On Twitter this morning Doug Belshaw asked for recommendations for tools to get people out of their email for internal communications.
A few people mentioned Trello and this elicited the further question of how it can be used collaboratively:
In the web team at Newcastle University we’re using Trello in three ways:
- as an editorial calendar
- for workload planning
- for project task management
We have multiple boards, with four in regular use. Typically each task gets a card. As work on the task progresses it moves through a series of lists, which map to a process.
Work on the tasks and activity on the boards happens daily. Although each board is reviewed by all team members in person, usually at a monthly meeting.
The editorial calendar
Our blog writers and editors (a team of five) use this board to plan posts for our team blog. We took the inspiration from Trello’s own editorial calendar.
The lists that map to the stages in the production of a blog post are:
- post ideas
- ready for editing
Each card has two people assigned to it; one writer and one editor. We use the comments to identify who is in which role.
Cards are archived once the post is published.
The calendar power-up allows us to get a visual overview of what’s coming up on the blog. We use the voting power-up to identify which topics on the post ideas list should be produced next.
Our whole team – that’s 11 people – use this board. We use it for planning tasks that we identify as business as usual. As project requests come in they’re added to a list of tasks to assign.
In our weekly team meeting we review the board, and assign tasks to people. We have one list per month. Once a task has been assigned it’s moved into the list for the month when it will be worked on.
At the end of each month the list is reviewed and archived. Any tasks that are still in progress are moved.
I find using Trello in this way helps us to maintain awareness of what all other team members are working on. We use checklists, comments and attachments to collaborate on tasks when input is needed from both the technical and editorial teams.
Project task management
This is our newest set-up and we’re still refining it.
We’ve got a board for the technical working group where all tasks relating to the development of components in our new CMS are recorded. Each component gets a card and moves its way through lists for:
- sign off
After sign off tasks are generated for the editorial team around content standards and training. We’ve got a separate board to manage these. This has a simpler process with lists for:
- discussion items
- tasks to assign
- in progress
What we’re missing in these boards is a solution for prioritising tasks. We’re currently noting this in the card title – as high, medium or low – but there must be a better way.
We’re testing the card ageing power-up on these boards which changes the look of a card when it’s been idle for a set period. It also adds a date for when the card was last updated.
I think Trello helps us in many ways. Most notably to keep an overview of everything the team is working on and to increase transparency within the team.
It also feels much easier to pass tasks back and forth between team members, particularly when both technical and editorial input is needed.
Is your team using Trello for task management? If you’ve got any tips please share them in the comments.
If you’re interested in other options for collaborative task management then Doug has collated all the comments and recommendations he received in a wiki page on team collaboration.