About the talk

Brittany shares best practices, what mistakes to avoid to make sure you get the most out of Trello as a project manager.

You will learn specific boards, power-ups, and features that are most helpful to Project Managers and how to use it all to improve your projects and give yourself more time back.

Watch the talk 👇

"Simplified tools, Trello is free, and many of the features are useful, so I think it could save you a lot of money!" - Brittany Joiner

About Brittany Joiner

Brittany Joiner is a self-proclaimed Trello nerd who loves solving productivity challenges with Trello.

With a background in marketing and currently working full time as a software engineer, she has a lot of experience working with projects and productivity challenges across various parts of organizations. When she's not building apps, you'll find her exploring and teaching how to use Trello and improve organizational workflows.

She's also been voted #1 Trello fan and most likely to get a Trello tattoo.


This is a transcript of the original talk by Brittany Joiner at PM72 Summit organized by Jexo. 👉 Learn more about PM72 Summit: 72-hour Project Management Conference.

Hello everybody!

My name is Brittany Joiner and I am so excited to be part of
the PM72 conference.

This is amazing, I've been so excited for this event and to see it happen. So I'm excited you're here today and I'm excited we're going to talk about my favorite tool which is Trello and how it is applicable to you, project managers.

To get started, I just want to tell you a little bit more about myself.
My name is Brittany Joiner and I've been using Trello since about 2011.

I'm a big fan of it. I discovered it when I was working in a marketing agency and we were using it to keep track of all the different tasks we had for our clients. Since then, I've been using it for my own projects, companies that I've been working with, side projects, and about anything that I can think of.

Full-time I'm a software engineer at Elastic. But in my free time, you'll see me talking about Trello and productivity on my YouTube channel and my newsletter, and doing stuff like this, giving different talks, trying to help people learn about cool tools that can make their life a little easier and simpler.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @britt_joiner if you ever want to reach out and talk about Trello productivity or about anything else. Feel free to reach out to me.

I keep talking about this Trello thing. But you may not know what Trello is, so let's dive in and talk about Trello. I'll start by giving you a brief overview of what exactly Trello is, and what it does.

It's a digital whiteboard with supercharged sticky notes. What I mean, it's a project management tool, the concept of it is that there is a board that has cards, which are specific items and elements that you organize tasks or contacts with. And you group those into lists on your board.

This will all make sense in a minute - we're going to go through this in more detail. Then, I'm going to spend the majority of this presentation going through a demo and showing you the ins and outs of Trello and how to use it, and what you can do with it.

It's a cool tool and it's trusted by a lot of big and small companies. There are a lot of different use cases for it and ways that people are using it to organize their teams and get business done. Let's talk a little bit more in detail about it now, what can you do with this digital whiteboard.

First of all, you can access it from anywhere: from your phone, your desktop, or any browser, you can even access it offline.

I've been using it on my phone or my iPad, while I'm at the airport, or on an airplane, and jot down different ideas that come to mind. And later on, I'm able to sort through them and see them across all of my boards.

You can control access to your boards. For instance, you can make sure whatever information you have is either publicly available to everyone in the world or available to people on your team, or even just private only to you, or people you specifically invite to your board.

Another key component of this digital whiteboard is using these lists that you can organize, sticky notes, which we'll get to in a second. And think of it like if you had a physical in-person whiteboard.

You'd probably be doing something similar categorizing the sticky notes on your board and grouping them in different sections and moving them through. That's how we use lists in Trello.

And lastly, your board is powerful because it helps you view all of the information that you have in those cards at a mile-high sort of view.

You're able to see a dashboard of different stats, you can see a timeline or calendar of how all of your items work together, and you can even view them on a map if you add location data to the cards.

So let's talk now more about zooming in on what these supercharged sticky notes are and what they do. What they are you see a picture here and we're going to go into more detail in the demo part in a minute.

These are the supercharged sticky notes that are just like sticky notes you'd use on your whiteboard at home. Pick them up and drag them around and move them.

But rather than just having a note on them or even being a certain type of color, you can customize these a lot more: you can add specific members to it. And that controls who gets notifications about what's happening on them or how they show up in different reports.

You can assign labels to it to help categorize either the status of a task, the department it's affiliated with, or the project it's with. They're completely customizable. You can add subtasks with a checklist, you can add start and due dates, and you can attach different files, links, images, other Trello boards, and cards.

You can even add location data if you want to be able to visualize your cards in a map view. And if none of these work, then you can even add custom fields to add just about anything else you might want to these cards. It's a really handy tool and that's kind of your mile-high overview of it.

But we're not here just to talk about Trello, we're here for project managers. And I don't work for Trello, I'm not here to sell you Trello. I just think it's a great tool and I think it's something that's helped me and a lot of other people and maybe it could help you.

Reasons why project managers might be interested in Trello

First of all, it has a free plan and it's very easy to get started.

There's no complicated learning, you don't have to go through all sorts of training just to get up and running. You can create your account for free and demo a lot of the features for free. You don't even need a paid plan. There's a lot of value in the free plan of Trello. You don't have to invest in a large tool and learn it before you can start seeing value from it.

Secondly, it's a very versatile tool, you can do just about whatever you want with it.

I like to explain it as Lego: you can do whatever you want with Lego: build a Hogwarts castle or a race car or whatever you want to build with it. Sometimes you need a guide to help you know where the pieces go. But it's completely customizable, and if you can use it for one use case, you can use it for another. And it fits a lot of different things so it's a handy tool in that sense.

And lastly, it's a trusted tool with lots of integrations.

There are lots of different companies that you're probably already working with, and different tools that integrate with Trello. So that it can be a seamless experience to embed in your workflows. And there is an engaged community.

If you ever need help setting something up or have questions, there's a lot of content out there and plenty of people willing to help, answer questions, give you more ideas, and solve your problems.

Without further ado, let's jump in and look at this tool, shall we?

I've got this board, I put together for this talk. Let's say, I'm about to do a product launch for an airport tracking app. It lets people track what airport they've been in. If you're a travel nerd like me and enjoy that sort of thing.

It's your basic project setup here and this is a format for a board.
To create your own board, you click to create a board and specify the team you want it to be on.

The team and workspace are synonymous. It's Trello's way of organizing paid plans versus free plans. It is the group of people you're using Trello with. You set visibility defaults to the workspace, so anybody on that team can see it.

You can double opt-in to make it public so don't worry about accidentally doing that. It's fine leaving it to the default settings of the workspace. If you're the only one in the workspace, that's the same thing as private.

Or you can start with a template. If you're new to Trello, you may not have any templates yet. There are also recommended templates from other users and you can explore them. You can see boards that people have created, different ways they're using Trello, and get some inspiration.

Since project management is one of the key use cases for Trello, there's a whole section of templates for project managers using Trello.
If you need some inspiration and you're only getting started, in the next couple of minutes, I'll show you a useful workflow.

Now that we know how to create a board, you want to create a list. Type the name of the list and drag it around wherever you want. And the same with adding a card - type a title, and it creates a card.

Within that card, you have all the powers that you would want. You can add members to a card from other people on this board. If you want to add more people, create and share the link. You can send it over email, slack and it's a public link for people to join the board. You can invite them with their email address, and that's a good way to get some collaboration.

Adding members is a good way to keep track of who's doing what. You can use labels to organize the status of a project or a category and set up a board where each list is a different department that might be involved in a project you're managing.

You could name these lists anything you want, statuses: to do, doing, and done, instead of using the labels as a status. You could use labels to define which team they're associated with or, if you have multiple projects running at once and you want them all on the same board. You could also keep them all in one board and have the labels or the lists explain which projects they're with.

So Trello is like a box of legos: if you want help figuring out exactly what you want to build with it, you might want to get a blueprint. But at the end of the day, the world's your oyster and you can build it how you want. I recommend playing around with a couple of things.

It's fine to play around with what you can do within a card: you can add a checklist that is a list of subtasks. One of the things I like is when you check something off it shows your progress so you can percent of the task done.

You can check items to see what you still got to do. I like leaving them up to see I made some progress.

Another thing you can do is add dates. We have start and due dates. Your start date is the beginning and your due date is when you'd like that to be done. You can specify when you'd like reminders about that, and it will remind anybody who's a member of the card and they will get notifications. That's also helpful for viewing your tasks in a timeline view.

For instance, you have a couple of different views of your board, and the timeline is one way of viewing your cards by start and due date. It puts them in the list that they're in so you can see how your cards are organized by the list.

Let's say, you want these two to happen at the same time, you move that card and it will update that card's due date. You can drag and drop it to another week, and it will update those due dates accordingly. This makes planning easy, and you can view it by month, day, week. You can also organize these on the side by label or by member if you want to see how work is pacing.

You could view it in a normal timeline - the calendar view does exactly what it sounds like. It lets you visualize that workflow in a calendar view. That's why the due dates are important and helpful.

You can also attach things to your cards. So this is helpful because you can't do everything in Trello unfortunately. While it's great for a lot of things, there are some things you still might collaborate in a Google Doc for. And you can link that Google Doc over in here.

If you have images saved on Dropbox, you can bring those over here. You can have all the assets you need for a project all in one place.

You can also link other Trello cards and other Trello boards.
For instance, this task is actually dependent on this task. What you can do is can copy the URL of that card. And then paste it and get a mini view of this card. It's a good way to keep track of related tasks. And they don't even have to be in the same board. You can link to this card that's in another board.

I mentioned the locations where you can view your cards in a map view. And all you need to do is add an actual address on here. Let's try to find the Space Needle loop in Seattle, Washington. Now, if I click board and click this map view, you can see all your cards by their location. It's a nice way to visualize size. If you're working on launching some locations of a franchise or something like that.

And then, within these cards, I can add another field in here that I don't see. You can use custom fields and make your own field.Make a date field, a text field, checkbox number, or any other format you want it to be.

If you want to keep track of story points, you can create your field here and make it story points. If you check the show field in front of a card, then it's actually going to show it on the card. Create a field, assign it to Value. And now, it shows here in the story points. You don't have to click into it to see that.

These are the ins and outs of Trello, the workflow of the how to, of how it all looks and works. This board lets me have my zoomed out view. I can see mile-high, what's going on, what's in flight, what all are doing.

I can also zoom in to be able to see the specifics I need about any task. Clicking into a card, you see all the files, subtasks, any related cards, location, or any other data associated with it.

Another thing you can do with cards is use them to kind of style your board and make it easier to read for others. For instance, this is a text card and I added a cover. You can organize the covers to have different sections in your board, provide different information. You can also apply automation.

For instance, any time I add a card, it automatically assigns a label called Not Started. And I use Trello automation to do that. You can automate a lot of actions that you find in your automation section.

Another great thing about your views on this board is the filter views. This is why it's important to assign people or labels.

Let's say it's end of the week and I want to see what I've accomplished this week. I can see cards assigned to me with the label Done. You can add automation so that when you add done, Not Started goes away.

You can remove the members. If you need to report what actually move forward in this project this week. You can also see what you have left to do. It's a great way to organize your workflows.

You can also customize other pieces of your board.
If you go over to settings, you can change your background to any color, photo, or custom photo.

You can also take your board to the next level with Power-Ups.
These are third-party integrations that you can incorporate with your Trello board.
If you're using some other tools, e.g. Jira or GitHub, you can use integrations to sync that data back and forth. Unito has a bunch of different ones. It's a great way to mirror data.

For instance, your engineering team works in GitHub, but you want to work in Trello. You can use Unito to set up syncs between those tools. When something happens in GitHub, it actually updates over here in Trello. When I create a new issue on GitHub, it will create a new card over here and it sinks over all the same data. And you can set that up with Unito pretty easily.

There's a section of project management power-ups that will help your Trello boards be even better. It'll unlock more features, such as Gantt charts, time-tracking, burndown charts, or additional reporting. This is a great place to be able to do that.

Speaking of reporting, your dashboard view of the board lets you visualize how your cards are grouped in terms of labels, how many cards are in each list, when they're due, and the number of cards per member.

So, it's a great way to be able to report back on your project.Yet, power-ups let you do even more advanced reporting than this.

And one last thing, if you manage multiple projects, you can put them all on one board. If you want to add a board, copy the link and then paste to have a little thumbnail of the board. You click it, it goes straight to the board.

So you can have only one board with all your boards, or you use Unito and have all the cards sync from all individual boards into one main board.

If you're trying to see everything at a high-level view and bring all the cards together from the same workspace, use the Workspace table tool. It lets you select all boards that you want to see tasks in, and there, you can use similar filters to the ones on the board.

For instance, you need to see what is due this week. You can look across all your boards, see cards assigned to me due in the next week, and get a to-do list for the week.

You know exactly what you're doing and when it needs to happen.To go and update something on those cards, click in onto them and add any specific notes.

I'm going to wrap it up here, but if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Like I said, love towns, nerd out about productivity and Trello.

Visit Brittany Joiner's Website