How I’am using Trello to keep dev effectively on track

Is Your team Distributed? You got short deliver times? Are you a Startup or having sub-project of 1-30 people? Here is how I hacked Trello to be my “Project-Saver”.

Let’s take an average team structure: Client, Backend, Product

Basic project requirements for success:

1. Simple progress structure

2. Tasks Assigning

3. Time coordinate

4. Keep everyone in loop

5. Minimus Bureaucratic hassle

I have tried different tools on different projects. I got the conclusion that in the end of the day having a Kanban board structure is very simple and efficient to boost productivity of small-mid dev teams .

However you still need to do several ‘hacks’ for your Kanban in order to squeeze good productivity results.

I will demonstrate each of the steps above by adding an issue and how I hack the solution.

Why Trello?

Keep it simple is my golden rule and thats What I liked in Trello. It provides an outstanding simplicity.

This is not a Kanban’s tools over-view post so ill just jump right to my favorite tool and demonstrate how I executed my targets using it.

1.  Simple progress structure:

Since we choosing the Kanban’s way it’s very easy to divide your board into 3-4 columns (dont add more than that else you might get it out of control)

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 10.45.21 AM

Backlog is my “To-Do” list. but dont abuse it. make sure you actually planning to do those items. maintain and keep it thin. The rest is pretty trivial.

Issue: Our team structure contains 3+ small teams. Maintaining the tasks of all teams on the same board will quickly overload and mix it - focus will be lost.

Hack: Create separate board for each team (e.g Client,Backend,Devops, Product). On Trello you can share cards between boards (for cross-team assignments).

This way you’ll be able to focus each team on it’s dedicated board which containing the relevant items. Additionally, switching between boards in Trello is very easy and   will enable you to keep the team progress view very simple.

2. Tasks Assigning:

Each team member must be assigned to one task at a time. Make sure you never forget that. You achieve two things:

1. Each team-member is focused and know exactly what to do.

2. Its very easy from a bird’s eye view to understand what your colleges do. The fact that you know if you cross someone’s task will boost productivity (gather requirements) and self-aware.

issue: What if more than one person is assigned to do the same task?

hack: Split the item into two or more (assign each team-member) and detail each item with relevant sub-tasks. Using Trello you can define subtasks using checklists:

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 11.16.17 AM

3. Time coordinate:

This one is very important. Make sure every task has ETA. Dont have tasks hanging without time estimation. It will keep you and your team focused. This one is a bit tricky since you need to understand ETA’S quickly. During time team will adopt and get used to it.

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 8.01.07 PM

issue: What if we cant estimate the ETA quickly enough? (Shall we create item to define Item’s ETA’s?:) )

hack: If you struggling to ETA your task you probably assigned wider task for ‘eta’ing. This would be red alert. the whole point is to assign small tasks. If you or your team member cannot give ETA quickly enough you must re-think about the task and probably re-define or split it.

4. Keep everyone in loop:

If you follow the previous steps you get this one ‘on the house’. Since all members assigned to tasks with their ETA’S it’s very easy to check each other status and understand your current release status.

issue: What if two members not on the same board? will be annoying to switch between boards.

hack: Short daily’s having Trello infront will keep everyone updated. Since each team member is assigned to one task with eta it’s very easy to quick brief everyone’s status.

5. Minimus Bureaucratic hassle

Thats the main point. We as develop team like get things done by go straight to work(probably code). However we still need to maintain minimal “progress-bar”.

Trello gives you the ability to quickly update your status and start working. Discipline is still required but we surely minimize the hassle around it.

Happy productivity,

Idan.

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