By Agnes Darricau
In our ever increasing digital world, it has become possible to be in the office without actually being here. In our case, with offices in London and Poland, and even some employees working remotely, having a cohesive shared platform accessible to all members of staff simultaneously is key.
As a company, we opted for Trello and to be honest we are all slightly addicted to it! Some of our staff members even have their own Trello boards outside of work (one of our colleagues even used a checklist for planning her Thanksgiving dinner…right down to the turkey basting timings! No comment...).
I was introduced to this wonderful tool when I first joined the company as a Content Editor two years ago, now I wonder how I ever survived without it! It is so easy to use - it’s flexible, intuitive and even fun!
In January 2014, our Trello board was very simple. We only had three editors and were only working on two main projects.
To give you an idea, it kind of looked like the screenshot below with the standard ‘To do, Doing and Completed’ columns, typical of a Kanban board where the team completes an item and then picks up the next available task from the top of ‘To Do’. Then, everything in ‘Completed’ is reviewed before the card starts the cycle again. It seems very basic but it is a useful way of categorising and prioritising our tasks.
The number of clients was increasing rapidly so we started to recruit more Content Editors. Six months ago, we reached a record number of 19 people in the Content Team! More clients, more projects and more staff meant more columns on the board.
As the ‘To do’ list became too long and our priorities were continually evolving, we realised the importance of streamlining our work by dividing each project into a separate column. Since not all cards needed to be worked on at once, we also started a labelling system to make it clearer which cards were ready to be picked up. In a way, it gave the editors more insight and independence.
With the new system in place, whenever an editor became available, they would only need to glance at the Trello board to determine which cards could be moved to ‘Doing’. It also provides a nice colourful visual indicator that shows the card’s status such as ‘Blocked’ or ‘Urgent’.
A great induction tool
As our team grew, my role as Head of Content became challenging and I found myself repeatedly explaining processes and answering the same questions. One of my colleagues recently said: "it feels great to explain something you fully understand, helping someone can be really satisfying, but after explaining the same thing a thousand times, it gets boring." And it’s true, not only was it becoming tedious, but I also realised I was not giving the same level of detail to all new starters when I was presenting the job to them.
Induction is crucial for new starters, so I thought, ‘why not use Trello as a training resource?’A few days later, the ‘New Starter’ board was born. It contains every bit of information I need to give to the new editors on their first day.
One column for office routine information (such as dress code, cleaning schedule…Yeah, we do have one... lunch breaks etc), one for our main clients and stakeholders and another one for the tools we use, including: Slack, Harvest and Trello.
There is a card introducing the office staff with pictures as some of them work remotely, it's nice to put a face to a voice. There is also a card for the abbreviations we use in the office and I can tell you, I would have paid good money for such a card when I began! ‘Those SKU codes are TBC on the PPT but don’t worry just do what you can on the SK CMS and the ODPC’ would leave anyone quite perplexed as you can imagine.
We even recently introduced a WTF card! Wait, it’s not what you think...it stands for - What is Trello For. Most editors starting at The Cogworks have never used this tool before so it breaks down the basics for them. From how to use the board to how to make a card prettier, it covers all tips! If you’d like some advice on how to format your cards, here is a guide with everything you need to know.
Beyond the induction board, we improved our Content board by adding a ‘Neverforgetme’ column where we keep all design templates, mastercards, guides, PDF documents etc. From now, whenever someone needs a specific document, my colleagues and I can easily send them a link to a card.
Ultimately, I find it useful to use Trello as an induction tool because it gathers in one place all the basics seasoned employees take for granted, it is structured and less formal than usual paper inductions. If you are a Manager or Head of a team, you should try it!
A constant evolution
Our Content board has evolved so much over the past two years, from the original three columns to the intricate nexus of 20+ columns and numerous cards, it has become vital for us to keep on top of our own processes. Adding relevant labels and tick lists to cards, keeping track of deadlines, naming attachments, creating and archiving columns, even keeping card titles up to date helps maintain the smooth flow of the board.
However, as with everything, there is always room for improvement, so we decided to set up a Trello catch up meeting every two months to discuss and review our own use of the board. Having recently discovered the Trello Power Ups which enable different ‘plugins’, we found the ‘Card Aging’ one particularly useful for our bi-monthly catch ups as it greys out any card which hasn’t been used in a long time. This makes it easier to spot cards which need to be updated or archived. We love it!
In 2017, I would like us to try the Slack PowerUp. It would allow the Content Project Managers to get a direct reminder on Slack about specific cards. Even with a highly organised team and effective processes, it can still get a bit confusing with over 150 cards on the board!
If, like us, you are a Trello fan, we recommend you pay a visit to their blog section as they always give great tips and it is nice to keep up with the new features they release! LifeHacker goes a step further with their interesting article about how to organise your entire life with Trello and we couldn’t agree more!