“Productivity” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I have written about Trello before. Regarding supporting an instructional model and my workflow. However, I have written little about how it works or some of the different ways you can use it.

  1. Boards, Lists, Cards: Trello supports project management. It has several layers, starting with teams and collections, then boards. Once inside a Trello board, you can create multiple lists and cards. The proper model used to set up a board is the Kanban method, focusing on three lists: to do, doing and done. However, you can set a board up however you like. Once cards are created, they can easily be moved between different lists and archived when no longer required. Regarding a team situation, Trello allows you to work more transparently.
  2. Making Cards: There are four key elements to a card: description, attachments, checklists and comments. The descriptions and comments allow you to record regular information, and embed links and content. However, one of the most useful elements are checklists. You can either copy the checklist from another card or start your own.
  3. Filters: One thing you notice quickly with Trello is that things can get busy quick. One way of easing this is organising cards around members and tags. When you go to add members, you can add anyone within the team. Regarding tags, these are coloured and can be customised. I have used tags to sort between different focuses, however I also know people you use them to organise cards around priorities. Within the menu there is the means of filtering by both tags and cards.
  4. Collaboration: From a team point of view, Trello supports collaboration in several ways. The obvious way is to add someone as a member to a card. However, another way of connecting with others is by tagging people using their @username. This can be done in both comments and checklists. The other means of collaboration is sharing a link to a public board.
  5. Attachments: Whether it be from Google Drive, Microsoft Office, a PDF or a link from the web, cards provide a useful way of collecting together a range of items around a topic in one space. Attachments can be added directly or via a comment.
  6. Updates: Whether it be the checking off an item in the checklist or a comment being added, Trello provides several ways to update team members. When subscribed to a card, whole board or tagged into something, you are notified when things change. Initially this is through the application, but if unseen this summary is pushed out via email. Although you can not adjust what notifications are shown, there is the option within your personal settings to adjust the frequency to which you receive emails, with one option being never. For a different perspective, you can scroll through the various activities to see what has been happening. There is also the means of integrating updates into Slack, which can also be useful.
  7. Multiple Points of Access: Although the most obvious way of accessing Trello is via the web, there is a mobile application. This means you can add content and information wherever you are. Must of the functionality is the same across both platforms. However, there are elements such as filtering that are only  available on the web.
  8. Markdown: Regarding formatting, Trello allows you to use Markdown to change the text. One catch is that different fields involve different options. You can bold, use italics and add links. While for both comments and descriptions, you can add horizontal lines and block quotes, and regarding the description, there is the means of embedding images and adding headings. For a great introduction to Markdown, John Gruber provides a useful application which allows you to see what the markdown text would look like as HTML.
  9. Shortcut to Creating a Card: Whether it be using a Google Chrome extension or using  the email address associated with each board, there are different ways of adding to Trello. These can be useful when forwarding on various links and resources.
  10. Customisation: There are several ways to go further with Trello. This includes adding various power-ups, which often build on the APIs to help personalise how things work for your team. I must admit that these aspects are nuanced, but they provide other options none the less.

For more information, I recommend the following video to help get your head around everything.

On a side note, Trello was sold to Atlassian. The promise is that this will only make Trello better, but time will tell. It is also important to note the limits of ‘free’. Like with so many different applications, Trello provide access to a certain limit and then push you towards a premium model. The basic difference is that you can add larger file attachments and activate more Power-Ups.

So what about you? Have you used Trello? How? Or maybe you have used something different? As always, comments welcome.

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Ten Tricks to Trello by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

22 thoughts on “Ten Tricks to Trello

  1. Hi Aaron,
    You know I love a bit of Trello. I’m sure I’m barely scratching the surface with my use of it, and this has inspired me to use tags a bit more. This article
    was one that I found quite interesting. I started to try using this system, but now I think I’ll go back to my old system of different boards for different parts of my job, but add Urgent and Important tags so that I can filter cards that way. I’m also a fan of getting students to use it to organise group work, though my classes this year don’t lend themselves to this.
    As always, a great read.

    • Thanks for the comment Eric. The team I in decided to move to a subject/job based approach too. Must admit, still figuring things out, especially in regards to using it collaboratively.

  2. In this guide, Atlassian and AXELOS have partnered to help jumpstart your agile journey. You’ll learn eight practices typically used by high-velocity IT teams, and tips from the Atlassian Team Playbook to bring more agility and collaboration into ITSM:

    Source: ITIL 4 is here—and it’s more agile than ever. by Atlassian

    Akshay Anand, Paul Buffington, Ian Buchanan and Teresa Fok from Atlassian and Axelos come together to provide a practical guide for working with ITIL 4 and Atlassian. The whitepaper begins by addressing the guiding principles to ITIL:

    • Focus on value
    • Start where you are
    • Progress iteratively with feedback
    • Collaborate and promote visibility
    • Think and work holistically
    • Keep it simple and practical
    • Optimize and automate

    It then explores the practices that the ‘best performing IT teams typically use’:

    • Continual improvement with retrospectives – This can involve two continual improvement practices: the Improvement Kata and retrospectives.
    • Agile project management to speed up project delivery
    • Knowledge management to empower team culture – This can involve aggregating your team’s knowledge in a single repository.
    • Customer-centered service desk and request management – This often involves a focus on developing resources and processes to support self-service and sharing documentation with lower levels.
    • Adaptive incident management – This involves planning, responding, and learning from every incident.
    • Streamlined change control through automation and collaboration
    • Continuous delivery for deployment management
    • Integrated software development and operations teams – This can include shifting your mindset towards better collaboration, tighter integration, and shared risks and responsibility.

    I found this paper interesting reflection upon my practices, as I feel that I am already doing many of the things intuitively, but that ITIL framework provides clarity on how to talk about this. For example, a few years ago I developed public facing catalogues associated with reports and guides which can be understood as a “Shift left” approach to setting up self-service strategies. While when implementing the eLearn solution, I created a process to support learning from incidents through the creation of a knowledge base organised into different modules. This was then used to develop proactive actions to prevent such incidents occuring again. I also introduced introduced Trello and Kanban to my team as a means of managing projects collaboratively.

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