8 Problems You’ll Face By Using Trello for Agile Web Development

Trello is simply a digital mimic of an office whiteboard with sticky notes. Using Trello for agile web development will have you face these 8 problems.

Trello is a great Kanban software if you’re a small startup or a company that’s just getting started with a project management tool.

Trello was created based on the kanban concept of using sticky-notes and office boards to track progress. While the sticky note-like card represents a task in Trello, the board represents a project. And it is divided into columns such as Todo, Doing, and Done to represent a card’s status at a given point in time.

This simplicity and ease of use are what everybody loves about Trello. This tool was essentially built for all purposes from web designing to wedding planning! But, if you’re on the lookout for a project management software that supports agile web development, you’ve got to consider other project management tools as an alternative to Trello.

If you’re still contemplating using Trello for web development, here are some of the main problems you’ll be faced with.

Problems with Using Trello for Web Development

Being a squad that builds software products, here are 8 problems you’ll encounter while using Trello for web development that will turn the entire buildout process into a nightmare.  

Problem 1: Does not support agile reports

Reports, in general, come in handy when you wish to monitor and get a clear picture of your software product’s progress at any given point in time. It is no different in agile as well.

With reports and charts such as sprint burnup, burndown, and cumulative flow diagram, you can have a clear insight into your workflow’s advancement. That is, you can get a straightforward expectation vs reality comparison of how you expected your sprint to move forward and how it is currently proceeding. This will give you an understanding of where your buildout process stands presently.

Reports are also useful to analyze the previous outcomes of sprints and agile workflows to identify the pain-points and better plan the forthcoming workflows. Without an agile report, you will not only struggle to be transparent with your stakeholders regarding your squad’s progression but you will also easily lose sight of your software product’s vision.

In Trello, you can't get any of these reports for free. You can only get your hands on them by adding power-ups and third-party integrations with popular services and applications. Trello even enables integration with apps like Zapier, a web app automation service, that can automate report generation.

But these power-ups and integrations cost money.

This means you end up paying more when you can get it free in alternative agile tools.

Problem 2: No dedicated view to run Sprints for Scrum teams

Sprints are an integral aspect of agile, particularly scrum. Planning your sprint backlog efficiently to carry out your sprint without any hiccup is one thing but actually getting them done is a whole other level of difficulty.

And to get your sprint right, you must ensure that your sprint goes according to plan and you get most of the work items in your sprint backlog done if not all of them. This is no joke, right? You’re going to need all hands on deck and a scrum tool that can provide all the assistance you require for this mammoth job.

I can feel you nodding your head vehemently in agreement.

Not having a dedicated view to keep an eye on your sprints only makes things harder than it already is. For such a core process, if you had to use the same kanban board, it becomes a stitched up process. That’s exactly what will happen if you're considering using Trello for scrum.

Problem 3: Simplicity comes at the cost of structure

Trello is undoubtedly one of the simplest PM tools to use and onboard new members. But once your squad grows, so will its requirements. And Trello will fail to meet those requirements because it lacks structure.

In Trello, you only have a kanban board with multiple columns representing statuses to which cards are assigned. Initially, when your squad is small and the workload is less, this simplicity will allow you to add a small number of cards and painlessly move it around depending on progress.

But as soon as your squad grows in size and your workload increases proportionally, your boards will appear to be overflowing with cards. This will make it insanely complex to grab a hold of what’s going on and who must be doing what. Because when your software lacks structure, your buildout process will lack clarity.  

Problem 4: Can track only task cards in a Board, not features

Tasks are a basic, small units of work in a buildout process. While building software using a PM tool, for making the whole buildout process easy, the product gets broken down into features that get further broken down into tasks and subtasks to be worked on.

Although it is integral to be able to monitor the completion of each item, having a quick overview of the feature’s progression, on the whole, is equally essential to assess the velocity of the web development process. Additionally, having a feature progress monitoring functionality can help swiftly judge whether the feature can be shipped in time.

Trello does not provide the functionality to keep tabs on the onward movement of a feature(s) but only to monitor the cards and subtasks. Thus, this missing functionality makes planning sprints more time consuming as you can’t get a quick glance of a feature’s overall advancement.

Problem 5: Gaining visibility of the entire development process is hard

Being a product manager, you must have complete visibility of which team member is working on what work item and how far they have completed it. Only when you have this sort of visibility can you monitor progress and facilitate the smooth functioning of the entire squad.

Complete visibility of your product team’s work enables you to evenly distribute work, identify bottlenecks, and resolve conflicts due to dependencies if any. This transparency that allows you to step-in wherever and whenever required is difficult to achieve with a tool like Trello.

Since attributes such as the ability to have an overview of a feature’s advancement and an in-built dashboard are absent, Trello is less than ideal to attain complete visibility of the web development process.

Problem 6: Impossible to build customer-focussed software

At the end of the day, customer satisfaction is supreme and all that is built is built keeping them in mind. For this purpose, all companies big or small collect customer feedback and analyze this feedback to build customer-focussed features for their software.

Apart from Sentry and Zendesk integrations, Trello offers no functionality that enables you to gather customer feedback from various external sources such as Intercom, Canny, GitHub Issues, etc., and input it as a card other than manually doing so. Sounds exhausting and time-consuming, right? It is after all your project management app’s purpose to make managing work easy for you and not difficult.

Trello doesn’t do justice in this aspect. And that’s precisely why it is impossible to build customer-focussed software with Trello.

Problem 7: Collaborating on product design changes is hard.

There’s no agile implementation without team collaboration. And an important aspect of collaboration in web buildout is suggesting changes to the UI, which isn’t an easy job.  Especially with the current situation where squads are working remotely, collaborating and communicating changes to the UI is becoming frustratingly difficult.

The project management app that you’re using for web buildout must not only support file sharing to share your design files but also provide some functionality to enable teammates to provide their non-technical feedback trouble-free. And the best way to communicate this feedback is in the form of visual feedback.

Trello, unfortunately, does not provide any feature to address this problem.

Problem 8: Pricing

Trello offers a free plan and 2 paid plans. The free plan supports the collaboration of unlimited users but comes with a catch - only a limited set of features can be accessed. And since most of the key functionalities in Trello are available only in the form of power-ups and third-party integrations, you are forced to adopt a paid plan.

You can avail any one of the two plans - business class starting at $ 9.99/user/month billed annually or $12.50/user/month billed monthly and an enterprise plan starting at $17.50.  

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