Sunday, October 23, 2011

Redefining Project Management with Trello

It's not often that you see a completely fresh approach to an old problem, so it's always very exciting to see something like this pop up!  This time it's Trello from FogCreek Software (for those of you who have been in the world of software development, it's Joel Spolsky's company)

Project Management is an area that concern everyone, whether you're managing clients or building a rocket, you're facing the need to keep track of tasks, dole out responsibilities, monitor the progress, remove obstacles, look for ways to leverage the resources effectively, estimate the completion, etc, etc..

Traditional tools like MS Project put you in a very rigid framework of having to plan everything ahead of time and god forbid something should go not according to the plan (that never happens, right?? ), managing the change becomes a nightmare.. And this is where the task completion is predictable and dependencies are few.. What if you have dependencies that are very hard to predict or manage or the tasks that are hard to estimate, or you loose a resource, or ..

In the world of high productivity and "Agile", it's clear that a better approach is needed - an approach where monitoring and re-prioritization are woven into the fabric of the solution.

Trello hits the nail on the head with it's Project Board approach.  It allows a bird's eye view of the projects and instant re-prioritization of the tasks.  It makes it easy to delegate the tasks and publish the projects for others to see (reporting anyone?), but it also passes a very important test for a tool that is essential - it makes you WANT to use it!!

With time I expect to see more status indicators like if the task is in danger, addition of dependencies perhaps..   Another component that can light the adoption on fire is to integrate it with large touch screens that can be hung in the halls or conferences rooms!

P.S.  One other very attractive thing about Trello's approach is that the "stacks" don't have to be projects - they can be stages in the process for example, creating a great workflow app.  Very flexible indeed!