A few days ago I was trying to find a simple system in which to log and track my bugs.
I came across Trello. ‘Free’ and ‘simple to use’ were the main key words that sprang immediately to my attention.
Trello is a web-based software tool that uses a ‘kanban’ approach to help you organise your projects. In this context, Kanban (pronounced “kahn-bahn”) is a system that has information on different “cards” and then organises them on a “board”. You can imagine it like a bulletin board with columns of index cards tacked to it. Each column represents a different stage in a process and each card represents an individual item that you’re working on. As you make progress on a card, you move it across the board. This lets you see the status of everything you’re working on with just a quick glimpse at the board.
I’m not going to try and make this a ‘how to use Trello’ post because there’s no shortage of information out there about that.
There isn’t even much to understand about it:• You get boards
• On each board is a set of lists
• On those lists you can add cards
• Check-lists, notes, links, photos, images and files can be attached to the cards(up to 250mb if you are using the free version)
• Cards can be assigned to team members(if you have any!), given due dates, colour coded and tagged, and dragged from list to list or moved from board to board.
• If you have team members, they can comment on, subscribe to, or vote on cards.
Cards are the incredibly versatile building blocks of the system in Trello, and they are the key to making it work for you.
Business and Project Management System
I started to set up my board(s) as just a bug tracker, but then released that I could use Trello as my whole Business and Project Management System.
My previous project management system was to write a ‘to do list for tomorrow’ on a scrap of paper at the end of the day and leave it by my desk, which normally would then get lost or eaten by the dog by the next morning!
I needed a good way to organise myself, and my whole way of working, and keeping track of the various things an indie developer needs to keep track of, for example bug tracking, marketing, various stages of projects, advertising, monetisation etc.
I soon had 5 ‘Boards’ across 2 ‘Organisations’. Organisations are a way to group relevant Boards to together.
With the colour coded labels you can add to the cards, I had a quick way to glance at my whole ‘organisation’ to see what was needed to be done.
I had 4 Boards set up for general items, like Current Apps, Marketing, Learning and Development, and Monetisation, another in depth board for my current project.
As you can add attachment to cards, when I had an email through that i need to to action I could attach that to the relevant card, set a the label to Red for example to indicate that this need to be actioned Urgently and set a due date for when it needs to be complete. You can also use iCalendar to sync to your desktop calendar(not sure if you can use this in a windows environment).
As a bug tracker you can add screenshots, code snippets to help you remember the bugs. You can create template cards so that you can just use copy those and use them over and over again. As an example, you can see my current project board here.
As cards are so versatile if you have sudden thought or idea you can just use a new card or set a comment on the relevant card so that you do not forget.
As this is still new for me I aim to update my blog to let you know how I am getting on with Trello and whether it has indeed help me organise myself. At the moment it is a big thumbs up from me!