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Trello, a cloud-based tool that uses the Kanban method of project management. With Trello, users can visually organize projects into boards, divide projects into groups, and subdivide groups into tasks.
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RESOURCE REVIEW
DOI: dx.doi.org/
10.5195/jmla.2016.49
jmla.mlanet.org
105 (2) April 2017 Journal of the Medical Library Association
209
Trello. Trello, 55 Broadway, Suite
25, New York, NY, 10006-3008;
http://www.trello.com; basic op-
tion, free; Business Class option,
$9.99 per user per month; Enter-
prise option, $20.83 per user per
month.
INTRODUCTION
As libraries continue to evolve in
the services that they provide, li-
brarians may be increasingly re-
sponsible for managing large
projects, planning programs and
outreach, and coordinating teams.
While some projects can be easily
executed by a single person, others
may involve a team and several
moving parts. In the latter case, a
project leader may be responsible
for developing a project plan, es-
tablishing a timeline, recruiting
team members, assigning tasks,
managing progress, and apprising
sponsors and upper management
of the project’s progress.
Managing projects and teams
can sometimes seem overwhelm-
ing. Fortunately, there are several
free project management solutions
to assist project leaders in manag-
ing their workflow. One of those
solutions is Trello, a cloud-based
tool that uses the Kanban method
of project management. Under the
Kanban method, all project-related
activities are displayed in a single
landscape that is viewable to all
members of the project team. With
Trello, users can visually organize
projects into boards, divide projects
into groups, and subdivide groups
into tasks. Trello’s user-friendly
interface makes it ideal for a wide
variety of users, from individuals
managing personal projects such as
home renovations to organizations
managing multiple large projects
and teams. To meet users’ needs,
Trello offers various levels of ser-
vice at different price points. This
review focuses on the free version.
MAJOR FEATURES
Trello requires only an Internet
connection, eliminating the need
for users to install software or enter
product keys. Registered users can
create an unlimited number of
boards and designate one board
per project. Users can then assign
multiple task groups (lists) to each
board and assign subgroups (cards)
to each list. Users can create cards
by either adding them manually or
copying and pasting existing text
lists from Microsoft Word or Excel.
With the latter method, users have
the option to create a card for every
line of text or create a single card
with multiple lines of text. Cards
can be further granulized with to-
do lists, which appear only when
cards are expanded. Users can also
upload attachments and add com-
ments to expanded cards.
Once users have created lists,
they can easily recreate that list and
reorder multiple lists. For example,
my library recently organized a
seven-part seminar series compris-
ing seven topics and identical task
lists for each topic. To facilitate the
organization of this board, we cre-
ated one list and designated four
cards, and then copied the list and
its cards six times, changing only
the list name each time. Once we
assigned dates to each seminar, we
reordered the lists sequentially us-
ing the platform’s drag-and-drop
feature (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Sample Trello lists and cards
210 Review
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2016.49
Journal of the Medical Library Association 105 (2) April 2017 jmla.mlanet.org
Users can easily coordinate
teams and assign cards to team
members (board members) by
sending invitation emails directly
from the project board. Once a
board member has been assigned a
card, the card will reflect the desig-
nation, and the board member’s
initials will appear on the card.
Board members do not need a
Trello account to view boards, but
those who create an account will
benefit from greater functionality
and will receive alerts pertaining to
their cards. Users who work con-
sistently with the same group of
people can create teams and elimi-
nate the need to add board mem-
bers individually.
To facilitate the timely comple-
tion of tasks, users assign due dates
to cards. Once users have assigned
due dates, they and their board
members can integrate the board
into Gmail or Outlook using the
Power-Ups feature. To integrate
Trello boards into Outlook, users
should follow these steps: Open
Outlook (client or web version)
Click the calendar tab Select
Open calendar” SelectFrom
Internet” Enter the personal
iCalendar feed uniform resource
locator (URL) that is generated by
Trello. Instructions for integrating
with Gmail can be found in Trello’s
FAQs. In both Gmail and Outlook,
Trello calendars will appear as new
calendars, which can be turned on
or off as desired. Trello tasks will
not appear in default user calen-
dars.
Because Trello is a visual tool,
it allows users to classify cards by
assigning color-coded labels that
can be further customized with
words to designate statuses such as
“complete” or “on hold.” For users
with color blindness, Trello offers
patterned rather than solid-colored
labels, which can be customized
with status words as well. These
color-coded labels offer the most
efficient way of marking tasks as
complete.
Finally, Trello offers two addi-
tional standard Power-Ups: Voting
and Card Aging. The Voting fea-
ture allows users to “like” a partic-
ular card, and the Card Aging
feature alerts users when cards
have been inactive for a period of
time. As weeks pass (one, two, and
four weeks), cards become increas-
ingly transparent.
SHORTCOMINGS
The most substantial shortcoming
is that there is no straightforward
way to designate tasks as complete.
Currently, users may mark tasks as
complete by applying a color-
coded label; therefore, users would
have to know that green, for exam-
ple, indicates “complete.” Further-
more, to prevent a card from
showing as overdue, users must
delete the due date and, if desired,
assign an appropriate label. While
this process works fine for small
projects, it would become cumber-
some with larger projects.
PRICING
Trello has three main pricing op-
tions: Free, Business Class, and En-
terprise. Trello also has a semi-
hidden Gold level that users unlock
once they invite new team mem-
bers to join the free version.
The basic version of Trello is
simply referred to as “Free.”
The basic version allows users
to create unlimited boards and
integrate with Dropbox,
Google Drive, and Box. It con-
tains 3 basic Power-Ups (cal-
endar integration, Voting, and
Card Aging), and allows users
to attach files up to 10 mega-
bytes (MB) in size.
Trello Gold is: $5 per month
per person or free when users
invite new members to join.
With Gold, users can add cus-
tom backgrounds and stickers
and upload files up to 250 MB
in size. Users access Trello
Gold from a circuitous inter-
face; this level is not available
via the traditional pricing in-
formation page.
Business Class: Business class
provides team overviews and
offers integration with a num-
ber of apps, including, but not
limited to, Google Hangouts,
Github, Slack, and Mailchimp.
Users may attach files up to 250
MB in size.
Enterprise: Enterprise is in-
tended for large organizations
managing multiple projects
and teams. Enterprise users en-
joy the same features as those
with Business Class with extra
layers of security.
OVERALL VALUE
For a free product, Trello is an ex-
cellent project management tool
that can assist users with complet-
ing projects on time. Trello allows
users to communicate with board
Review 211
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2016.49
jmla.mlanet.org
105 (2) April 2017 Journal of the Medical Library Association
members through using the com-
menting feature and by assigning
members to cards. The ability to
assign due dates and integrate
those due dates into a personal cal-
endar is especially useful. Further-
more, through the use of labels and
due date notifications, Trello al-
lows users to get a visual snapshot
of project progress. I recommend
Trello to individuals managing
small to medium-sized projects and
teams at the personal and profes-
sional level.
Heather A. Johnson, MLIS,
heather.a.johnson@dartmouth.edu,
Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Articles in this jo urnal are licens ed under a Creative
Commons Attribut ion 4.0 International Licens e.
This journal is published by the University Library System
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University of Pittsburgh Press.
ISSN 1558-9439 (Online)
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to profile various types of Web-based tools to facilitate research collaboration within and across institutions. Design/methodology/approach Various Web-based tools were tested by the author. Additionally, tutorial videos and guides were reviewed. Findings There are various free and low-cost tools available to assist in the collaborative research process, and librarians are well-positioned to facilitate their usage. Practical implications Librarians and researchers will learn about various types of tools available at free or at low cost to fulfill needs of the collaborative research process. Social implications As the tools highlighted are either free or of low cost, they are also valuable to start-ups and can be recommended for entrepreneurs. Originality/value As the realm of Web-based collaborative tools continues to evolve, the options must be continually revisited and reviewed for currency.
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