Recently, I came across Trello.com, a cloud-based collaboration system that is remarkably like the pre-computer “logistics boards” used by railroads and trucking companies to keep track of vehicles, personnel, and freight.

Just like a physical board, Trello “boards” are built from columns (called “lists”), which hold “cards.” Each card has “tasks” and “checklists” that can be assigned to “Organizations” and “Members,” which you set up to share your boards online. Cards are then moved from list to list to show the progress of whatever it is you’re tracking.

TOTAL FLEXIBILITY

You set up Trello however it suits your operation. Each “board” could represent a different business unit, geographic area, or project type. Each “list” could be a project or stage of a project (Sold, In-progress, Completed, In-warranty). Cards could be a single task in a larger project or an entire work order (Pro-Handyman/HVAC).

Color coding can track crews or types of projects (orange — decks, blue — roofs) or individual service vans or employees (Dan — green). Cards can have a completion checklist, and you can attach files (drawings, scopes of work) to each card.

CYBER ADVANTAGES

Just like the old logistics boards, Trello is visual. But instead of being stuck on a wall, Trello boards can be viewed anywhere using a Web browser or with dedicated smartphone/tablet apps. Project updates are posted in the system and are also sent by email.

The price is right, too — free. Developer Fog Creek Software has stated it will keep the core system free but is looking to add “for-pay” modules — the “freemium” (free+premium) model that has become a popular way to introduce “cloudware” to the marketplace. —Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant helping remodelers be successful with their technology. twitter.com/moucon; jstoddard@mountainconsulting.com. Read more from Joe Stoddard.

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