049: Trello for projects of all sizes with Natalie Gingrich

This conversation, with Natalie Gingrich has a Trello heavy focus because Nat is a project manager and her clients hire her to help them accomplish their projects– and Trello is a fantastic tool for project management… when setup right and adopted by all parties, as we’ll get into in the episode.

Nat describes herself as not doing the tech or being behind the tech, she is 100% over the tech. It’s truly a great way to look at her role – she’s staying in her lane and driving the projects as they need to be driven without getting into the weeds.

The primary tool that Nat uses in her business is, like I said before, Trello – and she uses it not only for project management but also with her team for communication. She uses the alerts function inside Trello to see where people are communicating. The team structure and SOP is that you tag someone when you need to connect with them, and you follow cards or boards when you need to be
kept apprised of the going-ons. Nat loves Trello because it’s visual and beautiful. It’s inviting for her to spend time in thetool.

Dissecting Trello

A Board: The container – can be used for one idea, one thought or one project. This is a named entity, so that you can easily find this board among all the other boards in your Trello account. Our sample board is : Podcast

A Column: Another container that contains a theme of the overall board. Each column will have headings. For our sample this might be : Logistics

A Card: An individual container for a single aspect or thought or requirement for the theme of the column that resides in the overall board. And each card will have the aspect that needs to be addressed. For the sample it will be things like : Podcast Name, Podcast Host, etc.

Trello comes from the Kanban Method, which is a process developed by engineers at Toyota way back in the day when they were going from design to production. The Trello engineers were using sticky notes on a wall under the headings of “What do we need to do”, “What is being done” and “What is being completed.” And those smart engineers saw this as something that could be translated to the screen and help many other businesses with workflows and processes.

Learn more about the KANBAN METHOD

Let’s get super practical… your first step with a new project is likely going to be a brainstorming session – where all the thoughts end up on sticky notes (either the real paper kind or a single column in Trello) and then we’re going to try to clean it up.

The first clean up step is to categorize things into LIKE…whether it’s like steps or phase – remember, you get to choose how you will put this Trello board together.

Throughout the episode, Nat and I have been building a Trello board for a podcast launch… so let’s get back to that.

Our cards are in nice, well labelled columns.

For the work to be done, we will assign a card to an individual on the team and give that card a due date. The project manager (or task assigner) can write additional notes. Within each card, team members can communicate back and forth. And, if there is an asset that is created within the constructs of this task, that file can be inserted directly onto the card – or linked out to a cloud storage repository where the file is uploaded.)

Once the work on that card is done, we’ll move it to another column that contains all the completed tasks. Nat suggests Completed or Done and then goes on to say or you could call that column something creative like Celebrate! We’re done with this! This column shows us what has been

There is also the ability to archive a card – this is particularly useful for something that turns out to not be relevant to the project. If work has been done and it’s complete, it’s far better to have a column that contains the completed card rather than throwing the card into the archive abyss.

Here’s a Nat HACK – If she cannot see all the cards in a column on her big monitor, she’ll compartmentalize a bit further so that she can!

Continuing with our example… we’ve got the podcast launched and now we need to create our episodes – in Trello you can actually copy a card or a column from one board to another. So, we could copy our entire branding column from the pre-launch board to our active podcast production board. Nat terms this as a workflow board more than a project board, as it’s something we’re going to repeat episode after episode for the duration of the podcast.

“Your board for getting the project started could look vastly different than the board that represents the workflow for getting subsequent content released”

Within the workflow board, Natalie recommends keeping everything pertinent to that entity within the card… and she even went on to share how easily Trello can integrate with other online tools, like Dropbox.

Of course, this put me on a well-loved tangent – integration between components. I call it “adding pointers between entities.” A project management tool is the perfect hub for containing these pointers because it helps you run an efficient business!

Trello has the ability to work for projects and workflows in a lot of businesses and in your personal life! I asked Nat to get super concrete to help you see opportunities where Trello might be a good option.

Nat used to rely on linear functionality – to do lists, checklists and such, but the aesthetics of Trello opened her up to trying it… and she tried it first in her personal life. Once she got that board working well, she didn’t have to go back and re-work it – she actually still uses that same board!

The personal board consists of housework, store returns, things that needed doing, household projects, calls to make, errands and computer tasks.

She also uses Trello as her planner. She looks at it each evening as she wraps up her day. Because she knows when she can schedule personal time, she then is able to move cards from their column to the today column. From there, she’ll be productive in her personal work block and be able to move those cards to the complete column and make room for new today tasks!

Let’s extrapolate out beyond the single board. Natalie rounds out the conversation explaining that she can easily see what is assigned and actively being worked on by her team members, because of the  expectation of everything having assigned team members and due dates.

Want to see how Natalie gets things going in Trello for her clients, go to https://nataliegingrich.com/productiveweek/ which is a fantastic tutorial!

And finally, it wouldn’t be a complete Trello conversation without talking about the Trello app… Nat and I are both moms of gymnasts (and she adds complexity because her son is also an athlete). She uses the app extensively while waiting at practice, and it does everything she wants and needs, except that she cannot copy a link from one card and paste it on another. And because she is generally on her phone as she is transitioning from the work day to the mom day, that personal board gets a lot of use on her phone!

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