Starting Out with Project Management App Trello: How I Use It

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I’ve never tried project management apps before. I thought they were really aimed at businesses with a number of employees and for tracking activities assigned to staff, but I read a post on project management tools on Mashable recently, watched the video on Trello, and thought, hang on, this might just work for me.

In my day job, I’m a freelance editor/proofreader, I don’t have any employees and I don’t collaborate with anyone, but I do usually have a number of projects (papers to be edited) for clients on the go at the same time, all at various stages – from initially sending out a quote for editing right through to finally sending them an email thanking them for payment of my invoice. I used to go to my to-do app Wunderlist to remind me which client was at each stage of the process, to send them a quote, edit their file, send out an invoice, etc, but having to delete and retype client names as they moved from task to task was a bit of a nuisance. Much better if you could drag the client name from task to task as each was completed.

So I tried Trello and wasn’t disappointed as it could do just what I wanted. After you register and open Trello, you’ll find it’s divided into Boards, Lists and Cards. Each screen is a Board (or Project) and you can create new Boards. Boards can be public or private – a private board called Editing was enough for me initially. On each Board, you have Lists and you can add as many Lists as you like across the Board. I found Lists to be oddly named. Perhaps Activity might be more appropriate. For me, these were the various stages of the Project. On each List, you can have a number of Cards, for me these were clients, but everyone will have different cards in their projects depending on their line of work, for example Cards could be company employees, to-do items, or anything you’d like to track in a project. I won’t go into setting up Boards, Lists and Cards – it’s really quite intuitive. Here’s a typical example loosely based on my project:

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You can show/hide Lists on the left side by clicking the grey Trello logo to the left of Example (shown in the above screenshot), then click Layout, then click Show/Hide List Guide to toggle between the two. The List Guide is a collection of your list titles that appears on the left side of the board when the total number of Lists is greater than the board size. It helps with navigation by visualizing all available Lists when some Lists on the board are hidden.

When you click on each Card, you can add comments, checklists, due dates, and other features, but these three are the most useful to me.

And that’s about it. Just drag your Cards from List to List across the board as each activity is completed. The beauty of Trello is it’s great for visualizing tasks – I have an instant graphic of what stage each of my clients is at, from quote to be sent out through to invoice paid.

Drawbacks? Well there are a couple of minor niggles. It would be nice to view Comments on a card by just mousing over the comment box rather than having to click the Card.  And you can delete Cards, or close Boards, but you can’t delete Lists as yet, just archive them. Hopefully List deletion will come in a later version. There’s a Trello app for iOS but not Android as yet although the Trello web app will work on Android.

So, whether you are a manager assigning projects to staff, a scientist with different experiments at various stages, a PC repair tech working on PCs and laptops for customers, or indeed anyone trying to manage a project with a number of activities at different stages, give Trello a try and see what you think.

Do you use a project management app? Which one? How do you use it? Drop us a comment below.

One Response

  1. Jelle Says:

    If you are looking for other project management solutions you might find this list interesting. Project management apps ranked by worldwide popularity: http://www.appappeal.com/apps/project-management/

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