2018 04 30 19 06 31
May 10, 2018

Revolutionise your software development lifecycle with Trello (Part 2/4)

EG
Evan Golden 5 minute read

Welcome to the second instalment of our four-part blog series where we focus on using Trello, a lightweight, and easy to configure tool, to manage and simplify your software development lifecycle.

In part 1 we covered how to use Trello to manage feature requests, answering key questions like: 

  • How do you collect features from our customers?
  • How do you identify what features are most important to customers?
  • How do you make decisions as to what features will be selected for development?

Part 2 - Requirements management with Trello

Once you have identified and agreed on the features you want to develop, you need to track and manage your requirements. Requirements management is an iterative and continual process throughout your project lifecycle.  

This blog focuses on how to use Trello to manage and track your requirements, including:

  • Managing epics and stories
  • Dependency mapping
  • Estimation
  • Ranking

Epics and stories

In Jira, you can use out-of-the-box issues types to suit your project needs. Jira issues refer to any task you need to track and complete your project. The Jira default issue options include epics and stories.

An epic is an extensive amount of work completed as part of a project. It is a significant user story that can be broken down into smaller pieces.  A story, which is also referred to as a user story is a defined requirement which can be developed and tested.  Many teams create epics from features and then decompose those epics into stories, establishing a parent-child link between the epic and the story. 

Trello, however, does not have out-of-the-box issues. Instead, Trello has cards. There are no custom cards in Trello. All cards are the same. So, if all cards are the same, how do you establish that parent-child link which is critical to decomposing your requirements?

To create the parent-child link, you need to use a power-up called hello epics. This power-up lets you attach a parent or child to any card on your Trello board. See the images below.

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Check out the full gif on the hello-epics site

You can also track overall status of your child cards from each parent.

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Check out the full gif on the Trello site

With hello-epics, you can easily identify a parent issue, and all of its children.  It helps product managers keep track of project tasks, and gives the development teams complete visibility of all their work in one place.

Dependencies

In Jira, you can use issue links to manage dependencies between your epics, or between your stories.  If you are familiar with Jira, you will know that the issue linking feature is simple yet powerful enough to establish relationships between issues.  Trello does not have an easy out-of-the-box option to link cards.  Instead, you can use the hello epics power-up again. You can use these same parent-child relationships to track dependencies between your cards.  One of the challenges of this power-up is that the documentation is not great, and you are limited to the one link type of parent and child.  What I have seen work well (although it can be a bit weird at first) is to use the hello epics card linking with labels.  First you would create the parent-child link, and use the blocked and blocks labels as well.  This tells me that a card blocks another card lower in the list, and it is also linked to the card it blocks.

Estimation

Agile software development teams need to be able to estimate the work that needs to be completed and measure against estimations. We measure in the form of story points, and time. Our approach is very much dependent on the methodology our teams follow. In Part 3 of this blog series, we will take a deep dive into Kanban and Scrum teams working within Trello, but for estimation purposes, there are a few ways to handle this much-needed functionality.

One approach is to use labels. You can create a label per measurement, and add the labels as needed. However, I do not recommend this, as it gets messy, and you will not be able to run any reports from your labels. Another way is to add the measurement to the card summary (ie (2) Sample Card A). This too can get complicated and has no reporting functionality. However, there is another power-up I like to use that does provide a lot of this functionality, and also gives you a nice lightweight reporting dashboard.

The power-up is called Agile Tools by Corrello. You can use it to add story points to cards using the default 'Fibonacci' number options, and display the measurements on the card. You can set your own custom story point options as well. Points can be imported from numbers in the card titles. You can also view on the card if it has not yet been estimated. If you use time as a measurement, simply create your own options of story point numbers, and translate them to days-of-effort.

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Check out the full gif on the Trello site

Ranking

Development teams need to create clear requirements that can be developed against and tested.  They also need to know the order in which requirements have to be completed. Ranking requirements can be done easily in Trello.  Like on Jira Kanban boards, you can put the higher ranking requirements ordered in a top to bottom order in a list within the board. 

Another element I like to add is the priority of the requirement.  You can do this a few ways.  One way is to use the out-of-the-box labels, but another way is to create a priority field with the Custom Fields power-up.  Here you can create many different kinds of custom fields to include dates, text, and even select lists.  To display the priority, I recommend using the select list custom field. This is an added piece of information that can help developers understand the importance of a particular requirement.

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Check out the full gif on the Trello blog 

Stay-tuned for part 3!

Requirements management is critical to every product development team. Requirements are the building blocks to every product, and enable the successful decomposition of features in your product roadmap. 

In this blog we shared how you can use Trello's out-of-the-box functionality and power-ups to manage requirements, decomposition, estimation, dependency mapping, and ranking.

Join us again for part 3, where now that we have built out our requirements, we must assign them to our scrum and kanban teams to be executed.