Now that I’ve been with Small Dog’s Marketing department for almost a year, I am well-versed in the number of requests from other departments as well as our own daily responsibilities that we have to keep up with.
Early last year, we started using Trello, which is a web-based project management system that allows you to organize anything in a very simple way, from life goals and to-do lists to group projects. Trello refers to their product as a “whiteboard with superpowers.” Well said, Trello.
Our main Trello board is called “Marketing Projects” (genius, huh?) and on this board are various lists that represent the type of project category, such as “Admin,” “Print,” “Events,” “Retail,” “Web,” and so on. We also have a board called “Done” that’s marked with the current month, so that we have an easy way to see how many projects we’ve completed in a month. When we have finished a project/to-do, we drag it over to the Done board, and it’s a great feeling to watch that list get longer.
Within each list, we have our separate projects, which are called “cards.” You can think of it as a kind of to-do list — each card represents something that needs to get done, and when you view the entire board, each is a snapshot of what the project requires. The cards are totally customizable, and you can add several layers of detail within each one. You can assign cards to different members of the board (you can invite whoever you’d like to view/participate on the board via email), mark them with different labels (customized however you’d like), add due dates, make comments and upload attachments.
In our particular case, we have found that there are certain ways that the card system works best for us. For example, while the label titles are customizable with your own text, the number of labels maxes out at six. They’re color-coded, but the colors are set and can’t be changed or added to. Because of this limitation, we’ve found that using the label titles to indicate status rather than the project categories themselves (which we used to do) makes the most sense. We use “Low,” “Medium,” and “High” Priority, “In Progress,” “Waiting on Response,” and “On Hold.” Further customization of the labels would be a great upgrade for Trello (so, developers, if you’re listening…).
Some other nice features of Trello include multiple view options (dependent upon your browser window size, your list displays either vertically or horizontally), card counts (it’s nice to see how many are in each list at a time, though some view options obscure this), a Subscribe feature (nice for when you’re assigned to multiple cards or when you need someone to get notifications for a particular card even when they don’t have any action items within it) and an Archive feature (used most when we archive the previous month’s Done board).
We’ve also found that the developers, Fog Creek Software, are really engaged and responsive. Their Trello blog, Facebook page and Twitter account are constantly updated, and often include new features and information about their product. In fact, just this past week, they were great at keeping the public updated on the status of their site. Their data centers are in lower Manhattan, and due to the flooding from hurricane Sandy, they were down for a short time. Thankfully for everyone, all were back up and running in a short period of time.
Whether you’re an individual who wants to keep track of your to-dos at home or a team like ours, Trello might be something worth checking into. It really is a great (free!) way to stay organized in a simple and efficient way!
Trello has a free app, available for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, and it has come in pretty handy for me over the past week (see links below). I took a long weekend to visit my mom and sister in Florida, but because of the hurricane, my return flight was cancelled, leaving me there almost a week longer. Since I did not bring my computer with me, I was able to view Trello on my iPhone to have an idea of what I’d need to do when I got back!
Download the app here. Enjoy!