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What Is Trello And How Does It Work?
April 3, 2020
When you think of how you manage your projects, you may instantly think of Google Sheets or Asana. While the name Trello may be familiar, you may not know how different it is compared to other project management software and its benefits for individuals and companies.
Trello provides some unique benefits because it runs on an entirely different format than other software. It’s also simpler to use in some cases and is very interactive.
In this article, we’ll explain what Trello is, why people love it, and provide some reasons to consider adopting it as your new project management system.
What is Trello?
Trello is project management software that’s used by millions of workers and freelancers around the globe. It has become one of the most popular ways to collaborate on and manage projects. Trello allows you to create “boards” that are streamlined and offer a compact, visual way to move through the work management process.
The ease of collaboration is a big reason why businesses may be interested in taking a look at Trello. It’s simple to assign tasks to others, and the visual component shows exactly who is doing what. With a single glance, you can get an idea of who is working on which project, where it is in the pipeline, and the proposed deadline.
Trello was designed under the principles of Kanban, which is the idea of visualizing workflows so they can be seen from the beginning stages to the end at one glance. A Trello board usually covers one task or project.
When using Trello, keep in mind that you can also sign in via your Atlassian account. Atlassian purchased Trello in 2017, and it can now be used in conjunction with other Atlassian software products such as Jira and Confluence.
Why use Trello for project management?
Trello is great for companies or individuals who have a number of tasks running at once and who need to be able to track their progress. It puts the onus of completing tasks on the user and helps reduce the chance of “forgotten” assignments. One of the reasons so many companies have chosen to use it over other project management tools is the fact that it is streamlined in comparison to other software.
Trello provides balance
For those who don’t need a complex management tool to complete tasks, Trello is a way to balance assigning tasks and collaborating. For businesses, this allows managers to easily make employees aware of their assignments, while employees can benefit from seeing due dates in relation to other projects.
Great for multiple types of projects
Part of the reason Trello has caught on so quickly is that it can also be used for pretty much any type of project. Whether you need to create a personal to-do list, manage tasks for an upcoming wedding, or run an editorial calendar, Trello is simple enough for day-to-day use as well.
What are Trello’s benefits compared to other project management software?
There are a number of other project management tools out there, so you may be wondering why you would choose Trello over the other options. Much of this will depend on how you or your team likes to accomplish tasks and whether or not you prefer a more visual format.
Here is a quick comparison between Trello and some of the other popular project management tools available on the market today.
Trello and Asana
While Trello is designed for tasks that require only broad directives, Asana is more detailed and meant for projects that need multiple layered steps to be completed. Asana is typically best for smaller teams that require different ways to detail their processes or to apply a workflow structure.
Asana requires more of a deep-dive than Trello as well, and it can be difficult to see the state of an entire project because it is so task-based. Instead of clicking and dragging items like you would in Trello, Asana asks you to enter each task and then mark its status.
Overall, whether you choose to use Asana over Trello depends on whether or not you enjoy a more visual experience. Trello provides a more active approach to completing and seeing progress, while Asana can be helpful for taking on projects with multiple moving parts or if your team is working together on a number of tasks at once.
Trello and ClickUp
ClickUp adopts a similar board system to Trello’s while aiming to maintain the same goal of simplicity. While Trello offers one view in its free version (there are more views available in the paid version), ClickUp provides a number of ways to see tasks such as “List View,” “Box View,” and “Board View.” If one of your teams likes to work in a certain way and another prefers a different view, then you have the option to change between the two with ClickUp.
While ClickUp aims to keep Trello’s idea of “simpler is better,” it may not always be as intuitive. It can take some time to understand how each view works, and the mobile app is known for not being the most straightforward.
Trello and Monday.com
Unlike ClickUp and Trello, Monday.com offers multiple forms of organizing tasks, but the most common is list view. The platform takes the concept of a spreadsheet and makes it more intuitive by allowing you to color-code tasks and then update them as you go along. Monday.com is designed mostly for teams and is generally regarded as user-friendly. It also provides a client portal where your clients can create their own tasks or stay updated on how your team is doing.
However, Monday.com is much more expensive than Trello at $39.99 a month. Plus, because it is a newer product, it does not have the same number of available integrations compared to Trello. If you have the budget and the need, then Monday.com may be worth the extra cost. But you could also start out with Trello and make the switch later if you’re looking for a similar format.
Trello and Basecamp
Trello and Basecamp have some important distinctions from one another, but they’re often compared to each other. While Trello focuses more on collaboration and creating tasks with teams, Basecamp is more client-facing and offers tools to help employees communicate about the state of tasks. Basecamp also allows for easy file and document sharing, though Trello does offer this as well.
On the down side, Basecamp does not offer a free version, and it is not as customizable as Trello is for collaborative use. Since Basecamp is an older tool, it also doesn’t have some of the newer integrations that Trello does.
Trello and Slack
Slack is mostly known for its messaging capabilities but it is possible to create to-do lists and reminders in this platform as well. Slack also makes collaboration possible through messaging, but it’s simply not the same as having a visual representation of your tasks. Most businesses prefer to use Slack as a way to communicate, and they then choose an actual project management tool collaborating on tasks.
What operating systems run Trello?
Trello runs on both PC and Mac with an application you can download for either from the iOS App Store or the company’s website. And if you want to continue collaborating when you’re on-the-go, you can download the Trello app for your Apple or Android device, too. You can also run Trello through any web browser.
How to collaborate in Trello
One of the reasons why Trello is so popular among businesses of all sizes is because it’s so simple to collaborate on projects. To do so, you first need to assign a leader to a board or task where they can provide more information about what needs to be done.
You can also pin a “how-to” card at the top of each board that answers any potential questions, or you can use it as an outline of goals, resources, and more.
Trello allows you to comment and tag members of your team in order to alert them to tasks to complete or you can use the tagging feature to communicate with each other. You can even add links to Google Hangouts or use Trello’s Power-Ups feature to host regular meetings within the application.
You can give other team members access to changing boards and moving tasks within the board. By clicking and dragging an item, your employees or co-workers can mark something as done or in progress. You can also assign due dates, which you can mark in green when finished (or red if overdue).
If you would like clients to be able to view the action, you can also create a board that allows them to watch as your team performs certain tasks which gives them a chance to review and approve items. When they see something that needs to be revised, they can mark that as well.
What integrations and features can you use with Trello?
Another reason for Trello’s popularity is the fact you can integrate it with a wide variety of useful applications such as Google Drive, Salesforce, and Slack. These integrations are called “Power-Ups” within Trello, and the free and paid versions allow for different usage options.
Here are some of the integrations you can use with Trello Power-Ups:
- Google Drive
- Custom fields
- Sales Pipeline
- Google Hangouts
- Card Repeater
- Time in List
Keep in mind that the free version of Trello only allows you to use one Power-Up at a time. This can be limiting if you have a bunch of different types of tasks to complete and you need to access a number of integrations at once (like Google Drive and Slack, for example).
Paid versions of Trello
The paid versions of Trello allow you to have more than one Power-Up running at a time, with three different tiers to choose from. The one you choose will depend on how many team members you have and how many Power-Ups you plan to provide to your team.
You can use one Power-Up, and change the color of your backgrounds in the free version. You can also upload files to 10MB, and include links to assets on each card. Invite multiple team members to your boards and give them varying levels of editing control.
The Gold tier is designed for individuals looking to have access to more Trello features for a lower price. Gold functions include the option to use up to three Power-Ups on any of your boards and custom backgrounds. You can also upload files up to 250MB, rather than the 10MB included in the free version. You can get Trello Gold for $5 per month.
Trello Business Class is meant for those who have multiple teams working on projects or who may need additional technical support. You also have access to unlimited Power-Ups and the opportunity to add clients if they want to be involved in how their items are progressing. Trello Business Class costs $12.50 per team member when you choose to bill monthly, or $120 billed annually.
For large corporations, Trello Enterprise offers per-user licensing, which means that you can pay per user instead one larger fee per month. It includes all of Trello’s Business Class features and additional security measures, and you can pay via an invoice rather than by credit card.
Trello is an amazing tool for individuals or companies who enjoy using a visual project management tool with plenty of opportunities for integrations. For individuals or companies who need a tool that encourages collaboration, you can get more done, more efficiently too.
With multi-tiered pricing, you can find an option that works the best for you and what you want to accomplish with your team, as well as the tools to help you feel as though you are meeting your goals.
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About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.