Take Trello swim lanes to the next level with more comprehensive workflows

Posted by Manuel da Costa / categories: Process, Productivity
Trello’s primary project management feature, their boards, enables you to sort tasks according to categories. Often these categories are progress-based, defined by the stage of a project towards completion. Yet, they allow for the flexibility of an organization to define as it sees fit.
 
They’re a great structure for start-ups and help a small team stay focused on their productivity. However, as any company grows, it must seek solutions for scaling and automating processes and tools that can help it accomplish that.
 
In the conversion rate optimization space, there are initial ideation and hypothesis development processes and concluding summary and report processes. While Trello boards supply a strong foundation for a CRO team’s development activities, smart tools exist for expanding and creating new efficiencies in their pre- and post-testing efforts.
 

Understanding Kanban and swim lanes

 
If your job title doesn’t include project management, you probably aren’t thinking about the specifics of how your projects and workloads are balanced. It may be more about making to-do lists and checking them off. However, understanding the process underneath the card shifting madness can help you better evaluate you existing project management system, identify what tools your team might need and identify what solutions provide them.
 
Kanban, the underlying methodology to Trello’s board structure, originates from a Japanese efficiency model, based on three categories: to-do, doing, and done. Using these three categories, you can outline fundamental swim lanes.
 
Swim lanes are the elements that sort project responsibilities within a business process. They can be visualized as either rows or columns, but both identify clear, discrete categorizations for progress check points.
 

 Swim lanes for CRO

 
Using a Kanban-structured project management tool like Trello provides some clear efficiencies to agency teams as well as in-house optimizers. Swim lanes provide a useful structure for visualizing the flow of project responsibilities. They give a visibility to overall progress that enables everyone to focus on accomplishing their tasks. Anyone on the team can identify where a test variant is in its progress to going live and determine priorities quicker.
  
The three-lane Kanban model is appropriate for general use, but in marketing and optimization, using the lanes to mirror various teams or their check points is a more valuable methodology. The swim lanes for a team or department-centric structure would follow the path from optimizer to design to development and publishing. Whereas a check point-focus would base progress on milestones across teams, like receiving approvals on each step or a cross-team QA check. Either are useful in their specificity to the process, and selecting one is a matter of how your team works best.
 
In addition to the swim lanes for work progress, optimization teams face an increased complexity and customization that warrants tailored systems that focus on those specifics. While Trello is an affordable method for organizing team processes, CROs must consider the efficiencies of their efforts from a wider scope.
Image source: Imgur. Trello example development board.
Maintaining a list of testing ideas and hypotheses is just as essential to success as understanding progress on design and development. Organizing an ideas list on your Trello board or as a spreadsheet neglects the value that a more robust format would provide.
 
Just as projects are managed in a dedicated board, the ideas list should be organized in a board, focused on ideas, prioritizations, and tests. Further, in a dedicated CRO tool, this list also allows for attribution of testing ideas to analysis tools as well as building out testing documentation.

Image source: Effective Experiments. Idea and hypothesis documentation board.

An optimizers mindset is always set on finding the best solution possible, through testing and continuous improvement to the user experience. Evaluating your organization’s workflows is no different. Finding the right tool for your team encourages communication and increases visibility into a team’s efficiencies or lack thereof. It identifies methods for streamlining and automating work when possible and can create new opportunities for a team to save time.