Trello at St Andrews

At the meeting of the Scottish Web Folk, on Thursday 31 May held at the University of Edinburgh, I gave the above presentation about Trello from Fog Creek Software.

Trello is, according to its own help text,

a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

We’ve been using it since December 2011 within the web team at the University of St Andrews and are finding it really useful.

Summary of presentation

The first part of the presentation outlines something of our journey from a team of two members to (hopefully) six by the end of 2012. As our project backlog grew we knew that we needed to manage projects and tasks more collaboratively, to get details out of people’s heads and into a centralised tool.

We started to adopt Agile practices in 2008 which led to us creating a scrum board in the office. But in September 2012 Steve, our Web Manager, broke his foot and when he returned to working from home in December we knew that we needed to move the board online.

We had checked out a number of online, free and hosted applications such as Basecamp, Pivotal Tracker and Jira. However, Trello proved to be for us the perfect match.

The second part of the presentation takes a quick tour through the Trello interface and how it works.

The last part of the presentation involved a hands-on demo of the software. I’ve replaced this with two simple slides representing the two ways that we use Trello.

  1. We have one board called “Web team” which tracks the big picture: project requests, current projects being worked on, know issues, admin tasks, backlog of tasks, etc.
  2. Then we have multiple project boards, one for each project. These have a standard number of columns (backlog, in progress, waiting for, testing, done) and the labels (new feature, enhancement, PHP/JavaScript, bug, documentation, web team admin) are the same across every project.

If you have any questions or observations please leave a comment below or email me directly (gareth.saunders@st-andrews.ac.uk).

Do you use Agile in your Web projects?

For the last few months we’ve started using Agile development methods and practices in our Web projects to great success.  I’ll blog more about what we’re doing at a later date, I just wanted to take a quick poll: what Agile practices are you using (if any)?

How Bill Gates works

Interesting article “How I Work: Bill Gates” about how Bill Gates (you know, that bloke with the software house) works.  Good insights into his productivity methods.

It seems to boil down to:

  1. Three monitors (email, current work item, browser)
  2. Email filtering
  3. Ignore “the toast” – pop-up email notification
  4. Email, Desktop folders and Calendar instead of to-do lists
  5. SharePoint to collaborate on projects
  6. Search
  7. Whiteboard

I can certainly vouch for three monitors, email filtering and the whiteboard.

Gareth @ St Andrews