After working with Daylite (my review of Daylite) and writing about OmniFocus not quite cutting it for business management, I’ve decided that Trello is my next stop.

After a few days of using it here are some initial thoughts.

Wide Open is a blocker

One of the best features of Trello is also a blocker to people starting out with it. Trello is wide open, you can build any workflow you want with it. When you’re starting though, where on earth do you start.

I had seen Trello many times before and just had no idea where I’d start with it. I spent a morning watching workflows for many different business types and even got a tour from @markpoppen about how he’s using it.

Only after all this upfront work did I actually feel that it was a system I understood enough to give a fair shake. If there is one thing I could tell Fog Creek it would be to have an option to populate a few different workflow types along with some videos about how to use it.

Web Apps aren’t all their cracked up to be

Trello is a web application. Yes that means that you can access it from any computer, but that also means you don’t have system wide keyboard shortcuts. If I want to send an email to OmniFocus I press ⇧ ⌘ Y and OmniFocus pops up with a link to the email and any text I have highlighted in the email. Getting the same thing in to Trello means copy/paste on the text. Copy/paste a link to the specific email. Then I can get it in to a card on the project. It just takes longer and time wasted is time you’re not billing.

Business Model

You know I’m keen on making sure that anything I’m using for crucial business process, has a business model itself. Well no one is charging for use of Trello. I am using it because Fog Creek has gone on record that what you’re using in Trello now will always be free. Fog Creek has a number of other sources of revenue and is well known. I’m willing to give this a pass based solely on their reputation.

So those are some initial thoughts on Trello. Watch for a full long review in about a month when I’ve really tried to put Trello through the paces of organizing my business.

4 responses to “Trello Initial Thoughts”

  1. Wes Koop Avatar

    We’ve used it since our inception, it’s been critical in replacing a whiteboard — a high level view of the company, clients, hosting, bills. It’s been good.

    I share the same concerns on the business model, and also gave it a pss because of Fog Creek. I’ve been recommended other “free” systems, but can’t find the reason to jump.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I think it’s going to work for my Sales Channel and maybe for detailed projects with a bunch of things. I’m not sure how it will work for basic things. And I’m not sure how I’m going to relate different boards representing different projects to my overall schedule. The best idea so far is to have an ‘overall’ board with all my current projects on it and a few columns for stages.

      We shall see what happens. I’m sure I’ll end up writing about it.

  2. Aras Avatar

    We have been using trello for a few months now. I like the minimalistic approach of trello, which allow us to build and evolve our own workflow. But trello actually is not as flexible as it seems at first. For example, one thing I often have to do, which I dont like to, is to delete items from a checklist inside one card and then add them again in another checklist in another card. This happens when I start to break a taksk down and realize that it is actually towo or three different things and want to seperate them more.

    I like the shortcut keys even though there are no global keys. You can see them by pressing ?. We also use a agile chrome plugin for trello that allows us to put time estimates (as story points) inside the header.

    Trello is certainly much better than some of the other agile or other workflow management tools I have used. But I have to say I am not completely satisfied with it.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I don’t think that any system will totally satisfy. It will just be the solution with the least amount of issues for your workflow.

      I didn’t know about the key commands, very cool.