Technology

Work Smarter With Trello

I’ve spent a lot of time looking for low cost (okay, free) software for managing projects in both my professional and personal life. These projects range from digital library collections, a literary journal, and a wedding. Some software, like Sharepoint, I’ve had to use. While other software, such as Google Sites, I return to because they are easy to use and I’m familiar with them. Out of the services I’ve tested, Trello is the one that works best for me, though Asana seemed very promising.

Simplicity and Flexibility

The key to Trello is the interface. For each project or process you can create a board. For example, if you are managing a lab full of students, you may create a board for your lab, which you can use to add tasks and assign students to tasks. For a collaborative, digital humanities project, you may create a board where everyone can log their collective work. Trello doesn’t have to be used in a professional context though. It could be used in the classroom as students work on projects throughout the semester.

Each board or project starts out with three lists by default. These lists are titled To Do, Doing, and Done. You can write tasks down on cards; then drag and drop them between lists. If those headings don’t work for you conceptually, then create your own. Additionally, create as many as you want.

Another reason I love Trello is that I can sign in with my Google Account. Frankly, I’m sick of having an ever growing number of digital accounts. Being able to use my Google Account makes it all so much easier.

Collaborative

Each board/project can have multiple members added. Members can then be assigned tasks, can create their own tasks, vote on topics, etc. A notification system is built in so that a member will get an email if they’ve been assigned a task.

Activity Stream

On the back of cards, users can comment on the work and have a discussion. Also, files may be attached to cards, due dates can be assigned, checklists can be added and users can vote. All of this happens in real time. Once a card has been moved, it’s updated for everyone.

Pro’s

Trello is free, available online, and easy to use.

Con’s

Trello does not have a business model yet, so fees could come in the future. The software is not downloadable, so users have to be connected to the Internet to use it. While the service is extremely flexible and simple, some users may be uncertain how to best use it.

From the Company

Timothy A. Lepczyk

Tim is an instructional technologist and former librarian. On the side, he writes fiction and poetry, and publishes the magazine Scintilla. You can follow him on Twitter at @thirdcoast.

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