Are you in a role where you’re juggling multiple complex projects? You’re likely looking for a way to manage all the moving parts and bring clarity to the chaos. In this scenario, Trello project management software will be your best ally. Whether you’re managing project teams of five or 50, this powerful tool will help keep everyone on the same page. But, how do you bring out the best in your team while using this technology? We’ll show you how with this comprehensive guide to Trello.
Fueled by the widespread adoption of remote work, project management tools have become big business. According to data from Gartner, more than 85% of companies use project management apps, and the market is expected to skyrocket to US$7 million by 2026¹. Some common examples of these tools include Asana, ClickUp, Wrike, Monday.com and, of course, Trello.
With so many productivity and task management tools available, you might be wondering what makes Trello special. Here’s the lowdown.
Created in 2011, Trello is a project management and collaboration tool. The biggest thing that sets it apart from competitors is its user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface. A highly visual tool, Trello uses the kanban method to organize projects into boards based on their workflow stage. Think of it like a digitized version of arranging post-it notes on a whiteboard or wall. Within each project, you can create a ‘card’ for each individual task. Then, move it across the 'board' according to its status (‘upcoming’, ‘waiting’, or ‘in progress’, for example.)
Trello’s intuitive approach proved so effective that it was purchased by software giant Atlassian in 20172. Today, Trello boasts a powerful suite of features that enhances collaboration at every stage of the project lifecycle.
More than two million teams worldwide use Trello to manage their projects³. These range from sole traders and start-ups to Fortune 500 companies such as Google and Visa. While the kanban method first originated in software development⁴, Trello is also popular with marketing, sales, design, and HR teams⁵.
With so many impressive collaborative features, the better question might be – what can’t Trello do? Well, unfortunately, it can’t do your work for you! Trello also doesn’t have the power to ensure your team uses it as intended. As the age-old expression goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” If you’re looking to increase team adoption of Trello, Fingerprint For Success’ leadership development can help you unlock your inner leadership skills.
So, you’ve decided that Trello project management software is the right option for your team. Your next question is likely ‘how do you actually use it?’. One of the best things about Trello is how flexible and intuitive it is – it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, they have a great onboarding process to guide you through it.
However, there are certain strategies that will streamline your project management process. To help you kickstart your Trello journey with confidence, we’ve mapped out a simple, 7-step workflow for agile projects.
You can actually use Trello to facilitate your planning phase. Before you dive into any project, it’s crucial to outline what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it. At this stage, you could create a Trello board to establish the key goals, resources, task dependencies, and milestones of the project. You may choose to do this solo or share your project plans with key stakeholders only, before getting the rest of the team involved.
Example: Lucy is a marketing manager at an eCommerce company. She creates a Trello board for a key initiative coming up in Q4: influencer partnerships. She sets up columns for objectives, budget, team roles, and task dependencies and is able to easily show this to her department lead to achieve project buy-in.
Next, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of your project. You’ll want to create a board that captures everything that needs to happen to get your project out the door.
When you start a new board, you’ll notice there are three columns by default: ‘To do’, ‘doing’, and ‘done.’ Known as ‘lists,’ this is how tasks are grouped in Trello. These lists are a great place to start, but you may find you need more detailed labels for your statuses.
Example: Lucy knows there will be many stages of her influencer partnership initiative. So, she creates six columns on her board: ‘To be contacted’, ‘waiting for response’, ‘negotiation in process’, ‘partnership scheduled’, ‘coming up’, and ‘completed’.
The next step is to map out the tasks that need to be completed, and by which team members. This is achieved using ‘cards’ in Trello. For each task, you can create a card and give it a description. You can then navigate back in to add extra information (including relevant files) and assign it to a team member with a due date.
Example: Lucy has identified 10 influencers she would like to reach out to and her colleagues have agreed to divide and conquer. She adds each influencer's name as a card in the ‘to be contacted’ list, then assigns them to a team member.
To keep your project on track, it’s important to actively update your task statuses. You can do this by dragging and dropping your task cards under the relevant column. Depending on the structure and collaboration style of your team, you may choose to assign one person to update these (such as the project manager). Or, you can empower your team members to do it themselves. Not sure how your team works best together? Take the F4S assessment to get an in-depth look into your collaboration styles.
Example: Lucy’s team is made up of self-motivated individuals. So, they each agree to move the task cards from ‘to be contacted’ to ‘waiting for response’ once they have reached out to influencers.
Now it’s time for the satisfying part! Once your entire project is completed, you can archive boards. This is done by right-clicking the board title under ‘your boards’, selecting the three horizontal dots. Then, select 'close board' from the left-hand menu. This is a great way to keep your Trello workspace clear and uncluttered. Don’t worry, this isn’t the same as permanently deleting it. You'll still be able to access it in ‘your boards’ if you wish to revisit it.
Example: Lucy and the team have successfully run 8 of their 10 desired partnerships, so they close their board and crack open the champagne.
There's no need to reinvent the wheel every time you tackle a new project. If you know you’re going to run similar projects, it’s a good idea to save your board as a project template. This will save you time in the future, as you can easily replicate task cards from your template. You can do this by opening the pop-out menu on your board, selecting 'more', and finding ‘make template’. Please note, this is only available as a premium feature.
Example: The influencer partnership initiative was such a success that Lucy has decided to run it again in Q1. She saves her board as a template so she doesn't have to create a board from scratch next time.
The best task management apps aren’t designed to be used in a silo – but rather, in collaboration with your other tools. Connecting Trello to the software you already use can reduce admin headaches and ensure things don’t slip through the cracks.
For example, if you’re a sales professional, you might connect your Salesforce account to automatically update lead statuses. Or, you can connect your Google Workspace account to easily create Docs, Slides, Folders or Sheets from a Trello task. If you need something more custom, you can harness the features of hundreds of other tools inside Trello using Power-Ups.
Example: During the influencer partnership project, Lucy found that a couple of members occasionally forgot to update Trello. So, she connects Trello with Slack so that team members get daily prompts to update the status of tasks.
Now you know how to use Trello to plan and run company initiatives. However, an online project management tool is only as efficient as the team using it. One crucial detail many project managers overlook is how to leverage soft skills to lead teams to success.
Soft skills are the interpersonal traits that define how you relate, communicate, and work with others. Examples of these skills include communication, problem-solving, and strategic thinking. Essentially, they’re human skills.
While these qualities have historically played second fiddle to technical skills (especially in male-dominated industries)⁶, The Project Manager Institute (PMI) has redefined them as ‘power skills’⁷. PMI’s research shows that these qualities are among the most important qualities for project managers. In its Pulse of the Profession survey, 92% of respondents stated that these power skills help them work smarter as project managers. PMI states that when layered on top of solid technical skills, power skills make leaders more effective at inspiring teams to achieve organizational goals. This, in turn, allows them to provide more value to the company and its customers.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a psychologist to spot these nuances in your team’s communication and collaboration styles. Understanding and optimizing team dynamics is easy, thanks to the Fingerprint for Success revolutionary coaching platform. Based on more than two decades of motivational research, F4S equips you with data insights and personalized coaching to unlock your team’s full potential.
With F4S, you can:
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Our Team Affinities report reveals the common ground in your team, such as shared motivations that energize them. Meanwhile, the Power of Differences report captures potential sources of friction in the team.
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Having a base understanding of what makes people tick is essential for building high-performing teams. Just a few of the ways it can level up your team project management include:
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Armed with these insights, you will be able to put together more effective teams for your projects and achieve better outcomes with Trello. According to PMI, ineffective communication is one of the leading causes of project failure⁸. Furthermore, high-performing organizations (those that complete 80% of projects on time) tend to create more formal communication plans than their lower-performing counterparts.
By understanding the inner workings of your team, you’ll be able to achieve stakeholder alignment and potentially save thousands of hours and dollars.
Motivated by macro big picture thinking, these teammates value moving quickly to connect dots between abstract ideas to 'get the gist' of things.
These teammates value being concrete and specific, getting into details to understand the steps or tasks required.
One thing that makes Trello one of the most popular project management tools is its flexible prices. Whether you’re a start-up or a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, there are scalable options for every business size.
Like many task management apps, Trello charges a price per user. To help you compare the best annual price option for your needs, here are the features for each plan.
Key features include:
Best for: Individuals or very small teams looking to organize simple projects. For example, a freelancer collaborating with other creatives on client projects.
Key features include everything in Free, plus:
Best for: Small, remote teams. For example, small agency teams launching a campaign.
Key features include everything in Standard, plus:
Best for: Bigger teams that need a bird's-eye view across their projects. For example, a consulting firm.
Key features include everything in Premium, plus:
Best for: Large organizations with increased security needs. For example, a global corporation.
You may be wondering how Trello stacks up against other tools for project management. The good news is, there are plenty of great alternatives and you don’t necessarily have to pick one over the other. Here's what you need to know about some of the other popular project management tools.
Asana: If you prefer to-do list or calendar views or have lots of sub-tasks, Asana might be a good fit. Its time-tracking tools are also helpful for keeping meetings and projects on schedule.
Wrike: A good option for those running more complex projects, Wrike offers more extensive workflow management tools. The built-in GANTT chart is useful for mapping project timelines before you launch.
Airtable: For lovers of spreadsheets, Airtable can turn almost anything into a database and hold enormous amounts of data. This makes it great for anyone dealing with large files.
ProjectHuddle: Designed to allow creatives to easily collect client feedback on projects. You can pair it with Trello by turning each comment into a task card.
Zapier: This powerhouse automation tool allows you to connect Trello with more than 5000 different apps.
ClickUp: Perhaps the most similar to Trello, ClickUp features more ways to view projects and tasks (without upgrading to a paid plan). Offering unlimited users on their basic plan, it's a cost-effective option. However, its interface isn’t quite as intuitive.
Miro: Described as a digital whiteboard, Miro is a cloud-based, visual collaboration tool. Its charts and mindmapping tools are helpful for project ideation.
Monday.com: As an all-in-one project management software tool, Monday is like the jack of all trades. It’s packed with powerful features, but can be overwhelming for some.
Redbooth: Like Trello, Redbooth uses the kanban method. However, it has a more basic interface and relies more heavily on video conferencing for collaboration.
Trello is designed to complement your other tools, and task management apps are no exception. You may consider pairing it with these other apps, to build your perfect project management ‘stack.’
Trello can be used for project tracking in the design, planning, procurement, construction, and commissioning phases. For example, boards can be created for each project or for specific areas of a project such as electrical or plumbing. Lists can be used to track critical tasks related to site preparation, material selection, and permit approvals. Cards can be used to assign tasks to team members, track project schedules, and monitor progress.
This really comes down to personal preference. If you're a visual person, you'll likely enjoy the drag-and-drop functionality of Trello. However, if you're someone who likes to make simple lists, Asana may be more appealing. Asana also features plenty of in-built motivational nudges, such as a unicorn that pops up when you complete a task. It also allows you to track time. Digging into your team’s unique motivations can help you determine which task management software is the best fit.
Monday is perhaps the most robust project management tool on the market – it's packed to the brim with planning, timeline and collaboration tools. It's also highly customizable to your industry and team size. However, more is not always best. Monday has a steep learning curve and Trello's simpler interface may be a better fit for teams new to digital project collaboration.
Using project management software such as Trello can help you complete projects faster and more efficiently. However, at the end of the day, it's really down to company leaders to ensure their teams are set up to do their best work.
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