Project Management arose from the growing complexity of projects. Modern projects can now be so complex it can be impossible to effectively manage one without the use of a tool. They simply have too many tasks, people, resources, and dependencies for a single person to keep in mind. As such, a host of different options have been developed over time. I wanted to start with a freeium (free with added extras you can pay for) product that I’ve been using, Trello. Trello uses a pretty common card based interface. You create a board (usually for each project) and within each board a series of lists. By default a To Do, Doing, and Done list are created but you can make as many others as your project needs. These lists can then be populated with cards for each task or item.
Trello works great for individuals or groups. If you have a group project it is easy to assign cards to individuals and track progress. This makes it easy to log into Trello and get a great overview of who is currently working on what. There are other features that can be activated as well, such as card voting which lets teams vote on different tasks. This can be helpful if you are planning new work or using Agile Project Management.
While at first glance Trello cards appear to be simple text fields, they can contain so much more. At it’s core a card is simply a note about a task or other item. However, each card can then be assigned to a user for collaborative projects, be tagged with a label, or given a due date. Cards can have comments as well checklists with sub-tasks or lists. Cards can also have assigned due dates which work great for the more advanced calendar view and allow for easy notification of due dates.. You can also attach documents locally or from cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Cards also track the history of any edits so it is clear what was changed or added and who did it. The sample below shows some of the options available.
Trello also has well developed iOS and Android apps that work well on both tablets and phones. While there is additional functionality on the website that isn’t in the app, you can do most any project management related tasks quickly and easily on the go and your information is seamlessly shared between devices as well as other team members.
If you are just starting out thinking about project management in a more serious way, I really don’t think there’s a better tool out there to start with. While other options (usually paid ones) do exist, Trello has all of the features that a good project management tool should have and the free accounts make for easy adoption by a team. If you have started with Trello, I’d suggest checking out the “How to use Trello like a pro” blog series. It has a really great introduction to some of the more advanced features.
The developers of Trello also seem to have a great sense of humor about things. There are sets of stickers available to tag cards. If you chose to become a paid member you can get exclusive ones featuring the cute mascot dog, Taco. Time for a horrible plug, should you think about trying Trello out, consider using my invitation link which will net me a free month of Trello Gold. https://trello.com/michaelperry8/recommend It is most appreciated.
At any given time I have about 5 work projects going on and usually have an additional 3 or 4 personal ones. Without using Trello to track the tasks for those projects it would be impossible for me to manage, let alone deliver on time, any one of these projects. With Trello I’m able to spend 5 minutes in the morning and come away with a clear idea of what is going on and what I need to do for the day. And while Trello does require ongoing maintenance to keep boards current, that time pays for itself many times over by keeping my projects and more importantly my life, moving forward.