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The Essential Tool for Managing Client Releases

Apr 11 '14

Effectively communicating status is one of the most important ways you establish trust with clients. Status reports, project plans, and Gantt charts, can be time consuming, difficult to maintain, and are obsolete almost immediately after being shared. Trello provides a way for clients to always have the latest status of the great features you are building, while minimizing maintenance.

What is Trello?

Think virtual Kanban board. A basic board would have three columns – To Do, Doing, Done. Create your Trello board at trello.com and the image below is what you will start with. It’s that simple – add cards to the list and drag them to the correct columns as features and functionality progress through each stage.

Trello default view

How we use it with clients

Backlog
We add all of the features a client wants to build to the backlog. Having a backlog board gives you a place to park all of the new ideas and enhancements in one place. Every time a client mentions a new idea or improvement, I immediately add it to the backlog board. This ensures you are keeping a healthy backlog and don’t lose track of all of the enhancements that will make the product even better in the next phase or release.

trello release planning

Planning
Planning sessions with clients are now a breeze - pull up your backlog board, work your way down the cards and let your client choose what should be next. Create a column to park cards and readjust priority during the discussion.
One board = one release

Once you have agreed on what has been added to the “Planned” column, create a new board for the release to represent the features which will be delivered. Decide on the date for the release and keep it in the title. The board is reviewed with the client at each status meeting, but all users have access to the board at any time. When features are ready, all you have to do is drag them to the “Done” column.

Why it is effective

Transparency
Trello has helped communicate status in a visual way for clients to actually see in a way that work is being completed. It allows for a one-page project management tool that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It is always available, and always up to date. Users can even set up an alert to be notified when something about a card changes.

Readjusting priority is as easy as drag and drop.
Ok, maybe not that easy in practice. However, Trello lets you effectively communicate what is being worked on and where work has not started so that the client can choose what should be worked on next.

We aren’t the only ones with work to do.
Every project involves client deliverables that will impact your timeline if not received in a timely manner. Adding a column to your Trello board for client to dos reminds them of the items they must deliver in order for you to build the product and meet your dates.

Keeping the focus on the client
Trello also reminds your internal team what is important to the client, when the next deliverable is, and what the priorities are. Having one place where your team can always refer to the priorities will help your projects be even more successful.