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Trying to manage large numbers of projects

Robert Zorich August 6, 2023

Hi, We are a law firm trying out Trello to escape the disaster of one of the competitors Without nAming nAmes, they seem to misunderstAnd whAt real businesses need, and worse, mAde huge chAnges without any warning, really screwing us up. However, we just got Trello and are trying it out. I personally am a Certified Program Manager and Six Sigma MBB, so I'm familiar with what I'm trying to do, just not how to do it within Trello.

Anyway, we need to be able to manage about 200 or more cases at a time. The individual projects for each client varies in number of tasks from maybe 20 to maybe about 50 or so, but are generally mostly the same, and we don't need superfine granularity and detail into each step, mostly just whether the task has been completed or not, keeping track of milestone dates, etc. The cards easily handle everything we need, and the customization may do a lot of what I'm asking for. We love the way we can design each board and card, using templates to get the information we need for each case/client.

On the surface, it would appear that the most obvious setup is having each case / client as its own board. However, then we end up with a sidebar with hundreds of otherwise unclassified boards/clients, sortable only by name, recent use, or by starring some of them, which makes finding specific ones time consuming.

What we need to do is to classify them into categories, such as Probate, Will, Business, Litigation, etc. The "Collections" feature would work if we could put the collections on the Sidebar, and have the various cases/boards appear as subtopics in a pull down or in the main view port or something, but that doesn't appear to be feasible. This way we could see the eight or ten categories/Collections we need and then find the individual cases from within that set.

I've seen how one can create lists with cards that point to specific nested boards, via URL links,  and that sorta comes close to what we are looking for, but still ends up with a giant heap of more or less redundant projects in the side bar.

So, this brings up a bunch of questions, of which I will only ask a couple:

1- Am I correct that it is not possible to put "Collections" in the sidebar? If we can, that helps a LOT! In fact, answers most of my concerns, especially if we can hide other boards from the sidebar, leading to:

2 - Can we create boards that do not show up in the sidebar? So that we can create top level boards with the categories we need, that then resolve to lists of client cards, each of which then points to a nested board (not shown in the sidebar), for the details of each case/client. (Privacy/visibility doesn't really help here, as everyone will basically have access to each board, there aren't multiple workspaces)

3 - Any other ideas  or experience on how one could manage large numbers of boards, or perhaps have additional client/project info placed in the cards would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance!!

Bob

 

 

5 answers

4 votes
Dreamsuite Mike
Community Leader
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Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
August 7, 2023

Hi @Robert Zorich I love your cryptic first paragraph, brilliant 😂

I have created a couple of Trello systems for law firms in the past, so I have some experience in this area.

 My first advice based on my experience is not to have a board per client for the following reasons:

  • The more you have, the more difficult it will be to navigate the system
  • Managing the opening and closing of these boards can be tiresome when you have so many
  • Whilst you can create a template board to create for new clients, if you want to make use of automation (Trello's greatest weapon), this process is not straightforward
  • You don't need a board per client if clients are (roughly speaking) following the same process
  • You can make use of Trello's features such as labels, filters, automations and Dashcards to represent each client on a single board...

I will answer your questions, but I really would implore you to consider the above first.

1- Am I correct that it is not possible to put "Collections" in the sidebar? If we can, that helps a LOT! In fact, answers most of my concerns, especially if we can hide other boards from the sidebar, leading to:

[Mike] Collections do not show in the sidebar, the best thing you can do to make the sidebar manageable with lots of boards is to have a naming convention and board colour coding that makes it as navigable as it can be.  You can star boards on the sidebar too.
You can also collate multiple boards into a workspace table view, of which you can create and access through the sidebar

 

2 - Can we create boards that do not show up in the sidebar? So that we can create top level boards with the categories we need, that then resolve to lists of client cards, each of which then points to a nested board (not shown in the sidebar), for the details of each case/client. (Privacy/visibility doesn't really help here, as everyone will basically have access to each board, there aren't multiple workspaces)

[Mike] As above, you can use tricks to help with the organisation and visibility of the sidebar boards.  Also as above, instead of a top level board, you could use workspace table to show cards grouped and filtered for specific boards...

https://support.atlassian.com/trello/docs/workspace-table-view/ 

You could also have a starred board at the top which is a board of boards.  You can copy and paste board links into a Trello board

Screenshot 2023-08-07 095735.png 

 

3 - Any other ideas  or experience on how one could manage large numbers of boards, or perhaps have additional client/project info placed in the cards would be greatly appreciated!

 [Mike]  I will recommend, some Trello resources:

  • I recommend this free course that Atlassian provide Trello Fundamentals 
  • You can find lots of tips and tricks on the Trello Blog 
  • Trello's strength and perhaps its weakness is its flexibility compared to other solutions so trying to get to the point of knowing how to get the very best out of it and discovering how powerful it is is trick to start.  There are experts out there, who have pretty much encountered most scenarios and most use cases and can help guide you to build the solution you want.
    Trello Consultants in the Community 
1 vote
Antonio Panea
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August 7, 2023

Hi @Robert Zorich ,

 

Totally on the same page as @Dreamsuite Mike . In addition answering to your last question, If you need to manage multiple clients across different boards, Crmble Power-Up can be a useful solution. It lets you create Contacts/Clients in Crmble, and then access their information from other boards to set up actions, projects, or deals as needed. It streamlines client management effectively.

 

If you would like to know more feel free to set up an appointment with our crew!

 

https://calendly.com/d/dq8-fps-624/crmble-demo

 

Cheers

Toni

0 votes
Violetta Chernobuk
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August 8, 2023

Hi @Robert Zorich 
I'm Violetta from Planyway team.
We've just released an article on how to manage multiple projects in Trello. Pls check it out. I'm sure, it can help:) https://planyway.com/blog/managing-multiple-projects 
If you'd like to, we can also set up a call with our customer success manager, so we can guide you through it with real examples.

Best,
Violetta

0 votes
Robert Zorich August 7, 2023

And don't take my last sentence as a put down at all. A lot can go into developing even apps for small devices like IOT devices, for instance. Sales, marketing, functional programming, user interface, customer input and requirements, bug fixing, deployment, procurement, etc. If a company is making ten varieties of these things and there are ten "Boards", then Trello can work fine in this scenario. But we have 125 active cases right now, several coming in per week and can range in complexity from a single middle class parent with one child, to a large family with a lot of money going into trusts, to young people just starting off to old folks literally on their deathbeds, to probates and executions of wills so they can take from a month to complete, to a couple of years (there is a whole category of "dormant" cases that could start up with little or no warning, for example). Anyway, we like the user interface and many of the automation features, but the learning curve and effort/expense of figuring out how to restructure everything is daunting,

0 votes
Robert Zorich August 7, 2023

Thank you. Those are all helpful suggestions.

"Managing the opening and closing of these boards can be tiresome when you have so many" - yes, this is why we are migrating. What was once a cumbersome by somewhat usable system system from that other vendor was abruptly, and without warning, destroyed, and has turned the sidebar into a giant heap of noise to work through manually.

We are still in the evaluation mode, and are not only trying to figure out how to arrange these cases/clients in something that is typical for project management tools, but also dealing with migration issues. The migration of the existing client base in Trello is very definitely an issue when compared to competitors, who can move a client in a minute or less, and have the data show up intact, and in the same "Kanban" view that the law firm wants to use, more or less as I was expecting with "collections" in the sidebar.

TBH, having decades of program management experience in very large, complex (was in aerospace before my current role), is working against me, as it would lead me to believe that boards should be one of the various functions of cards, not the other way around. As in using the "checklist" card function, cards should be able, at least as one option, to contain entire sub-projects, or sub-boards, using Trello language. If I was building a new satellite, I would have the satellite "collection" provide visibility into the cards, which would represent various functions of the satellite - navigation, propulsion, power management, science package, communications, etc. subsytems.  These would then contain the "boards" that contain all the tasks, data, teams, etc., required to get  the pieces to work together. Part of  my confusion, however, is trying to map all this non-standard terminology onto what I already know works. OTOH, It may simply be that Trello isn't designed to handle large volumes of data in this way, and is more designed for a small company managing the deployment of a few products. I really can't tell.

Anyway, thanks for the answers, I'll look into these various resources

Dreamsuite Mike
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
August 7, 2023

I have worked for MOD companies and with Aerospace companies, as well as global behemoths and it was many experiences from those companies that inspired me to build the business I have today.

My aim is to give people the kind of functionality that the huge enterprise solutions give but with the simplicity, affordability and accessibility for all businesses regardless of shape or size.

 

Trello is inherently as flat system, by design.  It was initially conceived as a tool to fit the 'Agile' age.  However, Trello is a modular system, whether you make your building blocks (modules) form cards on a board or boards, you can build it to fit your needs. In that sense, it is truly Agile because it doesn't define how you do things...

Don't discount Trello because of the scale of your projects, my first introduction to Trello was at a a company with 60000 employees worldwide.  A Trello board can over 2000 cards before you'll notice any degradation.

I think given what you are trying to achieve, the knowledge you have and the process you want, it would be a worthwhile investment to spend a couple of hours with an expert to figure out the best approach for Trello, or indeed if Trello is the right solution for you.  Trello consultants by the very nature of their job will have experience of the business software market and the ones I trust will tell you straight if what you're trying to do is a good idea.  

As mentioned in my first message, there are some people here who can help:
Trello Consultants Right Here In The Community 

but also here:

https://partnerdirectory.atlassian.com/ 

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Robert Zorich August 19, 2023

Thank you for your input. My issue isn't with smaller number of large projects consisting of many tasks/cards. It's trying to migrate a large number of small projects, with very specific types of "board" structures from Asana into Trello. Again, most of this is very close, it would just be nice if the Collections showed up on the sidebar, for more rapid access. Importing from Asana is proving to be a challenge, a direct way to do so, such as in Nifty, where it is fast and efficient, with no obvious intervening steps, such as CSV files,  and the "boards" look exactly the same after import. The boss really likes Trello, even after evaluating a number of other options, including Nifty, Clickup, Monday, Trulio, and others, and actually, overall, I agree, it's a nice program. But these migration issues are a real problem, and the "flat" structure doesn't lend itself to this sort of operation very well. Three things would make Trello near perfect: 1 - Native import from other programs without CSV; 2 - Allowing cards to hold entire boards, rather than just checklists (which is, IMO, very limiting); 3 - Putting collections on the Sidebar, which more or less negates the need for #2 (Yes, I know I can access collections without a lot of trouble, but it adds steps). Out biggest stumbling block at the moment is importing stuff.

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