What is Trello and How To Use It?

In any industry, collaboration provides many benefits. Teams can accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently, and collaboration can also fuel innovation and foster creativity. Collaboration tools, by default, enable a group of two or more people to collaborate and move towards a common goal or objective. Although there are plenty of non-technical options, such as post-it notes, paper, whiteboards and flip charts available, in this article we will discuss a popular technical application—Trello. We will answer vital questions, and explain—in detail—how to use Trello.

What is Trello?

Trello is a popular, simple, and easy-to-use collaboration tool that enables you to organize projects and everything related to them into boards. With Trello, you can find all kinds of information, such as: 

  • What’s being worked on?
  • Who’s working on what? 
  • What progress the project is making

Now, let’s talk about what makes Trello so special.

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Key Features of Trello

  • Trello employs boards, cards, and lists for project management.
  • Subtasks within a card can be made with checklists.
  • Tasks can be allocated to several members, so they will be notified of any card changes.
  • The tasks can have deadlines included. 
  • An​ activity log keeps the team up to date.
  • The inclusion of attachments enables the efficient organization of resources.
  • Its built-in automation, Butler, reduces the number of tedious tasks by harnessing the power of automation. 

TrelloBoard

Trello Board

Integrations

Trello allows organizations to connect their team's applications to the Trello workflow. There are hundreds of Power-Ups/integrations available to make workflow seamless. Some of the popular ones include:

  • Slack
  • Google Drive
  • GitHub
  • Telegram
  • Salesforce
  • IBM Connect
  • Twitter

Users

Trello's simplicity has attracted over 40 million users worldwide. Some of the notable companies that are Trello users include:

  • Google
  • Adobe
  • John Deere
  • Coinbase
  • National Geographic

Trello Advantages

  • Trello can be used immediately after signing up. Trello offers a free sign-up, after which you get access to almost all of its features. It is also a premium service, though most of the important features are available with the free option.
  • Trello follows the Kanban system, which is a popular methodology used to achieve lean management. This means that you can also achieve lean with Trello.
  • It’s mobile-friendly. Trello’s interface looks very similar to a mobile application and is very user-friendly. It also has a very popular mobile application that has the same features available in the desktop application.
  • All project-related items can be seen on one page.
  • Adding new members, creating issues, and assigning them is easy to do.

How to Use Trello for Effective Project Management

The following measures help utilize Trello for effective project management:

Step 1: Sign up on Trello

First-time users can sign up by visiting trello.com.

trello demo

Signing Up Screen 

You will see the following screen when you log in for the first time. There will be an option to create a new board under the Personal Board tab. 

login

First Screen that Appears on Logging in

Step 2: Create a Board in Trello

Take the following steps to create a board, as nothing happens without a board in Trello. 

  • Under the Personal Boards tab, click the Create new board option. 
  • Name the board. You can choose a background pattern or color that can be altered later. 
  • You can choose which team you would like to give access to a board if you have multiple teams.

Trello_Steps_3.

Three Steps to Create A Board

Step 3: Create a Team 

You need to set up a team for professional purposes. For that, click on the option: "Create a team." 

create-a-team

The pop-up on clicking the 'Create a team' option

You must provide a team name, describe its type, and include a brief description. Then click on 'Continue', and the option to invite team members will appear.

invite-your-team

The Option to Invite Team Members 

Enter the email IDs of your team members and click the send invitation button. They will receive an invite to join Trello.

Trello_Steps_6

Three Steps to Send Invitation

Step 4: Create Lists in Trello

You create lists as per your requirement. For instance, you can have three lists: To Do, In Progress, and Done. You can also have a list for each member of your team. The steps to create a list are as follows:

  • Open the board to create a new list. Below the name of the board, click Add a list option.
  • Name your list and then click Add List.
  • Right below your list, you will find an option to add a card. 

Trello_Steps_7

Three Steps to Add a List

Step 5: Create Cards in Trello

  • Click the Add a card option present below the list name. 
  • Enter a title for the card and click Add Card.

Trello_Steps_8

Three Steps to Add a Card

Clicking on a card, you can add a description/comment for your team members. You can also add labels, checklists, and attachments from the same screen.

Step 6: Assigning Cards and Giving Due Dates

You can add members and due dates to Trello cards. When working with a team, it helps you to know who's working on a task. Due dates help in keeping track of when tasks need to be done.

You can assign a person to a card and keep a check on who a task has been assigned. You can also add multiple members to a card to ensure that all get updates on a specific task. The steps to add someone to a card are as follows:

  • Click on the card to which you have to assign members.
  • Click the Members option present on the right.
  • Search for people on your team, and click the names to add them.

Trello_Steps_9

Three Steps to Adding Members to a Card

Next, to add due dates, follow these steps:

  • Click on the card to which you have to add a due date.
  • Click the Due Date option from the list on the right.
  • Select a due date from the calendar. You can add a time and then click Save.

Due dates less than 24 hours away get a yellow label, while cards that are past due show up in red.

Trello_Steps_10

Three Steps To Adding A Due Date

Step 7: Add Labels to Cards 

Trello allows you to add coloured labels to cards to identify the task type or the group it belongs to. You can also add multiple labels to a single card. The steps to add labels to a card are as follows: 

  • Click on the card to which you have to add a label.
  • Click the Labels option present on the right.
  • Select a label from your list. It displays several pre-chosen colors. Clicking on the edit icon allows you to add a label.

Trello_Steps_11

Three Steps to Adding A Label

After you have added labels to your cards, you will be able to see colored bars on the cards in your lists, as shown in the image. 

Trello_Steps_12

Labels on Cards on the Board

How to Search in Trello with Shortcuts?

When your list size grows, it gets difficult to see everything at a glance. To search for what you are looking for, Trello offers a number of useful keyboard shortcuts.  

  • B: It opens the Boards menu to search for and switch between various boards.
  • /: It opens the search box to hunt cards and lists. 
  • F: It opens the filter dialog box to filter out cards by labels, keywords, members, or due date. 

You can find a complete list of Trello's shortcuts here.

Boards in Trello

boards

Fig: Here, you can see an option to create a board under the name of your team.

Select to create a board. 

create-a-board

Fig: Even if you click on ‘Create a board’ under the ‘Personal Boards,’ you can choose to add your team by clicking on the option that says ‘No team’ and then select your team name

personal-boards

Fig: Upon clicking on ‘Create Board,’ you receive access to the board.

team visible
Fig: Here, you can also select the option that says ‘Team Visible’ to change the privacy options of the board
You have the following options:

  • Private: Only board members can see and edit the board
  • Team: All members of the team can see and edit the board
  • Organization: All members of the organization can see the board. It’s an option that needs to be added to enable an enterprise team.
  • Public: Anyone on the internet has access to the board

Fig: There are also several options available to the right of the screen, including: 

  • About this board: Description about what the objective of the board is
  • Change the background
  • Search for a particular card
  • Stickers
  • Butler: Provides suggestions on actions to take
  • Power-ups: Additional features, like collaboration tools that can be added to your board (Only one available for free accounts)

Now, let’s assume that the team is working on a project to deliver software to a particular client.

add-a-list

Fig: The first step is to ‘Add a list,’ which represents the different steps you want to follow.

deliver-a-project

Fig: Once created, this represents the steps you need to take to deliver your project.

In this case, we’re using four lists:

  • To-do - To show projects that are yet to be started
  • In-progress - projects that are being worked on
  • On-hold - To represent projects that are paused for some reason
  • Completed - To show completed projects.
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Cards in Trello

cards


Fig: Once the lists are completed, cards need to be added. They represent the different tasks within the project.

In this case—‘Delivering product to company A’; and,‘Delivering product to company B.’

options-pop-up

Fig: Upon clicking a card, several options pop up.

You can add a description for that particular card and choose from various tasks to add to the card. Some examples include:

Members

members

Fig: Members who need to be involved at this stage.

Labels

labels

Fig: Labels that can be used to categorize the card.

Checklist

checklist.

Fig: A checklist to represent the different steps required to complete the project.

In this case, “the software development lifecycle.”

Due date

due date

Fig: An option to choose a due date for when the card should be completed.

Attachments

attachments

Fig: An option to add an attachment, from multiple sources.

For example, a ‘Requirements’ document. 

Cover

cover

Fig: You can also add a cover to make the card more visually appealing.

Once that’s done, you can get started with your project. 

Getting Started With Your Project Using Trello

getting-started

Fig: In this case, we’ll put the project under ‘In progress’ by dragging and dropping the card into that list.

in-progress

Fig: While the card is ‘In-progress,’ we can see what progress has been made. These changes are reflected in the checklist.

on hold

Fig: If the project is delayed for some reason, you can move it to the ‘On hold’ list.

Once the delay is lifted, the project is placed back to ‘In-progress.’ After it’s done, the project is placed into the ‘Completed’ list.

archive-button

Fig: Once complete, you can right-click on the project, to archive it by clicking on the ‘archive’ button.

project-completion

Fig: Archive representing the completion of the project.

If the archived card needs to be reactivated, go to the menu. 

select more

Fig: Select ‘More’.

archived-items

Fig: Then, select ‘Archived items’ to return the card on to the board

On the home screen, you can also select on ‘Templates,’ which will show you a selection of pre-made options to choose from. 

template

Fig: Select the ‘Template’ option.

The ‘Home’ option on the dashboard shows every activity that has occurred on your boards.

home-option

Fig: The ‘Home’ option

Another essential thing to remember is—depending on your requirements—you can create a single board for a particular project. However, with a free account, there is a limit of 10 boards.

Trello Pricing

Trello recently updated its pricing, and it now offers four tiers: Free, Standard, Premium, and Enterprise.

Free

Standard

Premium

Enterprise

$0USD

$5USD/ user/month if billed annually

$6 if billed monthly

$10USD/ user/month if billed annually 

$12.50 billed monthly

$17.50USD/ user/month if billed annually 

$210.00 annual price per user

For individuals or teams 

For teams 

For teams upto 100

For organizations 

Key benefits:

  • 250 Workspace command runs/ month
  • Unlimited cards
  • Unlimited Power-Ups per board
  • Up to 10 boards/ Workspace
  • Custom backgrounds 
  • Unlimited activity log
  • iOS and Android mobile apps
  • Assignee and due dates
  • 2-factor authentication
  • Unlimited storage (10MB/file)


Includes the following in addition to the FREE plan:

  • 1,000 Workspace command runs per month
  • Unlimited boards
  • Custom Fields
  • Advanced checklists
  • Unlimited storage (250MB/file)
  • Single board guests
  • Saved searches

Includes the following in addition to the STANDARD plan:  

  • Unlimited Workspace command runs
  • Dashboard view
  • Workspace Table view
  • Timeline view
  • Calendar view
  • Map view
  • Workspace Calendar View
  • Admin and security features
  • Collections
  • Observers
  • Priority support
  • Workspace-level templates
  • Simple data export

Includes everything in PREMIUM, plus: 

  • Unlimited Workspaces
  • Organization visible boards
  • Organization-wide permissions
  • Multi-board guests
  • Public board management
  • Power-Up administration
  • Attachment permissions
  • Free SSO and user provisioning with Atlassian Access

How Trello Compares to Alternatives

According to Gartner, spending on collaboration platforms will rise 17% this year, and work management platforms will be the biggest driver.

Alongside Trello, Asana and Monday completed IPOs in the past year, at valuations of $4 billion and $7.5 billion, respectively. Other competitors include Workfront (by Adobe for $1.5 billion) and Wrike (by Citrix for $2.25 billion). Microsoft's task management tool, Planner, is a stronger competitor of Trello.

Like Trello, most of these tools have the same Kanban-style to-do list approach,  similar boards, lists, view, and card layouts. They also include automation and collaborative features.

Trello has long held a significant market share due to its ease of use, flexibility, and powerful capabilities. It currently stands out against similar tools but is facing growing competition. 

How Trello Plans to Evolve

Trello brought forward an app overhaul on the 10th anniversary of its launch. It has included several fresh board views: table, calendar, timeline, and dashboard. Trello confirms that users would be able to move cards across various boards in each view. It would facilitate third-party developers to create their apps/services and connect with the various board views in the future. According to Castañón, Trello has managed to stay ahead of the curve in various ways. 

Trello Project Management Features

Trello helps teams throughout every step of the project management process, right from planning to execution. The entire process entails the following features:

Planning

The planning phase comprises research, establishing goals, and mapping out the strategies for the entire project. It involves identifying the scope of the project and establishing goals with stakeholders to put together a budget.

Setup

Once the strategy gets in shape, it's time to put the pieces together. Host a meeting and go over details with your in-office or remote team. It includes sharing the project plan, covering responsibilities, and answering queries. This place is great for obtaining inputs from your team and making alterations before the start.

Implementation

Ideas become actions on implementation. It's crucial to remain hands-on, join meetings, gather progress reports, and provide updates to stakeholders. Every step counts, and the big picture starts to come into focus.

Closing

It involves adding the final finishing touches to your projects. It may appear like the completion, but there is an important step ahead: self-evaluation. Once the project reaches closure, taking notes on what worked and what didn't help in making things run smoother in the future. 



There you go! You now know how to use Trello!

Want to Learn More About Project Management?

There are all sorts of tools and techniques available to help you manage your projects more efficiently and effectively, no matter what field you are in. To learn how to streamline any projects you will work on, check out Simplilearn’s PMP® Certification Training Course. The course covers all of the best practices and techniques found in the industry-recognized PMBOK guide. Upon completion of the course, you should be able to pass the PMP exam with flying colors!

About the Author

Rahul ArunRahul Arun

Rahul is a Senior Research Analyst at Simplilearn. Blockchain, Cloud Computing, and Machine Learning are some of his favorite topics of discussion. Rahul can be found listening to music, doodling, and gaming.

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