Web team workflow using Trello, Zapier and Airtable

Last year, I wrote about our Trello workflow and set-up. After a year of use, I’ve made some updates to improve how we label our tasks and roll up reports for senior management.

Welcome to Trello 2.0.

About our team

We have a distributed work team with employees in several different provinces. Trello is what we’re using to assign and manage web tasks across the team.   For 2019, I’ve also set up automation using Zapier to populate Airtable reports for active tasks and completed tasks.  (More on Airtable reporting below.)

Email is terrible

Discussing tasks through emails is a surefire way for team members to miss important information. Whether it’s not being cc’d on a reply or having to deal with the daily email avalanche, keeping task discussions and updates with the task in Trello means no one is left out.

Using the email-to-board feature, I email all new requests to the Trello board for triage.

Trello board set-up

For this show and tell, I’ll look at the current set-up for our team tasks board.

Current team requirements:

  • Use the Trello board at weekly team planning meetings.
  • Capture all new task requests and triage them.
  • Include lists for active tasks, upcoming tasks and tasks that are on hold.
  • Label cards by the goal for the content.
  • Use custom fields for request details.
  • Use the completed tasks list to inform analytics team for monthly dashboards.
  • Automate completed tasks cards to an Airtable for senior management review.

Automating tasks in Trello

The Trello lists are organized to make it easy to see where tasks are at in the publishing workflow and to automate adding new tasks and completed tasks in Airtable.

Previously, we were updating a shared Google document with our active tasks and completed tasks for senior management.  These data points were already being captured through the Trello cards.  To streamline reporting and save time, I was able to automate this task using Zapier to send task details from Trello to Airtable.

The reporting Airtable has two main views: Active projects and Completed projects.  To automate populating these reports, I have two ‘zaps’ set up:

  • New cards added to the ‘Backlog’ get added to the Airtable Active projects report.
  • Cards moved to the ‘Completed’ Trello list get added to the Airtable Completed projects report.

Yay robots!

Organizing active tasks in Trello

The Kanban workflow works well for web publishing.  However, instead of having only one ‘in progress’ list, we keep an ‘in progress’ list for each of the team’s three strategic areas: content, analytics/testing, and technical.

Our Trello lists:

  • Projects
  • Triage
  • In progress: Content
  • In progress: Analytics / Testing
  • In progress: Technical
  • Stalled / Waiting on others
  • Upcoming: next week
  • Future log
  • On hold
  • Completed
  • Temporary content

Power-up: Using custom fields for Trello cards

Custom fields give team members an “at a glance” status for tasks. These fields are also used to populate the Airtable reports.

Custom fields include:

  • Website section
  • Task type
  • Client name
  • Page URL
  • Status

Task triage

When a request comes in through email, I use the email-to-board feature to send it right away to the board’s Triage list. Email is a deep dark hole.

Once in Trello, I edit the card to have all the task related information:

  • Due date
  • Description of task
  • Location of content / images
  • Team members assigned
  • Labels for website goal
  • Client name
  • Type of task (new content, revisions, design, technical, etc.)
  • Page URL
  • Status

I have a Google Doc with all the details for how the Trello card is set up.

Assigning tasks and filtering

To figure out who can take on new requests, I rely on Trello’s filters. I hit the ‘F’ key and filter by team member. With a small team, it’s easy to see who can take on new requests based on the number of active tasks in the ‘in progress’ lists.

What happens in Trello, stays in Trello

As much as possible, we use the task cards for discussions. This keeps all related information about a task with the task. No searching through emails. If another team member ever needs to pick up a task, everything they’ll need to know is directly in the card.

Automating reports with Airtable

Management doesn’t need to see the working details for active and completed tasks.  By automating sending key task information into an Airtable, they quickly can see the team’s current workload and have access to view completed tasks by the last 30 days or the full year.

The Trello fields that are used to populate the Airtable are:

  • Card title (the task name)
  • Due date
  • Label: website goal
  • Custom field: Website section
  • Custom field: Type of task
  • Custom field: URL
  • Label: Assigned team member(s)

For fun, we can also see our yearly tallies of how many requests we completed for each website goal.

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