Why Trello is the perfect task management tool
About four months ago we decided to use Trello as our task management tool for our team at Clean Kitchen. It has been really awesome experience using it so far.
In the past I have used different kinds of issue tracking solutions. I still believe that for a co-located team it is very hard to beat physical wall and stickies. There is something about real world information radiators that is very hard to emulate with for any virtual tool. Unfortunately nowadays co-location is very rare and something I don’t expect to come across much. That said I think Trello has come as close as can be to the feel of a physical task wall.
What about Jira?
For the last 15 years or so I have mostly used Jira. It seems Jira has become the default choice for a task tracking tool during this time. Indeed, its UX is better than most enterprise tools. Also, it has a lot of features. This means it very likely has whatever functionality you can think of. Also, due to its configurability it is a safe choice when you have a lot of teams with different work practices.
This was also the reason we decided to use Jira at Wise about 7 years ago ( named TransferWise at the time). Nobody really loved it. But it seemed the less bad option and it promised to scale well for our growing organisation.
Unfortunately, that endless flexibility and labyrinth of features is also my biggest problem with Jira.
Jira — a complex tool to manage complex work process
For sure there are environments where one might need all these power tools. However, I doubt if the productivity in an organisation that requires 20 fields to define a task is high.
Jira has all these features to help managing huge backlogs of hundreds of tasks. No matter how powerful the tool is, if I have hundreds of items on my backlog then chances are I will never get to the majority of them. Spending time filtering or organising all that inventory is a waste.
Trello — a simple tool to manage lightweight work process
Simple tools like Trello do not work well for long lists of tasks. That is a good thing. I want the backlog to contain only the work that the team is planning to do on the current week and main points they will pick up next. Everything else should be treated as a potential idea at best. Read more about this approach here.
To my understanding Trello’s philosophy is:
“Manage your tasks in a pleasurable experience without any distractions”
Trello makes it very easy to work with tasks. Adding or redefining columns on the Kanban board is a breeze. Of course this is possible in Jira but it will take a lot more effort unless I’m a Jira administration expert.
Creative and fun online working space
Extra cherry on the cake is the ability to customise background image for the board. This may seem like bells and whistles. However, to me this is equal to decorating your team’s office space with posters and team photos. This is important part of building fun and inspiring working environment. Emulating this in virtual is especially important now that remote work is the norm.
What about when organisation is bigger?
We currently have just one product team at Clean Kitchen. Does Trello still fit when our organisation gets bigger? I think yes. When each team is small and has a single focus there is no need for more complex development process tools. Even in a bigger organisation it is hard to see why having long lists of tasks and complex ways how to describe work is beneficial for anything.