There are a lot of options to choose from when deciding on a project management platform for your internal team, and each has its own merits. For client-facing project management, that decision is much easier: Trello.
A career in Project Management can, at times, make you want to pull your hair out. I don’t have that problem anymore. Mostly because I started balding at an early age and have been shaving my head since, but also because I found Trello.
I now use Trello for my own personal to-do list, my professional priority organization and follow up tracking, and for all of my client-facing project management. Why you ask? I’d be happy to explain with some “itys”:
But First, What Is Trello?
Trello is essentially a digital representation combination of the classic corkboard and sticky notes. Even the “board” terminology has been carried over to Trello Boards, which provide the enclosing framework for a given project or to-do list. Instead of sticky notes, you have Trello Cards.
The digital corkboard that encompasses the notes and related functions of a given project.
The digital sticky note and all the related details that might be included in that note.
Each board is made of columns, which include a header that denotes the organizing principle of the related cards within it. Columns are the principal organizing method of Trello Boards
Tags can be applied to any Card, to provide additional context to the contents or status of that card.
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of what Trello includes for organizing information, let’s move on to what makes it the best client-facing project management system out there.
First and foremost, Trello is an incredibly intuitive platform. With a properly set up Trello board, a new user can figure out most of the basic functions without any instruction just by poking around for a bit. With just a little guidance, it becomes even easier to pick up.
This intuitive, easy-to-use interface is what immediately sets Trello apart from every other platform. Other platforms may offer more complex and robust native functionality. However, the time it takes to learn how to use the platforms can be a major hindrance in getting clients to adopt them. Trello is so friendly to use that adopting it becomes a welcomed simplification of project objectives rather than a complicated extra step.
I can’t stress enough how important usability is for client adoption of software. They’ve hired you to simplify their lives, not complicate them. The Trello interface is so easy to pick up that they’ll literally be thanking you for it.
Thanks to the simple but effective organizational approach that Trello takes as a software platform, the possibilities of how the Project Manager can define their project are incredibly flexible.
Trello allows complete customization of Column headers and Card Tags, which are the primary ways to organize your project.
One of the simplest and most common ways to organize a Trello Board would be to include the following Columns:
Once you’ve defined your columns for the top-level organization, Cards are where most of the action happens.
Tags can be added to Cards for an additional layer of classification that can be applied in a broad number of ways. Some common Tags include:
Some other optional out-of-the-box and nice to have functions that come with Trello:
- Assigning a person/people to a card
- Assigning a due date for a card
- Comments and attachments related to the card
You could repurpose or expand on these options to a seemingly infinite number of Columns or Tags, which is up to you! The possibilities of how to organize your Board are so open-ended that it can be both a blessing and a curse. However, with a little planning, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. So it’s up to us as Project Managers to create an information architecture that is easy for our clients to understand.
One of my favorite reasons for using Trello is that it allows me to create visibility and transparency on a project’s progress.
As long as I stay on top of updating the Board as a Project Manager, my clients always know where things are at and what I need them to do next to keep things moving.
Part of this visibility is so that I can keep clients focused on what’s important to them, and not bogged down with a lot of additional details that are only pertinent to my internal team. In my experience, most teams will use a more complex and robust platform for internal project management, but inviting clients into that environment becomes messy and driving adoption becomes difficult.
Clients may also have their own internal project management platforms that they wish to use. One of the more burdensome aspects of Project Management can be if you get roped into using an unfamiliar Project Management platform and have to learn all of the ins-and-outs of their way of doing things in order to function properly in that role.
Using Trello, thanks to the previously mentioned usability, creates a centralized location for all pertinent project information to be stored. Your team can [optionally] take the information into your native platform, the client can [optionally] take it to theirs, but Trello remains the visible source of truth to everyone involved.
While this might not be high on the list for larger companies, a lot of us wouldn’t mind saving some cash compared to other tech offerings out there. When it comes to Project Management software pricing, Trello simply can’t be beat.
Trello has a FREE (yes, you read that correctly) offer that allows you up to 10 Boards (read: concurrent projects or retainers).
That’s what I’m currently using with Remotish since we run fewer than 10 LaunchPad clients at a time (note: while I’ve referred to myself as a Project Manager since that’s mostly my client-facing role with Remotish, my official title at the time of this writing is Sr. Digital Project Strategist since I also work on architecting our HubSpot onboarding program that we call the HubSpot RevOps LaunchPad -- sorry for the caps-case.).
At the time of this writing (November 2020), for Trello’s generous upgrade rates of $9.99/user/month for Business Class and $17.50/user/month for Enterprise, there really isn’t a comparable platform out there. If you’d like to check out the additional automation and “power-ups” (aka plugins/integrations), check out their pricing page at https://trello.com/en/pricing
Disclaimer: They actually didn’t pay me anything to write this article, I just love their platform enough to feel like it was worth writing about as my first-ever monthly Remotish blog article!
How does Remotish handle client-facing project management via Trello?
If you’re interested in learning more about how we use Trello for HubSpot onboarding project management and Revenue Operations retainers, I’d be happy to talk through it and provide specific examples! Please use our consultation form and request Kevin.
If you’re a fellow Project Manager who would like to trade tips, hit me on LinkedIn and let’s chat!