Trello is a terrific tool for managing projects and tasks. For project management with Trello, you can use its built-in tools for organization, tracking, and communication.
However, what really makes Trello stand out are those features that are time-saving little extras. You may or may not know these tools exist, but using them can make the management of your next project more productive.
The Kanban Method and Trello
As a project manager, you have likely learned about the Kanban technique by now. Kanban is basically a visual method for managing items.
Kanban is a Japanese word and the technique began with Toyota Motor Company decades ago. And while it was then used for inventory management, this method has since been used successfully in all kinds of industries. This is because the process can be applied to not just physical item delivery, but services, tasks, and as a productive project management tool:
The basic setup of a Kanban schedule divides the given process into its component steps. Individual tasks — typically represented by Post-it notes or a digital equivalent — move from left to right through columns that are labelled with the name of each step and a number.
This number, determined by the scheduler, represents the amount of tasks that the team or individual responsible for that stage of production, can handle at any given time.
So, how does Trello come into play with the Kanban method? Trello is a tool for managing projects and tasks for individuals and businesses and it uses this technique. You create your (Kanban) board, add lists (which are the columns), and then insert cards (which are the tasks or items within the lists).
Along with the visual basics of the Kanban method, Trello offers a variety of features that transform it into a wonderful product management tool. Some of those features include reminders, checklists, attachments, labels, and comments.
With all of this in mind, you can easily manage most any project with the Kanban method and Trello. And, since most Trello features are self-explanatory, let’s explore those you may not know about or know how to use more effectively for your project.
1. Connect Cards and Boards
There may be times when it is effective to connect different Trello cards and boards. For instance, you may work with the same team on multiple projects where a quick and easy reference would be convenient. Or, maybe you work with intersecting items where a single task must be completed for more than one project.
In these cases, Trello has a feature where you can connect a card or a board to another card with just three clicks. With the card open, click the Add Card button in the Add Comment window, select either a board or a card, and hit Save.
When that card is viewed, you can click the connected card or board link to go directly to it. This makes referencing other items within Trello fast and simple. Just note that if you use this only for certain team members, they will need access to those items to view them. Alternatively, you can allow members to access the board without an invitation in the board settings.
2. Convert Checklist Items to Cards
With Trello’s checklist feature, you can easily add a list of items to a card. This is helpful for when the card represents a task where several items need to be completed such as subtasks. But what if you discover that one of those items is a task in itself in need of its own card? You do not have to delete the checklist item, go back to the list on the board, add a new card, and insert its mentions. You can simply convert it.
Open the card with the checklist, click the three-dot icon next to the item, and then select Convert to Card. The item will then move from the checklist to its own card in that list. This is ideal when you need it because the item will carry over any mentions of team members and even emojis that you attach.
And remember, if you want that new card on a different list, just use Trello’s drag-and-drop action to move it. Or you can click the Move button under the card Actions to select the new list (or board).
3. Save Time With Email-to-Board
Trello offers a nice feature where you can create a card by sending an email. Each board has a unique email address as does each team member. While it may seem easier to just open Trello and create the card instead, you may want to turn an email you received into a card. To save time, you can simply forward that email to the Trello board and adjust the formatting to create the card.
To obtain your board email address, click Show Menu > More > Email-to-board Settings. You can then copy the address, generate a new one, or have it emailed to you. You can also select the list and position where the new cards should appear.
Here are the basic formatting rules for turning emails into cards:
- Subject line: Card title
- Body of email: Card description
- Attachments: Automatically added to the card
- Email size: Below 10 MB
If you want the card to have a specific label, add #labelname, #labelcolor, or #labelnumber to the subject line.
If you want the card to contain a certain username, add @username to either the subject line or its own line in the body of the email.
For another great time saver, you can also email a note to an existing card. Each card has its own email address as well and your email will show up in the card comment section. To see a card’s email address, open it and click Share and more on the bottom right.
4. Share Boards On-the-Go
You already know that Trello is available on the web. But this handy tool is also available for Android and iOS mobile devices. And since many of us do not leave our work in the office, there may be situations where you need to share a board while on the go.
To share a board from the Trello app, tap the three-dot icon from the top right. Then, tap the sharing icon and choose your method. This lets you quickly send a link to that board to your team member. Depending on your device and sharing settings, you may have a different variety of options than those in the image below.
So, the next time you are waiting at the airport on a business trip, at a coffee shop before heading to work, or sitting on public transit on your way home from the office, you can still take care of business.
5. Check Out Power-Ups
To make your process even more powerful in Trello, you can take advantage of available Power-Ups. These are tools you can incorporate into your boards to maximize them. To view a list of these from your board, click Show Menu from the top right and then choose Power-Ups. You can also visit the Trello Power-Ups web page.
Here are several common Power-Ups and how you can use them for project management.
- Calendar: View due dates in a calendar, change them with a drag-and-drop action, and see finished tasks by marking dates complete.
- GitLab: Attach GitLab merge requests to Trello cards for software development projects and create links between them.
- Jira: Create Jira tickets from Trello cards, link directly to them, and monitor Jira issue statuses from within Trello.
- TeamGantt: View Trello cards as a timeline, include dependencies and resources, and turn projects into Gantt charts.
- Corrello: Manage sprint progress, view historical activity, and use charts and diagrams for bottleneck identification.
Within the menu, just click the information icon next to the Power-Up for more details and hit the Enable button to continue with activation. Note that free accounts provide you with one Power-Up per board, but if you have a paid business account, you can use an unlimited number of them.
What’s Your Favorite Trello Feature?
If you are a current Trello user, then you know that the scope of its features is much bigger than this list of tips. And with more tools, Power-Ups, and integrations being added all the time, it just gets better. And remember, along with business and professional situations, you can use Trello for individual purposes such as home projects, school work, personal goals.
What is your favorite Trello feature? Is it something listed here or a gem you just discovered? Share it with us in the comments below!