Before you begin, click here to set up your own free Trello account. One of my passions is finding new and better ways to manage projects. I’ve told you about Teamwork Project Manager and Basecamp. Now I’ll show you another program called Trello. Everyone likes to manage projects in different ways. No one program can satisfy everyone’s preferences. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to Trello. Trello is an easy way to keep track of your projects and collaborate with your team. The interface is beautiful and simple. You just have to get your head around the basic structure. Once you’ve achieved that, you can customize it to your heart’s content. I reminds me of Evernote in a way. You start with a blank slate, and create whatever you want, and have it function the way you want.
Let’s get started. The first thing to do is to go to trello.com and download the app. It’s free, believe it or not. And, the really cool part is that it works and syncs across all your computers and devices, be they PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, or iPad. This is a huge advantage and frankly, it’s imperative these days. So get the app on your desktop and then download it on all your devices. Sign in and follow along. Note: This is the Desktop version. Mobile devices look distinctly different and the menus are sometimes different.
Once you’ve signed up for free membership in Trello you’ll be greeted by Taco, a famous Husky, on the Welcome Board.
This will show you a sample of a Board. A Board can be a project, or anything else you are working on. You can put almost anything on a Board.
Click on the + button and let’s add an Organization
You might make one that is your company name, A Better Remodeling Company [ARBC] ©, and one that is for your eyes only, e.g., Personal
Name the Organization
Description is optional, then click Create. You can continue to add more Organizations by clicking the + and choosing New Organization
Now click the + sign and choose New Board
Boards are places where you collect information, make checklists, assign tasks, track conversations, and set due dates. In this example, we are making Boards that are Projects that ARBC is building.
Click Boards after creating a Board,
On the screen you can see your Organizations and their boards. I’ve added a Board called Mansion Bathroom.
You can create more Boards by clicking “Create new board”
Click on the Mansion Bathroom Board and add a List
A new screen opens up when you click on a board. The waiting dialogue box asks you to Add a list… Create a new list. Think of these as Phases for your project. You can make them very general or very specific. My first phase is Design Phase. You can continue to add more lists here if you like.
On each List, you create Cards
You begin to see the structure now. Create an Organization, create a Board in that Organization, then make a List, and on the List create Cards. Cards are more detailed points of information – many times they are checklists and tasks. Click on the white space of the card (not the edit Pencil icon) and the following screen opens up. Click the white space on the front of the card to turn it over and look at the back side.
The name of the Card is “Measure the space”.
The back of a Card allows you to add and view more detailed information about the Card. In Comments, I’ve added a link to our measuring process to ensure the person measuring follows the appropriate steps. You can add Checklists to this card, assign Members to the task, change the color of the label (use this to visually group certain Cards), add a Due date, and attach a file. This is very versatile. You can also move the Card somewhere else, Copy it, Subscribe to it (receive notices by email), or Archive it.
Before adding due dates, you need to enable the Calendar
Click on “Show Menu” in the top right corner and you’ll see “Power-Ups”. Click this to open the three options under “Power-Ups”. Note: you need to actually click “Menu” for this menu to appear. The default view shows Members and recent Activities.
The 3 Power-Ups options
The calendar is cool enough, but the other options bear mentioning. Voting allows those who view a card and vote whether they like it or not. You can see if the card is popular and use the vote count to make better decisions. Card aging, when enabled, makes cards grow more and more transparent due to inactivity.
Click on Enable, and you’re all set.
Now you can look at activities by calendar view or a Board view. And go back and forth between the two views.
Click on Members to add members
It will search for people in Trello or you can invite someone by using their email address.
Click the Edit pencil
In an earlier step you clicked the white space and were presented with a screen (back of the Card) where you could put comments, add members, labels, checklists, etc. Clicking on the Edit Pencil gives you a different set of options.
Edit Pencil options
Clicking the Edit Pencil allows you to edit labels (colors), change members, move the card somewhere else, copy, change the due date, and archive it. Click Save when you are finished.
Setting a Due Date
As you can see, I’ve set a Due Date of June 1 for this task. The icon appears in the lower left corner of the card.
Whose responsible for doing this task?
Since you may have several Members with permission to see this card, one easy way to say who is responsible is to put their name in square brackets after the task verbiage. Click Save.
Click the white space…
This will bring you to the Card options on the back of the Card.
Let’s add a Checklist to this Card
Click Checklist in the right sidebar.
Fill in the Title of the Checklist
The Title in this case is Measurement checklist. Click Add to close the Add Checklist window.
The Measurement checklist is added to the card.
Now add all of the items you’d like to include in the Checklist. Note the gray bar above showing the percentage of completion. Click Add after each item, and a new Add an item… line will appear.
All the items are added to the Checklist
When done adding items, simply click outside the lightbox to see your lists again.
Under Activity you can see any recent activity on this card.
Click on a few of the items in the Checklist and you can see the percentage of completion.
Continue to add more Cards to the Design Phase List
Add as many Cards (tasks) to the list as you want. Click Add after each entry. Note the Checklist (2/3) and the Due Date in the 1st Card.
Add more Lists…
Add more Lists to the Mansion Bathroom Board. Click on Add a list… to the right of the Design Phase List. Note – you can rearrange any of the Lists by dragging and dropping them in the order you want.
New Lists added
I’ve added a Design Phase Done List and several others. The Done List is where I will drag Cards from the Design Phase list when they are completed. Use your imagination. You can do this however you want. Trello is made to customize. Note – the Checklist in the Measure the space Card has turned green. That means that 3 out of 3 items on the Checklist have been completed.
Drag the completed Card to the Design Phase Done List
Simply drag and drop the Card into any List. This is particularly useful in this case, since the Design Phase contains only items that are still incomplete.
Add some Due Dates
Add a Due Date to Hand-off to Production List > Prepare documents for PM Card.
Now look at your Calendar view
Click the Calendar button (Desktop version). You can see the Due Dates of two of your Cards. The cool thing here is that you can drag the item to a new date and it will change on the Card. Click the Calendar button to go back to the Board.
Additional information on the back of the Card
Note – Under Activity you can see who did what, i. e., Randall moved this card from Design Phase to Design Phase Done List, etc. Under the individual’s activity you can see when it was performed. You can also share a link to this Card’s backside by clicking the Share and more… button.
Click the Trello title to show all Boards and Organizations
Starring a Board
Hover over and click on the Star…
Now the Starred Board will be at the top of the list of Boards
Use this for active projects. You can have multiple Starred Boards.
Mansion Bathroom is at the top of the list.
This is my Personal Board
The Lists were in Default.
In the next part of the Trello Series…
I’ll show you an example of how to set up a useful Personal Board in the next part of the Trello series.