When Trello Isn’t Enough

trello portfolio management frustration

Trello is the clearest, most visually pleasing, Kanban board task management app out there. There. I said it. There’s a very good reason Trello is so popular and well-liked. Kanban is a powerful organizational tool for managing tasks. And Trello is a simple and intuitive Kanban-board-based task management platform.

Is Trello Good for Project Management?

The thing is that Kanban and Trello are about managing tasks and workflow. However, managing a project is more than task management. Project management requires planning, scope, coordination, budgeting, workload balancing, and more. Task management apps give you the ability to delegate tasks to team members and monitor their progress, but miss out on the other ingredients. Trying to run a project through Trello is like trying to paint the Mona Lisa by the numbers – you’ll have some kind of approximation, but you’ll be missing so many of the fine details that are what makes the ultimate difference.

As your projects grow in scope and complexity, you might notice that Trello stops being the perfect tool. Why? Because, among other things, Trello doesn’t have a timeline.

trello doesn't have a collaborative timeline
Timeline visuals are crucial for project management!

Timeline visuals for a project are more than just a way of visually mapping tasks. They serve many valuable purposes in project management:

1) You can’t really track progress for the team, or show progress to the customer, without a timeline visualHow do you know where your project is holding on a Kanban board? By opening every card and sifting through the notes on it? And how can you update someone on the project, such as the customer, an executive, or a team member, without a visual representation of the project?

2) Kanban boards don’t show links and dependencies. There are tasks that depend on other tasks in any project. Some of those tasks cross workstreams, and need to be carefully managed. If you don’t see those links while actively running the project, you run the risk of cascading delays derailing your project and task groups fumbling the handoff when one team passes an item to another.

3) “Doing” gets all the attention. “To Do” flies under the radar…until it’s too late. All the necessary prep work for a task is important! But a Kanban view draws your attention to the tasks at hand, not the tasks in the pipeline. How do you undertake project analysis without analyzing the To-Do list beforehand? And if your attention is on the To-Do list, how do you keep track of the Doing list?

4) Kanban creates a “Specificity Deficit.” Organizational projects aren’t always one-off projects, like planning a wedding or moving the office to a new location. They require ongoing maintenance and are often strategic and critical in nature. Kanban creates streams of generic tasks, and it is very hard to specify the project’s nature and scale with a Kanban board. Sure, you can mark a task as “urgent” in Kanban, but you can’t really show how that task is crucial for five other projects, let alone the current one.

5) The timeline is an essential project management toolYour team needs to have an understanding of the project as a whole, not just their particular tasks. You never want to hear the words “But I had no idea my task was so critical and so much depended on it, I thought it could just be done in two weeks from now!” as a project manager. The team needs to understand the project in order to be able to carry it out. The timeline visual is an essential tool for the team’s level of awareness and understanding of the project. Oh, and when managing multiple projects, the timeline becomes even more important. Try running project portfolio management using a Kanban board and you’ll soon see the futility of such an approach.

Reaching the point where Trello begins to feel like it’s coming up short is a mark of progress. It means your projects are growing, and your toolkit needs to grow along with it! 

Proggio Kanban view
“Is that Trello?” “No, it’s the new Kanban task management view in Proggio!”

So if you’re asking yourself, “How do I manage multiple projects in Trello?” the sad truth is that you can’t.

Of course, Kanban is a wonderful tool for task management, and any good project management platform will incorporate a Kanban board in its suite of task management tools. Proggio gives you the visual timeline you need, a Kanban board as part of the task management suite of tools, and an extended toolkit including plan vs. actual, budget tracking, workload balancing, and more.

If you have multiple projects to manage and deliver on, Mazal Tov! You’ve outgrown Trello!  You now need a more robust tool at your disposal to keep up the good work.

Proggio has them all, from automatically updating Portfolio Management view to visual timeline Project Management view to Kanban board task management, and more. See the difference for yourself – click the button below for a free trial of Proggio.