Keeping track of your workload is important, and Trello is the best tool for the job in my opinion. I’ve been using Trello to manage my client work for about a year now, and I love it more and more each day. As the amount of work increases along with the number of collaborators, the project management app scales and surprises.
For a long time, I used an Excel workbook for each of my clients (each project being its own sheet) to track tasks and due dates. After acquiring a fifth client and hiring another developer to help me with the accumulating work, I realized that the Excel workbook was going to have to be replaced. I made a short list of requirements for a project management app:
- Must allow attachments on a per-task basis
- Must allow task assignment
- Must allow clients to submit requests
- Must cost less than $50/month
I evaluated Basecamp first, but for $50/month, we only received 15GB of storage and 40 projects. While we actually only had 17 projects at the time, I wanted a solution that could grow without an increase in cost.
I signed up for a Trello free account and spent an hour configuring swim lanes, user accounts, project labels, and card templates. I then revisited my requirements list. I was able to quickly determine that requirements 1, 2, and 4 were met, but requirement 3 was going to require a little creativity. I did some Google-aided investigation and quickly found that Zapier had a slew of Trello integrations — one of which filled in the missing requirement. Zapier offers a free integration that creates a Trello card based on data collected from a JotForm submission (JotForm is a form-building service like Wufoo). Since we were already using a JotForm form to collect issue information from our clients, this was a no-brainer. I proceeded to fine-tune Trello.
When everything was configured well enough to represent our workflow, I prepared myself to start the grueling process of migrating tasks from Excel to the app. To my surprise, this ended up being not such a big deal. Trello lets you insert a list of tasks; a card is created for each task. Even better, Zapier offers an integration for importing tasks to Trello.
Since our migration to Trello, we’ve been able to spend more time building and a lot less time managing projects. We ended up paying for Trello Gold ($5/month) to increase the maximum upload size from 10MB to 250MB, and we subscribed to the Zapier Basic plan ($15/month) to further integrate Trello into our process. We couldn’t be happier with the extinction of our Excel workbook, and we’re even helping our clients adopt Trello in their businesses!
Some Pro Tips
Show Card Numbers - Every card has a card number, but you have to actually open the cards to see them. With this trick, that’s no longer the case. Card numbers are shown for all cards on the board. All you have to do is create a bookmark in your browser. Call it “Trello Card Numbers” or something like that, and set the URL equal to the value below. When you’re viewing a board, click the bookmark in your bookmark toolbar and you’ll be good to go.
Creating Cards from Templates - This functionality isn’t too apparent, but we’ve figured out how to make it happen. Create a swim lane on your board called “Templates” or something like that. Then, create new cards for the templates. Add all of the details, labels, and attachments that you want to the template. Whenever you’re ready to create a card from that template, open the card, click “More...” at the bottom-right of the card, and select “Copy...”. That’s it!