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Managing processes with Trello and Placker
Managing processes with Trello and Placker

How Placker helps teams in managing manufacturing, production and other process based board layouts.

Reinder Visser avatar
Written by Reinder Visser
Updated over a week ago

There is a fundamental difference in boards that track 'projects/activities' and boards that track processes. In this article I'll briefly discuss the difference in dynamics between the two types and then dive into challenges in managing process based boards, and how to solve them in Placker.

We are actively improving process based planning, tracking and reporting with Placker. We'd love to hear from you in the chat when we can help make your life easier. Let us know any questions, feedback, tips and ideas you might have. This article is work in progress and will be updated as we release more features.

Different board types require different solutions

Project / activity based boards

Let's say you create a board for moving in to a new house, then every card can be an activity you and your family needs to complete when moving houses. Here a card is mostly a single action, with a single owner and a single plan date. Moving houses is also a project with a start and end date. At some point you should have this project completed. Project management techniques usually work well to address this kind of work.

Process based boards

Now you are running a small carpenter shop where you take orders from customers to produce custom made furniture. When an order is received, it follows the following process steps:

  • Sales, where the offer is made.

  • Manufacturing, where furniture is being manufactured and wrapped for shipping

  • Delivery, where the furniture is being shipped to the customer.

Here one card is one order that follows this process, this order will have a planned start/stop date for each of the process steps and probably an owner for each of them as well. A card on this board is more 'fluid' then a card on a project board. The process itself does not have an end date, we expect to manage orders on this board continuously (that is, until we stop the business). This is also known as operations management.

Planning processes

For process based board it needs to be clear where the cards are in the process, so we recommend creating a board layout where that uses lists for each of the process steps. The main process for our shop can look like the layout of this board (click to see the video on how you can plan your cards in Placker).:

For Planning, however, I will need an overview on when each card will be in which step. To do this we also track the process in a checklist on the card, and use the checklist item due date to plan the phases. We use the Gantt chart in Placker to do this visually, and to resolve any planning conflicts.

Uh-oh... Assuming I can only work on one order at the time, I can see that this planning won't work. Clicking in the resource plan highlights the tasks that are conflicting for me so I can easily resolve them.

Replanning the task shows everything in green, that looks like a feasible plan. Note that the delivery phase show a bit of red, which is not a problem as there is sufficient capacity in shipping packages.

Tracking a simple process:

In this board a card moves from left to right, and as the card progresses, the checklist items on the cards will get completed automatically (using Placker mirror rules). We don't only capture the end date, we also capture the actual start date on when the card moved into the stage. Doing so allows you to get a lot more insight in your process, how long do cards stay in certain steps, where are your bottlenecks, etc.

Click the video to learn more, below you can see an example dashboard that shows your process flow and statistics on cycle and lead time of your process.

Tracking a process across multiple boards

But wait... Processes are usually not this simple. When 'Manufacturing' actually means a full process with 4 steps, probably done by a different team, a separate board will be involved. Placker can make checklist item to card mirror that allows you to continue to track to overall progress on your main board, while the manufacturing card is being managed on its own board. Mirror links make it possible to easily navigate between the cards across boards.

How to setup your boards

We are using lists, cards and checklists to track the progress of the processes on your boards, this is how you can setup your boards.

Create lists for each process step

The process is obviously the most important visualization for a process based board, which is why each process step should get a list. With this layout you can immediately see where the cards are in the process.

Add waiting steps in case the next process step does not immediately follow on the previous step. For example, when a order moves from sales to manufacturing, and manufacturing does not start immediately after sales, add a 'waiting for manufacturing' step in between the process steps. Doing so allows you to track the waiting time between process steps as well.

Be sure to create a description/template lists as the first list, where you can add cards that explain how the board works and add the process template.

Create a process template card

The process will also be tracked on the process checklist of the card, to make sure the checklists are added when a card is created, create a template card on the process board that contains a process checklist with the process steps.

Tip: In this template card you can add additional checklists, for example when you like to add a 'quality check' checklists for things that should not be forgotten during manufacturing, extending the template is the way forward.

This video shows the layout for the main process board:

Setup placker board automations

There are three automations that that are most relevant for process based board:

  • Create a mirror card on a sub board, when the card is moved to the process list, which is set on the main board in the video below.

  • Set the status of the checklist item to started and completed as the card moves in and out of the process step. Which is shown on the sales board in the video below.

  • Update the status of the cards automatically as the card moves from one list to another list. Which is setup on the sales board in the video below.

Got any questions?

We are actively developing this feature to make it simpler to setup and add more advanced features, let us know when you have any questions or when we can help you to get set. We can, for example, setup the rules for you, if you like.

Get started today!

Ready to get started, install the Projects by Placker Power-Up on your board and import your board in Placker. Let us know in the chat when you need any assistance.

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