For many, Trello and Slack are the essential business applications that work together to provide a complete functionality.
So, we are not going to pit Trello vs Slack in the traditional sense. Instead, we are going to show you how these two platforms can work separately and work together to make it easy to manage your workload.
What Is Trello?
Trello is one of the best online project management platforms available, which is accessible anywhere at any time through a web browser.
It is a simple system of boards, with a board representing a workflow or project. Within each board you create lists and within each list you create cards.
These cards are meant to represent the sticky notes you post up to say what jobs need doing.
Each card becomes a task or subtask in the larger project. Within the card, there are lots of options, including:
- comments with @Mention
- colour coding
- file and image upload
All this functionality is free to use. If you opt to purchase Trello Business Class or Trello Enterprise you get a lot of additional features.
If you choose Trello Business Class you get unlimited Power-ups.
Power-ups are applications that can be used within cards, to enhance the functionality of the card.
These Power-ups include:
- Calendar – which helps you visualise the dates that are important to your project;
- Card Ageing – which shows you the cards that haven’t received much attention recently;
- Butler – which offers customisable buttons for your cards; Box, which organises your files – and many, many more.
These Power-ups are the features that take Trello from a good product management tool to a fully flexible and customisable application for your business.
It is how you would integrate the application with others, such as Dropbox, Google Hangouts and Jiva.
Business Class also allows you to:
- attach files up to 250MB
- organise team boards into collections
- restrict membership invitations
- custom board backgrounds and stickers
- email support with a human being
Enterprise level Trello offers all the features of Business Class but a lot of robust security features to keep sensitive data secure, including file encryption.
There is also the added option of an account manager to help you implement Trello. This comes at a cost of about $20 per user.
How Can Trello Help With Work Management?
Toyota developed a system of production that kept levels high and helped to maintain flexibility.
This Kanban system is like a whiteboard with post-it notes;
– You have lists of tasks which are to be done, are in the process of being done or have been done.
– You then take your sticky notes and write tasks on them and organise them under the headings.
– When the task moves forward in the process the post-it note moves along the workflow.
It is as simple and as genius as this.
Trello represents this workflow but in an internet web browser that multiple people can access wherever they are.
How to Use Trello
Create a board
First you would create a board, which would represent a project or a product under development or always being worked on.
You can invite who you like to the boards, with a simple email invitation and then you can offer levels of permissions within this.
Those with administration level permissions can alter the board as they see fit. Others who are invited to the boards can go into cards, which represent tasks, begin a conversation, add an attachment, set a deadline or create checklists.
Create a list
The next level of organisation is the list. This would be a step in the production process or a bucket of activity that items would fall into.
Within these lists you create cards – which are the Trello version of the post-it notes. These cards can be dragged and dropped under different lists, as the project moves forward.
Some Benefits of Using Trello:
Creating a series of boards, you can cover the entirety of company work. You may, for instance, have a board that tracks appointment and onboarding of staff.
You could also have a board that tracks the payment of invoices from expected, received and paid. You can give priority to some boards that you use a lot by putting a star on them. This means that board will be at the top of your list of boards that you can select.
When you create a list and then a card you can add members by dragging and dropping them from the members box on the right-hand side of the screen. This means that you have allocated them to this card and in essence assigned responsibility to the task or activity.
When you create a card, you are invited to give it a name and a description. This should be a clear description of the card and its purpose. Discipline in naming the card is important, if you don’t want multiple cards with the same purpose in use.
These cards offer discreet areas where files can be shared and comments made related to that task. These comments, files and checklist move with the card as it is dragged from one list to another.
You can create a card via email and send it to the board, if you have an idea that you want to store quickly and keep safe. This helps to prevent ideas getting buried in email threads. The archiving in Trello also creates an institutional memory, with the option to search for content that has been uploaded in the past.
The recent addition of a calendar, which helps you to visualise deadlines put into the cards, makes Trello a wholly more useful app for managing complex projects. This prevents any need for an alternative scheduling app outside of Trello, such as ICalendar.
What Is Slack?
Slack is a chat app that helps to replace isolated email boxes. It is a messaging app that is meant for use by people who are part of multiple teams.
It can be used on a desktop, tablet and phone and allows you to join in group chats or one-to-one discussions with colleagues no matter where you are.
You start by signing into a workplace and then you join channels that you have permission to join.
These channels help to organise messages within the workplace and everybody permitted to view the channel will be able to see all the messages sent there.
The channels can then be organised into threads.
These threads act like the subject line in the email and make it possible for people to see what is relevant to read or not.
You can also direct message people by clicking on their name or make sure they know the message is meant for them by using @Mention.
You can share files and images, as well as integrate with other apps such as Trello, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc. You can also integrate with Skype, to bring in video conferencing.
Slack is free for the most part.
The basic package allows for 10,000 messages to stay relevant and searchable.
There is 5GB of free file storage and the option to integrate with up to 10 apps.
If you purchase the standard package you get a full archive, unlimited apps. Group calls and screen sharing and features that help you search within the app.
Storage leaps to 10GB per team member and there is a mandatory two-factor authentication available.
If you then purchase the Plus package you get SAML0based single sign on, custom export of messages and 20GB per team member storage – as well as other security and support features.
How can Slack help with work management?
The pain-point you may feel is the long email thread with multiple addressees pinging backwards and forwards, with or without attachments – which eventually becomes difficult to follow and understand.
People may then start replying to emails with the wrong subject line or forgetting to copy people in to replies.
Soon, with email, the idea that everyone is kept informed or that information is readily available to all is a fantasy – and this is why you need Slack.
Slack will become your communication hub and ensure that all messages are received and also stored for future reference.
The free app is more than enough for most small businesses and integration with Trello and Google Docs makes Slack part of a group of free business applications that can cover all aspects of project management.
How can Trello and Slack work together?
Trello vs Slack should be more Trello and Slack!
They work together to form a comprehensive project management tool.
If you integrate the two you can move a card in Trello or allocation a member to a list and it will show up as a notification in Slack.
Slack, with desktop notifications enabled, will immediately communicate to that team member that there is something of interest for them to look at in Trello.
Working with Trello and Slack together means that the project is clearly organised and visualised in Trello and then effectively communicated in Slack.
This covers much of the ground of effective work management tools – and you can use them free of charge whilst you are growing your business!