Trello Pros & Cons: Analysis of a Leading Project Management Software

What are the pros and cons of Trello?
The pros and cons of Trello are demonstrated by how its intuitive use of boards, cards and list allows teams to accomplish projects within deadlines. With it, project managers always stay on top of personnel, tasks and schedules. Businesses running highly specialized projects, however, might have to do with a solution with more specialized features.

As one of the leading project management solutions, Trello always figures in the conversation of organizations looking to either migrate to another solution or just embark on launching one. While Trello has helped thousands of businesses accomplish their project objectives, your business might have unique processes and native requirements that agree well with how Trello was designed for. You wouldn’t know that for certain, however, until you have closely examined the project management platform.

In this article, we break down Trello pros and cons to get you started on your evaluation of this popular project management solution. We’ll run down the program’s standout features and identify any limitations that you need to be aware of. That way, you can decide if you could afford to overlook these limitations, if any, in favor of the more crucial capabilities that your project teams need right now. If not, we’ll also have you start with these other leading project management tools to get you up to speed in that direction.

trello pros and cons

With 90% of Americans—and presumably the rest of the world—opening to the idea of independent contracting work, freelancing or consulting, how many businesses are braced to meet this drastic tide of changes waiting to overwhelm traditional workplaces and businesses? Most likely not many. If your business is on the direct path of these sweeping changes, then there’s no better time to rethink your business strategies.

The gig economy is upon us, and there is no other software solution best placed to meet it head-on than project management software. You wouldn’t know that, of course, if your idea of work is still that of vast office complexes, cubicles, multiple departments, and so on. A walk-through of what it can do should help you come to terms with the drastic changes in the nature of work that are now in full force.

The gig economy entails a massive adjustment of traditional work roles. As workers drift away from physical offices and into the comfort of familiar surroundings, you need to build on how you could impart flexibility, opportunity and autonomy while meaning to get projects done and on time.

Most project management platforms already support advanced remote project management capabilities, especially those deployed on the cloud. Coupled with perhaps other SaaS-based productivity tools, transitioning to this new work reality should become less of a pain for your business.

What is Trello?

Trello is a project management application that uses the intuitive card-based kanban methodology. This approach allows individuals and teams to employ a visual progressive task management system using customizable cards, lists, and boards. The simplest kanban scheme is the popular three-bin system where task cards progress from “Things to Do” to “Doing” and, finally, to “Done.” Of course, Trello features also extend to allowing users to design their own boards, cards, and lists to fit their project requirements and workflows. The platform is as versatile as they come, allowing it to be used to manage personal chores or collaborative business projects.

Trello’s user interface is neat, simple, and self-explanatory. It takes almost no time to get started: just sign up, sign in, and design your own Trello boards. The controls are easy and intuitive. The familiar drag-and-drop capability makes it accessible to anybody.

A free plan allows you to instantly use Trello to manage projects without financial commitment. You can keep using it for free if the basic features are enough for your project management needs. You can add more features by using extensions or by subscribing to paid plans.

While Trello is popular among millions of active users, it was not really designed for everyone. The kanban system is not always ideal for some types of projects. Next, we will explore the basics of Trello, the possible range of its uses, and its likely limitations.

Kanban Style: A System of Cards and Boards

The kanban board system was invented in Japan. The word kanban literally means signboard in Japanese. It was designed to help streamline workflows and keep everybody on the same page using an efficient flow of information. Back then, physical cards with order information were attached to manufacturing containers or items. This gave team members instructions on how to replenish stock levels, how many items to manufacture, and when they are due. It was first used in the automotive industry in Japan to improve manufacturing efficiency.

This card-based method is the source of Trello’s inspiration for the design of its project management boards. In Trello, users can create task cards that can progress in statuses. This progression is represented by the movement of each card through a series of customizable lists. You can label each list according to a relevant phase of the project and move task cards through them progressively or to their appropriate status. For example, there can be three lists representing a sequence with the labels “To Do”, “In Progress”, and “Finished”. For more complicated projects, more lists can be added.

This scheme encourages users to break up large tasks into smaller ones. This helps them simplify tasks and grasp the extent of complicated projects better. Because of this, users can approach their projects more systematically.

Boards: Uses and Limits

Populate boards with images and figures to make group projects easier to handle.

Boards represent projects and users can switch from one to another easily. There are two types of boards available on Trello. One is a personal board for personal chores. The other is a team board for collaborative use.

Trello allows a user to create as many personal boards as they want. This is even allowed for those only subscribed to the free version. The number of lists and cards are unlimited as well. Of course, having too many will result in clutter and this defeats the purpose of Trello’s neat and simple look. It is just good to know that there is that option.

Paid plan subscribers are allowed to have unlimited team boards with unlimited team members. They can group boards according to department, project types, and others. If you opt for the free version, you can only have ten team boards supporting unlimited members. Boards are color-coded so they are easily identifiable. Business Class or Enterprise ClassOne subscribers can upload custom backgrounds.

Once a board is created, a collapsible menu is available at the right side of the screen. Users can then add a description about each board and add Power-Ups. These Power-Ups are third-party integrations that range from analytics and reporting to sales and support. Free-version users are allowed one Power-Up enabled per board; paid plan subscribers can have unlimited integrations.

Other Trello features include a filter system and stickers that one can drag and drop on top of cards. Also, board activity history is displayed on the bottom of the menu as well. This allows users to track changes and recent activities.

Lists and Cards: Uses and Limits

Users can add lists on the board and task cards in those lists. The cards can be moved from list to list individually or in bulk. Lists bars or columns can be used for different things for different users. Usually, though, they are used to designate the status of the tasks, which are represented by cards.

One can easily create task cards in a list by clicking “Add a card” and “Add another card.” Users of all Trello versions are allowed to create an unlimited number of task cards. Once a card has been added, one can click on the card and enter relevant task details. There is a description field for each card. There are also options to add labels to cards, a checklist, due date, members, and even attachments. These options allow users to fill each task card with relevant information and include as many details as needed. There are also several actions available including “Move,” which allows users to transfer the card to another list. This can represent a task progressing from one status to another.

Power-Ups can also be added on the cards themselves. There is also the comment section which is useful for individuals to keep notes and for teams to communicate.

The command buttons are well placed on every card interface. Their visibility encourages new and old Trello users to include every relevant detail. This serves as a nudge to include every pertinent information and make all task cards easily understandable. Trello’s design helps direct users to arrange tasks in a clear, simple, easy-to-understand, and visually pleasing fashion.

The system is pretty straightforward and simple. It is perfect for personal chores and the management of small groups.

On the other hand, this mix of boards, lists and cards could be limited for significantly complex organizations. Its commitment to a clean kanban-style methodology makes it preferable for those with projects like event organization or for students’ study schedule management. It can also serve as a collaboration hub for managers overseeing different departments of varying expertise and workflows. This is because it encourages users to break down tasks and it simplifies them using the card format.

For large companies with many different departments and functions, working in this manner needs further supplementation through Power-Ups within Trello or by other applications. The number of Power-Ups allowed depends on the type of subscription.

Tiered Subscription

Trello’s free plan is perfect for general project management. However, it could prove to be very limited for more specialized projects. If one has a strong preference for Trello’s card-based board system but wishes to add more modules, the user needs to upgrade to paid plans. This enables the use of an unlimited number of Power-Ups to extend Trello’s features and capacities. There are Power-Ups for almost everything including reporting, analytics, sales, design, and so much more. For free plans, users can only have one Power-Up per project board.

For those with a limited budget, there just might be possible ways to create a Trello-based collaboration hub for many users with multiple boards with one Power-Up each to cater to specialized needs. But this creates clutter. This also introduces difficulties as users need to regularly switch between multiple boards to be on top of the whole project. This defeats the purpose of having a highly visual and user-friendly interface that Trello offers.

So, if users really want to stay on Trello once their projects become more complicated for a free plan to support, they can choose to upgrade their accounts. Upgrading has three significant benefits.

First, you would have unlimited Power-Ups. Second, you would be able to increase the file size limit for attachments from 10MB to 250MB. Third, paid plans give users access to administrative controls such as limiting which members can create shared boards and other permission settings like restricting non-admin users to read-only access. This increases the security and privacy of your boards.

Furthermore, users with Enterprise accounts have added benefits over those with Business accounts. They get more restriction options and automation functions. Enterprise accounts are designed for organizations with more than 100 members. For smaller teams, Business Class and the free version may suffice.

Power-Up Scheme

Power-Ups for reporting, analytics, sales, design, and others extend the capabilities of Trello.

The Power-Up scheme has its merits and its drawbacks depending on your standpoint. For users who plan to use Trello for less complicated generic projects such as designing rooms, managing small social media campaigns, planning a wedding or some relatively small event, the basic card-based board system with one or more Power-Ups may work.

For those who are looking for a management application for projects such as building construction, managing multiple warehouses, managing a hospital, or managing a legal firm, Trello is less likely to be a good fit. This is even with all Power-Ups enabled. This is not necessarily due to “flaws” in Trello. There are just projects that Trello is not designed to fully support on its own.

Highly specialized projects need highly specialized project management tools. Trello lacks these highly-specialized kinds of tools. But for general projects that can be managed by a generic task progression scheme using task cards with assignment details such as deadlines and handles file attachments, Trello and its neat interface is more than enough. The healthy serving of Power-Ups makes the Trello base very flexible.

Trello can be useful, for example, to social media management teams or graphics design departments. Your sales department can use Trello especially with Pipedrive and Salesforce Power-Ups. For those who want Gantt charts and other project management visualization tools, there are different Power-ups available. Imagination and resourcefulness seem to be the only limits as to Trello’s use for less-specialized types of projects. But to really know whether Trello is right for you or your team, you really have to try it out. There really is no other way but to expect a short yet informative trial-and-error phase. There is virtually no drawbacks to this approach.

Is Trello right for your business?

Trello is a neat and easy-to-use application perfect for general project management. It is a flexible platform thanks to integrations called Power-Ups. Trello boards can be customized and fitted with these different third-party tools useful to freelancers, small businesses, or among departments of large organizations. Its interface is interactive. Its design allows for rich teamworking environment found in many collaboration tools.

Although Trello is not designed for highly-specialized and industry-specific projects, it can co-exist with other systems and supplement them by making complex processes easily understandable to multiple parties with different expertise. Trello can synthesize these processes and provide an all-important digestible view of the whole.

As well, Trello easily integrates with other systems like CRM platforms, file sharing applications to promote more collaboration, as well as a number of marketing and some of the leading sales tools with many agents working together.

One can always start using the free version to test whether Trello is a good fit. You can tinker and experiment for free for a reasonable time. Business Class costs about $9.99 per user and Enterprise accounts will set you back $20.83 per user. These rates apply to an annual payment plan. The best way to know whether Trello is the only thing you need or a good supplement to your system is to just give it a go.

Stephanie Seymour

By Stephanie Seymour

Stephanie Seymour is a senior business analyst and one of the crucial members of the FinancesOnline research team. She is a leading expert in the field of business intelligence and data science. She specializes in visual data discovery, cloud-based BI solutions, and big data analytics. She’s fascinated by how companies dealing with big data are increasingly embracing cloud business intelligence. In her software reviews, she always focuses on the aspects that let users share analytics and enhance findings with context.

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