Last week, we compared the difference between Agile and Waterfall methodologies for software development. At FrogSlayer, we prefer to use Agile to manage our projects.
There are many different implementations of Agile, such as Scrum, Lean, or Kanban. Despite differences in these practices, most of them also have key commonalities including specific and compartmentalized roles for team members and a central information center, such as a Scrum or Kanban board. Many traditional project management and bug tracking tools are too large or unwieldy to be effectively used for a processes like this. Here at Frogslayer, we often solve this problem by using a lightweight tool called Trello.
How To Use Trello for Project Management
Trello is an increasingly popular project management software tool that is straightforward and easy to learn, but simultaneously very powerful. It can be used by professional teams to develop world-class software or by individuals working on personal projects. We use it to track the progress of our projects for our development team and our clients. Clients are added to their project board so we can receive immediate feedback and it also allows for transparency.
Boards provide an accessible point where the key information in the project can be viewed and used by the client, the development team, and any other stakeholders. Each board stores individual ‘cards’ in ‘lists.’ The cards can be moved and re-ordered within and between lists. This mimics the aforementioned physical ‘boards’ used in Scrum, Kanban, and other frameworks. Below is a sample of a project board for FrogSlayer.
A typical project at FrogSlayer is organized into lists with a ‘backlog’ of tasks that have not been started on the far left, a ‘bug backlog’, an ‘in-progress’ section, a ‘need acceptance/testing’, and a ‘done’ section. This ensures that every feature on the project is visible at every point of development to all stakeholders.
As each task is worked on, it moves from the left lists to the right lists on the board until it is done. Cards are added to and ordered in the backlog based on client feedback and business requirements, typically by the Product Manager. This sets the priority of different features for the development team. This straightforward and clear approach never obfuscates what is happening and when from a development standpoint.
One of my favorite aspects of using Trello is it works great as a bug tracking tool for managing projects. Instead of an unnecessarily unwieldy dedicated application or disorganized e-mailing, Trello can be leveraged as an excellent bug killing app.
For each project, create a new list named the “Bug Backlog.” When a new bug is discovered, a full defect report complete with screenshots and steps on how to reproduce the issue can be added to the card. This streamlines the process of reporting and fixing any software defects. The backlog is also kept ordered by priority so that more urgent issues are resolved first.
Labels are another Trello feature that can be useful for project management. One strategy to managing boards is to create labels for different levels of bug severity, new features, and research tasks. Multiple labels can be added as needed in up to 10 different colors or no color. This ensures another layer of organization across your project so that you can see, for example, how much bug fixing is going on versus new feature development or how many of your bugs are just minor cosmetic fixes instead of blocking issues.
Burndown charts are a common tool in used in Agile to track velocity – or the past speed of development – in order to predict the future development speed. This can be used to estimate on-time feature delivery for products. There are multiple third party apps which allow velocity, burn-up, or burn-down charts to be automatically created from Trello boards.
Another strategy is to create separate “Done” lists for each sprint or some other consistently measured time period. The size of these Done lists can be used to evaluate how much work is being accomplished from the backlog, which can then be used to estimate how much work should be allocated for the next development iteration. For example, we categorize our Done lists by month for some of our projects so that the client can see what our velocity is each month.
Trello is a powerful tool due to its ease of use, customization, and flexibility. All of the information about a project is presented in a straightforward and visual manner which makes it useful for keeping clients up to date in addition to managing internal development. When shared with team members and stakeholders a Trello board can become an invaluable information source for a software project.
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