Organisation is the key to any great business, and app development is no exception. If you’re not organised it’s very likely deadlines
will get missed, projects will go over budget and features will never get properly implemented. Creating an organisational structure for your projects can be a trial if you’re new to business, but even if you have years of experience, how we do business is constantly in flux, and staying up-to-date can mean the difference between success and failure sometimes.
This is why at Kumulos (Backend as a Service) we’ve taken to using Trello, an innovative electronic pinboard that makes it easy to visually organise any project or task.
Developed by Fog Creek Software (yes that’s the Developer that Joel Splonsky of joelonsoftware owns), Trello is a visual pinboard that lets you use custom cards and columns to create a table for anything you want to organise. From app development, to your daily to-do list, to your vacation in 6 months, it can help you keep on top of all of them. Cards can be customised in a variety of ways, from their titles, to description, to who’s involved in them and can even be colour coded to help you visually separate them all.
It’s free to use and incredibly intuitive and we use it on a daily basis to keep our projects
ticking over in an orderly way.
To give an example how we use it, we don’t need to look any further than this blog.
To organise the blog, we have 5 columns named:
“Content Backlog, Being Written, Draft Available, Reviewed, Published”
They move from left to right on the screen and all the blog title cards go through the same process. Each of the cards is a single blog title with a due date and colour code to signify what subject it’s on (for example red for a technology piece, green for a vision piece), and then the people who are going to be involved in the creating and editing of the blog are added as users.
As a title moved through from Backlog to published, all of these users will drop in at appropriate points to write, edit or oversee the blog.
By using Trello this way, everyone involved in the blog can see at a glance what the status of every blog title is and, by using the drag and drop feature in Trello, can rearrange the order of the cards if they spot something wrong. Trello also can be set up to send alerts by email to users who are included on a card if the card’s status changes (it’s moved to another column, the title is changed, due date changed etc), so no matter where you are you can be kept up to speed on what’s going on.
Like we said before, Trello can be used for organising anything you can think of, and our blog is just an example of many. Our guys use it for their development projects, their daily and weekly to-do lists and even keeping track of meetings and other events. Your imagination and schedule are really the only limits.
We did find one problem with Trello however, which was that despite being able to attach due dates to cards, you’re not able to create a calendar grid to organise them month by month. This has created problems where we aren’t sure what the overall picture of the month looks like, and so things have slipped through the cracks.
To combat this, Chris Wyllie, one of our developers, decided to hack Trello so that we could have a simple calendar view of everything that was going into a month and see where the gaps lay.
He’s written a short blog on that, which will be up very soon after this one, so keep an eye on our updates to see when that lands.
In keeping with the spirit of helping App Developers, we have a webinar coming up very soon on Wednesday the 22nd of this month and it will be all about how to do better business as an app developer, with our own CEO Mike Romilly answering your questions.
You can sign up right here:
We hope to see you there!