Become Your Firm's Organization Hero
It’s time to get organized! Stop sending To-Do lists to team members through email. They’ll get half done and then forgotten about and no one will know who’s working on what. I’ve been there and it’s confusing. Join me and I’ll give you a step-by-step guide on using Trello for architects so that you can be the organization hero at your firm.
Trello is essentially a powerful online whiteboard with sticky notes and to-do lists. It cleans up the clutter of emailing team members back and forth.
I know it’s one more tool that you’ll have to learn, but it’s easy once you get going and I promise it’ll be worth it.
Here’s the agenda today:
1. What is Trello?
Trello is a FREE online tool that helps you keep track of checklists and to-do items with your team. Even if you’re working on your own, it still works just as well. There is a paid subscription that you can get, but I’ve never found that I needed it. I’d stick with free until you find a really compelling reason to get the paid subscription.
What I really like about Trello is that it has all the tools I need, without being too cumbersome. I can make it as simple or intricate as I want it to be. If I just want it to be a simple checklist, no problem. If I want to really dig into it and create cards from emails, I can do that too.
There’s not too much of a learning curve, especially compared to some other organization tools I’ve tried in the past. So it’s great for team members in the office that don’t want / don’t have the time to learn a new program. The hardest part is setting it up, but luckily I’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to do that!
Here is the basic makeup of Trello:
A board is like your filing cabinet for your project.
A list is like your manila folder inside of that filing cabinet.
A card is like a notepad inside of that folder.
The screenshot above is an example of what a board for an architecture project might look like. There’s a lot of different ways you could use Trello in your firm, but I’ll focus on creating a simple task list. This will help you get started in the shortest amount of time, without having to learn everything Trello offers all at once. I encourage you to start with this and then explore after you get the basics down.
Here are the main steps for getting Started in Trello:
1. Create a board – Create a new board for each project you’re working in.
2. Invite Team Members – Invite any internal team members that are going to be working on this project with you.
3. Create a List – A general set of tasks that need to get done (i.e. Schematic Design, Owner Changes, Construction Documents, Specifications, etc.)
4. Create a Card – This goes in the list you just created. It contains your specific items. For our purposes it might contain a Redmarked PDF along with a checklist.
This will all make more sense once we start digging in.
2. Getting Started
First thing you’ll need to do is head over to Trello and sign up for an account. You just need your name, email, and password and then you’re good to go. Pretty straightforward.
3. Getting to Know Your Trello Board
After you go through those steps outlined in the pictures above, you’ll have a newly created board with all the info you just entered!
Let’s take a quick tour of the board so that you can get acquainted with it.
Take a minute to look to get to know your Trello board. I’ve outlined the main things you should be aware of.
The first thing I usually do is change the background (in the Menu where I labeled Settings and Options). There’s a bunch of different pictures to choose from, so give your board a little personality. You’ll probably be spending a good amount of time here!
If you want to re-order lists or cards, simply click and drag them to a new place.
Now, let’s invite some team members!
4. Inviting Team Members
Next up is adding coworkers to your board.
The first thing you should be aware of is that to the left of your initials there is a button that says ‘Private‘. (red circle in first image below). Click on that button and it will bring up the ‘Change Visibility‘ options. The simplest thing to do is to leave it on ‘Private‘. In order for anyone else to see the board you will have to individually invite them. This hides it from the public and help keeps your board secure.
You can also create a team if you’d like. For example, it would be useful if your firm is divided into studios. Maybe your education studio has the same group of people working on all education projects. Then you could create a team and then add the whole team to the board rather than individually inviting everyone each time you create a new board.
The second picture shows you where to click for inviting members. Either enter their email and send the invite right from here, or create a link and personally invite them through teams, email, etc.
Now that we have some team members on board, let’s get to know Cards.
5. Using Cards
Cards are the meat of your Trello board. This is where you can have checklists, descriptions, images, PDF’s, and a whole lot more.
The first image below shows a blank Card. Scroll through the pictures to see an example of how you might want to use the Card. I’ll explain how to do everything on the way.
I know that’s quite a bit of info to get through, but these are tools I end up using quite a bit and thought it would be good to run through them all!
Here’s some bonus tips! You don’t need to have a boring card, you can spice it up with emojis! You can also format your text and tag people. Here’s how to do that:
Tag People: type ‘@name’ and their name will pop up. This will give them a notification.
Bold Text: **this text will be bold**
Italicized text: *this text will be italicized*
So there are a couple of things I left out, mostly under the ‘Actions‘ tab, but that’s because I rarely find myself using them. I might hit the ‘Watch‘ button to keep up with notifications on the card, but that’s about the extent of it. I’m sure your methods will differ slightly, so you may find yourself using those more than I do. Either way, it’s a good idea to explore everything on the card so that you’re familiar with what it does.
6. Example of a Trello Board for Architects
Now that we’ve got the basics down and know how to invite team members and create cards, I’ll show you a couple of typical setups for boards that I’ve found work pretty well.
I’ve noticed that the simpler the board is the better. Otherwise it’s going to take a lot of work to find and organize things in a way that makes sense to everyone using it. If you make it too difficult to use, people just won’t use it.
See the images below for a couple of examples.
One way is to break the project down by phase, and then have checklists for more specific tasks under each list.
You could also try having a simple To-Do, Doing, Done board. I added a ‘Questions’ list as well so that it’s easy to keep track of those.
The best thing you can do is start with one of these and once you start using it, you’ll get a feel for what works best for you.
Nice work, you made it through! I really hope you found value in this post on using Trello for architects. You will now be the organization expert in the office.
Setting it up is the hardest part, but once you set up a couple of boards it’s a breeze. And once you do have it setup, coworkers can jump on board with minimal effort.
Give Trello a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
The Archi-Tech Guy
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