For a while now, I have been interested in the idea of using an online project management tool with the people I work collaboratively with.
The opportunity came along when someone introduced me to Trello.
I’ve not tried out any other project management tools, so I am not basing my comments on any kind of objective comparison with similar programs. I am sure there are many, and probably better, ones out there, but I just love Trello!
Trello is a free, web-based application which syncs instantly when you work on it using the apps on your tablet or smart phone.
What I like the most is the visual nature of the way it displays the various projects and tasks.
It organizes your projects around ‘boards’. Within the boards you can create lists, to which you can add cards (for tasks). Once you have created a card, you can add descriptions, checklists, files, links, labels, due dates and comments (which are tracked over time).
It’s easy to add members to a board and assign yourself or others to tasks. You can opt to have notifications each time there is some activity on a board, list or card.
You can move cards around the board by dragging them from one list to another, and can copy cards and lists from one board to another. Cards are easily located and sorted with search and filter functions.
Two things it lacks that I have so far observed is the capacity for a timeline, and the ability to use it offline.
I am currently using Trello with two different teams I work with, as well as for my own individual projects.
For example, we are using it to manage collection development activities by tracking each new resource through the acquisition cycle from an initial vendor offer, through the evaluation and trial process, and finally to the purchase decision.
Some of the benefits I have found so far are:
- by removing bigger projects from my everyday ‘to do’ list I am able to separate operational and ‘one off’ tasks with tasks associated with bigger projects, which helps my focus and productivity
- it does away with the dilemma of wondering whether to email the whole team with a piece of information, and reduces the amount of emails sent between team members
- it has enhanced the level of communication and accountability between team members and has increased clarity about responsibilities, due dates etc
There are a couple of things that have contributed to the success of using Trello collaboratively.
- everyone on the teams have been willing to get on ‘board’ (excuse the pun) and make the change from our old ways of doing things
- we have invested time to work out some basic principles or guidelines on how to use and manage the boards as a team
- not being in too much of a rush but rather starting small, trying things out, letting the ideas about how it can work well develop slowly and organically
It’s still early days using Trello, but already it is having a positive impact on the teams I am part of.
I’d be interested to hear others’ experiences of using project or task management tools.