Project management got you feeling overwhelmed and disorganized?

Deadlines rapidly approaching? Getting started on a project can seem like a daunting task, and choosing a project management tool can really push you over the edge. Trying and testing all the different tools in the market is a quick way to check yourself and your team into the loony bin. Best believe we’ve been there, you’re not alone!

If you’re ready to commit to a tried-and-true system and regain your sanity and your projects, Trello is here to help. And we’ve the the full 411 on how to maximize usage, organize ALL the things, and get everyone on board.

Trello is a game changer, and at VITALS Agency it is a life saver when it comes to getting sh*t done, and on time. Trello changed everything when we really decided to work it, and make it work for us. This shift didn’t happen overnight, but when we gained momentum and completed our first project from start to finish using Trello, we knew we’d finally met our match.

Scrambling at deadlines, holding unnecessary meetings, and slipping on communication within the team—if this sounds like where you and your team are at with your projects, content strategy, client satisfaction, or meeting management, then keep reading because we are about to save the day.

You probably don’t know it, but Trello is likely the secret behind many well oiled projects of your competitors that seem effortless from concept to completion. If you’re done with endless email chains, balls dropped, communication meltdowns, team and client frustration, and missing pieces, then Trello might just be your knight in shining armor.

Say goodbye to frustration and hello to success.

The Secret to Successful Project Management

Once you have a formula, it is simple to insert the necessary elements and flow with the progression of a project. The first place to start is creating the formula by reverse engineering. If you know what you need to have as a finished project, then you can work backwards and clearly define the major steps that need to take place in order to reach that goal.

Here’s how to create a great system to make your life easier:

  1. Clarity: Get clear on what you need, when you need it, and from whom.
  2. Flow: Organize the flow of priority of tasks so that you go from one deliverable into the next smoothly. If you can’t start something until another thing is complete, chart it all out.
  3. Execution: Delegate the appropriate tasks to the appropriate team members and ensure everyone is clear on the vision and timeline.

Once you’ve got this framework, you can literally just plug in the necessary parts and effectively track everything. And where to do all that? Well, Trello of course!

How to Create a Killer Trello Flow with Lists

First things first: lists. Cards in Trello will help you organize every single step. Identifying those lists will be unique to all, but here are the ones we use as a template for every project. An initial meeting is the best way to get all of this organization in motion, and then you’re off to the races with masterful project management.

  • To Do: This column is where the prioritization begins. Cards that live here have been discussed and agreed upon by all team members as tasks that must be done in the next sprint (feel free to define your own “sprint period”, but usually sprints are no more than a couple weeks). Cards that don’t have a starting point in sight should not live here yet, and should remain in the BACKLOG.

  • Doing / Daily Standup: This is where cards that are actively being worked on live. Tasks that are halfway complete, though they are technically in process should not live here. “Daily Standup” cards for each individual team member could live here as well.

  • QC / On Hold / Blocked: Some cards may never find themselves in this column. If a task requires a “Quality Control” check before client revealing, or if the task is “Blocked” (i.e. items are missing that are required to complete task), then it will live here until the review has occurred or the obstacle has been removed.

  • Done: Completed tasks cross the finish line and live here for all eternity. Yay! This list may be archived monthly depending on the rate with which it fills up. So, you may want to title along the lines of “Done January ‘16” instead of simply “Done”. This avoids a bottomless-scroll-search if you need to refresh yourself for any reason on a completed task. The chronology of this column is: recently completed tasks top, dropping all previous completed tasks lower and lower on the column with each newly completed task.

  • Backlog / Holding Tank: All absolutely-to-be-completed cards live here. Think of this column as an ultimate to do list where all non-prioritized must-do’s live. Cards that might be put into action should not live here. This can also be thought of as a “pre to do” bucket, a task staging area.

  • Resources: This column may have cards with external links inside their descriptions. For example, a “Client X Resources” card could contain links to Google Drive files, or a Dropbox folder for easy access. If your team opts to include internal company tasks, this column could contain internal resources like shipping addresses or even bank card numbers…that is, if you’re comfortable massively compromising your security for the sake of productivity…you certainly won’t be the first nor the last to strategically decide on this type of vulnerability ;-).
Moral of the Story:

Use Trello, avoid frustration, please everyone. Now that you know the secret to project management, don’t forget to reflect on a completed project with a post-mortem. This will keep the energy and momentum flowing for the next. Reflection is key to success. Looking at what went right, what went wrong, and what you definitely want to repeat will keep communication open and everyone on the same page. This ties directly back to project management, and is even something you can build into your Trello board to ensure it gets done.

Happy creating!