App of the Week – Trello

trelloWelcome to a new academic year USMA cadets, faculty, and staff! With the new year brings new technology–in the form of 4,000+ cadet iPads! Since USMA Library staff members are always looking for the best resources to recommend to our users, we are starting a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

Trello – Task Management

If you are a visual person when it comes to task management, Trello is an online tool that can help to bring some order out of to-do chaos either for a single person, or for teams. For me, if something is out of sight, it really is out of mind. Most other task/project management tools tend to show you things that need to be done now, while obscuring things that may need to be done later, or that aren’t requiring specific action right now, but that you want to keep track of. Trello’s model of lists and cards allows for a variety of different topics (to-dos, delegations, ideas, etc.) to live side by side in a way that can be easily scanned and reviewed.

Brainstorming is also easy to do in Trello, and with some features like voting on individual cards, could provide another effective way to gather input from groups in a collaborative, visual way. We have not yet tried this in the library, though we may do so in the future.

Personally, I keep two main boards, one that I try to keep all my own activities tracked on, and another for the Library generally (Library staff have access to the latter. Those without accounts can let me know and I can set them up). I have a number of other boards for smaller projects, as well as one board shared with each team leader in the library. The Communications Team has used Trello for some time to plan out and track social media/blog posts.

Perhaps one of the best features of Trello is that the basic product is free to use, even in a team setting. There is a paid tier that offers greater customizations and control for organizations, though the basic product is quite robust for general use. Perhaps the biggest issue in my mind is poor printing support. So if someone does not have access to a screen and is linked into your board, it is difficult to share it with them. Trello does not run so well on our approved versions of Internet Explorer. Current versions of Firefox or Chrome are the best tool, along with good iOS/Android apps.

For more in-depth feature and product reviews on Trello, check out the following online articles:

by Christopher D. Barth, USMA Librarian with some content contributed by Lauren Dodd Hall, Circulation Librarian.