Using Trello by toolmantim
I should preface this post by saying that neither I, nor SEP, have any connection to Trello whatsoever. I just think it's an extremely helpful project management tool.
To describe it simply, Trello is a tool that makes it easy to organize things. In my experience, Trello has helped effectively manage content both internally and for clients. I've used it primarily for smaller projects — large, complex projects may need something more sophisticated — and it has helped tremendously.
I'm going to first describe some basics about Trello, then I will speak more specifically to how it has helped me eliminate some of the inefficiencies, bottlenecks, etc., that were making my job as a content marketer difficult.
Boards, Lists, And Cards
With Trello, you create a Board for every project you need managed.
For example, on my Trello account, I have a Board called SEP Content. Within each Board, you can create Lists, which are essentially columns used to indicate the stage of the project. For instance, Ideas, In Progress, Pending Review, Ready to Publish, etc. – you can create whatever Lists you want to match the needs of your project.
Within each List, you can add Cards, or single tasks within the project. When a certain stage of your task is complete, you simply drag and drop the Card into the next List, which indicates that it is ready for the next phase of production, whatever that may be.
Below is an example of what a Board with Lists and Cards looks like.
In my SEP Content Board, for example, my Lists are: Blog Post Ideas, In Development, Ready for Review, Ready to Publish, Published.
My Cards are the blog topics themselves. When I am done drafting a post, I move it into Ready for Review, and a notification is sent to a colleague who is also part of the Board (see more on adding members below).
You can use Boards on your own, or as a team.
When you set up a Board, simply add members and they will receive notifications updating them on the progress of the project (such as when one member moves a Card from one List to another). This is useful because if you have multiple people working on a single project, each member knows when its their turn to do their part.
Members can also upload documents and add comments.
How Trello Helps Me
At one point our internal content approval process had a bottleneck. When someone completed a piece of content, they would send it via email for approval. Obviously, this was an imperfect process, created an artificial bottleneck, and introduced a problem with version control. When we implemented Trello, both issues – approval time and version control – were eliminated.
It has worked wonders for our blog creation process. A member of the Board picks up a topic (Card), and moves it to the In Development List. Once they are finished, they move the Card into the Ready for Review List, and attach the file. The member of the Board who is responsible for reviewing the blog post receives a notification, and they do their part. Once they have finished, they move the Card into the Ready to Publish List, and so on and so forth.
Trello has helped with version control because it lists which documents are uploaded to a Card chronologically. Thus, the latest documents to be uploaded appear closer to the top. We tend to skip this stage altogether by simply uploading the most recent document to the Card once it has been moved to the next List. So, when I upload a document within a Card under the Ready for Review List, my coworker makes the necessary corrections, moves the Card to the Ready to Publish List, and uploads the edited version.
This has helped streamline our blog creation process, from development all the way to publishing. On this particular Board, we haven't set hard deadlines, though that is an option available in Trello (I'll discuss this feature in more detail below).
- See also: Managing Your Time And Projects With Trello (Wayne Barker)
Anybody who works with clients knows that approval processes can be time-intensive. If you can get clients on-board, Trello can significantly reduce bottlenecks in the process. We use Trello to manage the content creation and publishing process for select clients (note: it will not work for every client project) and it has proven beneficial for both our clients and for SEP.
Here's how we are currently using it:
- The client receives a brief that indicates how it will be used for their project, as well as an explanation of what the Lists and Cards mean.
- When the client agrees to use the system, we create a Board with Lists and Cards that are relevant to the project. The people who will be involved in the approval process on the client side are added to the Board as members.
- In every Card (a different content piece or task), we add due dates. For example, a blog is due August 22; once it is drafted, we move it to the Pending Approval list, and set a due date for when it needs to be approved by. The client receives a notification indicating that the content piece requires their approval.
- When the client approves it, we move it to the Approved Card and set a due date for when it needs to be published. The individual responsible for publishing the content piece receives a notification and schedules it for posting. Once this step is done, we complete and archive the card.
This process has been very effective for managing client content. Obviously, the way you set up your Board will differ based on the nature of the project, but it makes the entire process — from coming up with ideas, to creating the content, to approving and finally publishing — much more efficient and less time-intensive.
The key with using Trello for client work, as mentioned above, is to achieve client buy-in. Thus, it is important that you provide a detailed brief that outlines how it will be used and why it is advantageous. Once you nail down a process, client content management becomes highly efficient. Content ideas are numerous, deadlines are never missed, approval is quicker and less cumbersome, and publishing happens on schedule.
The Bottom Line: Trello Is A Great Tool
Whether you choose to use it for internal purposes or for client work, Trello is an excellent content management tool. It is intuitive, can be customized to suit the needs of individual projects, and is very simple (a characteristic that many project management tools lack). And the ways we're using it here at SEP are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a plethora of features and functionalities I haven't even touched on. I'm going to keep using it and see what other benefits it provides – I urge you to try it out for yourself.
- More on content tools: 750words, Trello, and Evernote
Daniel is a Content Writer at Search Engine People. He is always experimenting with new formats and looking for creative ways to produce, optimize and promote content. He previously wrote for CanadaOne Magazine and helped create and implement online marketing strategies at Mongrel Media.