Using Trello for Product Development

Between my 4 co-ops and my two Product Manager positions, I’ve used a number of tools for product development and bug fixing including Bugzilla, TFS, Rally and Jira, each a respectable tool in its own right with Jira being my favorite.

So it quite surprised me, well maybe shocked me, to find out while interviewing with Hightower that they used what I thought to be such a simple tool for their product development process: Trello.

Ya..Trello…

And so I thought that after I started working at Hightower I would push them to start using a “real” tool like Jira.

But, I was wrong…

It turns out that Trello is quite a fantastic tool for Hightower due to its flexibility, and since Hightower’s product teams use Kanban.

We use Trello for almost every aspect of our product development. We have boards for the following:

  • Each product team
  • Bugs
  • Product Roadmaps
  • Customer Requests
  • And a lot other things I may not be privy to or don’t need to know about

Without spilling any company secrets, on each product team’s board, we’re able to see all of the following all in one place:

  • Problem/features that are being researched to validate need and proposed value
  • What’s in design
  • What’s ready for the engineering team
  • What the engineering team is currently working on
  • And what’s been recently┬áreleased

If we compare this to Jira, I would probably have to look on a number of different boards to get all this information. And that would suck!

Are there any downsides to using Trello? Definitely. For example, you can’t run reports of how many bugs were logged and fixed, or measure the team’s velocity.

These downsides don’t really matter much to us at Hightower since we tend to have fewer bugs since we have a kickass team, and we don’t care much about measuring velocity since we feel and know that we move fast.

As you can probably tell, I’m still struggling today to find a good enough reason to move over to Jira. Perhaps it will be when Hightower is 2-3 times bigger than we are today, but until that day, I will be happily using Trello.

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