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Last updated on 11/28/19

Create Roadmaps with Trello

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An Introduction to Trello

Trello is a communication tool that organizes projects into boards. The benefit of working with a board in this way is that you can see at a glance what is being worked on by whom.

A Trello board is a list of lists - where each list contains a set of items (called cards).

The Structure of Trello

Trello allows you to add lists, which then appear beside each other horizontally (left to right). You can add cards to any list which is like adding items.  When you add cards, they appear vertically one beneath another from top to bottom.

The lists typically represent a status which can be updated by dragging it from one list to another. Imagine you had a to-do list and a list of items that were "in progress" and "done." In Trello, you would drag a given card from the "in Progress" list to the "done" list to indicate the change in status for this work item.

The Structure of Trello
The structure of Trello

Creating Roadmaps with Trello

The structure of Trello lends itself perfectly to being a place to host product roadmaps.

You simply need to add a few lists. Make one list called, "About this Roadmap" where you create one card each for your disclaimer, contact information, and other general information. Next, create a list for each of your three broad timeframes.

Therefore, if you had timeframes of Near-Term, Medium-Term, Far-Term, you would create four lists in Trello and name them like this:

  1. About this Roadmap

  2. Near-Term

  3. Medium-Term

  4. Far-Term 

At this point, your Trello board should look like this:

Trello lists created and named appropriately
Trello lists created and named appropriately

Now you are ready to start adding to the roadmap!

Adding Cards to your Trello Roadmap

Now that your lists are created, it is time to add cards.

As stated above, you want to add a few cards to the "About this Roadmap" section, such as a disclaimer card where you might explain that this roadmap is not written in stone, is subject to change, and is not a hard promise. You also want to add a "Contact Info" card.

Then add a card for each theme/feature to the relevant broad timeframe section. For example, if you are working on a theme called "Reduce Fraud by 5%" in the Far-Term plan, then you would add a card called "Reduce Fraud by 5%" and place it in the Far-Term list.

Once you have added all your themes/features, your roadmap should look a bit like this:

Adding info and themes to our Broad Timeframes
Adding info and themes to our broad timeframes

 
 

Advanced Trello Features that  Help Roadmap Creation

  1. Privacy settings: You can choose to make the roadmap visible on three levels: personal, team, and public. One roadmap can be for the employees of your organization that is shared with the team. A second public roadmap can be created, updated, and shared publically. This enables you to keep internal roadmaps visible internally and public roadmaps visible to the public.

  2. Collecting feedback: You can enable comments and votes.  Many choose to enable voting only on their public roadmap as the comments tend to be unhelpful (e.g., people asking for new features rather than commenting on existing). In order to collect feedback, consider enabling comments and votes on a public board. Customer votes are very interesting but the project manager has the ultimate responsibility for prioritizing and understanding the customer's job-to-be-done. (not just picking the card with the most votes!)

  3. Customization: You can change the colors and background image of your board. To upload a custom image, you will have to upgrade to the paid version of Trello. However, they have a large library of existing photos as part of the free plan. While Trello is hosting your roadmap, it's a good idea to customize wherever possible to reinforce your brand.

  4. Labeling: You can add labels and colors to your board. This visually groups elements and clusters them together which makes the roadmap more readable and visually pleasing.

A Trello list showing cards with votes and labels
A Trello list showing cards with votes and labels

Summary

  • Trello is a collaboration tool that lets you create lists of lists.

  • Creating a roadmap on Trello is easy - just create a list for each of your broad timeframes and then add cards for each theme or feature.

  • Trello has privacy settings for personal, team, and public roadmaps- which means it can be used for both public and private sharing.

Additional Resources

  • Take a tour of Trello.

In the next chapter, we look at how to share roadmaps. In particular, how to decide what to put in public and private roadmaps.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement