can make changes to the card too.

Checklist

Trello gives you the option to add a checklist in every card, which further breaks down the work at hand and gives the members a clear direction. It also provides a progress bar to indicate the progress made in the checklist.

Due Date

As the name suggests, this feature lets you assign a due date to each card. While this can well be done in the description itself, having this as a separate feature comes with its perks. Firstly, the member(s) on the card get notified as the due date approaches. Secondly, as you’ll see later, you can use this feature to automate many facets of your workflow. This makes it a small but powerful tool in this software.

Labels

This feature lets you take your Trello cards up a notch. You can assign custom labels to each card based on your requirements, which will help you identify various aspects of the workflow without having to click each card. The color-coding dramatically improves overall efficiency and makes the entire board cleaner.

Attachment

As an organization, you will deal with a variety of files in your work. Trello lets you attach these files to specific cards and have all the information available from a single place. This way, each card can give you a comprehensive idea of what that work entails. Furthermore, this can prevent any loss of information when the work gets handed between people or teams. The software gives you an array of cloud storage apps to retrieve your files from, along with the files stored locally on your computer.

Workflow Automation – Butler

Butler is a powerful tool that significantly enhances your Trello experience. It brings in automation and insights based on how you use the software. At the surface-level, Butler lets you create rules, buttons, and scheduled commands based on the criteria of your choosing. In many aspects, this is analogous to macros that help reduce mouse and keyboard clicks.

Butler lets you perform five main commands:

  • Card buttons
  • Board buttons
  • Rules
  • Scheduled commands
  • Due date commands

The Command Builder is where you’ll instruct Butler. From there on, it is just a matter of chaining together relevant actions to get what you want. Do note that there is a limitation on the number of commands you can run on a per-month basis. The paid version comes with a higher number of command runs per month.

INTEGRATIONS

Trello gives you the ability to integrate with many business apps. Rightly named Power-ups, these integrations help you boost your productivity and ease your workflow. The software offers integrations in the following domains:

  • Analytics and Reporting
  • Automation
  • Board Utilities
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Developer Tools
  • File Management
  • HR and Operations
  • IT and Project Management
  • Marketing and Social Media
  • Product and Design
  • Sales and Support

Most notably, it connects with Zapier, which adds another layer of automation. You can connect Trello with the ‘Zaps’ in your Zapier account to augment your Trello-ing experience.

More About Trello Project Management

Setup And Ease Of Use

Setting up Trello is a very intuitive process. After logging in to the app, you can get started by creating a new board. Here, you have the option to make the board public or private, while also having the option of choosing from multiple templates. After selecting a background image/color of your preference, you can get started. The next step in the setup process is to define your workflow in the form of lists, which is particularly useful to get an overall idea of how work should flow from end-to-end. Finally, you can add people to the board based on your requirements. From here on out, they will be an integral part of your workflow and Trello experience.

Using the software is even more intuitive. You can add cards to each list to denote the pending work. The cards themselves have a lot of features and quirks that greatly enhance your experience. You can make them as detailed or as minimalist as you want it to be. Add the required people to the card, set a due date, and watch the magic unfold. You can drag-and-drop the cards for an authentic Kanban-style experience. Lastly, the use of custom commands and workflow automation makes life that much easier.

Device Compatibility

Desktop Browser App

Android App

iOS App

Windows Phone App

Apple Watch App

X

X

Trello lets you remain in-sync no matter where you might be. Aside from their web-based platform, they also have downloadable desktop applications for Windows and macOS. Additionally, they have fully-functioning mobile apps on Android and iOS. The functionality remains largely consistent between the desktop and mobile applications, which helps you get work done seamlessly.

Customer Support

The software offers customer support at varying levels. First and foremost, the Trello Help center has tutorials that cover pretty much every facet of the software. You can use this resource bank to help you answer the most common questions. A simple search on YouTube will take you to Trello’s official channel. There you can see multiple videos covering the ins and outs of the software. Lastly, they also offer ticket-based support and support via phone calls. In case you run into a unique roadblock, they’ll be sure to help you out.

Online Security

Trello is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. They are world leaders in providing cloud computing solutions for businesses. The software also uses the industry-standard TLS to create a secure connection for data in transit. It uses 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard encryption. Furthermore, the software also uses Akamai for DDoS protection and other network security purposes. To sum up, the folks over at Trello care about your data and ensure that it genuinely remains your data.

PROS AND CONS

PROS

  • Free version has a good number of features
  • User interface is easy to understand and navigate
  • Workflow automation helps save a lot of time
  • Each card has a high level of customizability
  • Has an API to expand the capability
  • Calendar view helps keep time in mind

CONS

  • Cannot share cards across different boards
  • Lists do not sort automatically
  • No reporting tools built-in

CONCLUSION

Trello is undoubtedly a straightforward way to get organized. Regardless of whether it is at work or home, the flexibility that the software provides is truly unmatched. The feature-set is fleshed out and offers a lot to the users. The freemium model is near-perfect for freelancers and small business owners. It can greatly improve productivity while not eating into profits.

However, there is no such thing as a perfect product. Trello does come with its share of shortcomings, albeit not dealbreakers. The lack of built-in reporting tools can be a potential issue for some professionals. It would’ve helped to have some basic form of reporting. Also, one has to keep sorting the cards in each list, manually. This is nitpicking in some sense, but it becomes an inconvenience when it has to be done repeatedly.

In summary, the folks over at Atlassian have put together a remarkable software. The Kanban-style boards are a sure-shot productivity booster for someone looking to up their productivity. The fact that it’s pretty much free of cost further solidifies its case. I am a massive fan of the software, and I feel it deserves serious consideration.

Check out our list of the best Project Management Software companies

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