For those of you who have not tried out Trello, I’m going to start this post by urging you to check it out (www.trello.com). It is a free online tool that is a great collaboration instrument for capturing issues during testing of your solution. It essentially replaces the hacky way of having to manage a shared Excel spreadsheet online and provides a slick, easy-to-use interface that is quite adaptable to your project needs. This post will give you three easy tips to customize your Trello board to really harness its collaborative power.
Use the Custom Fields Power Up
Trello is fairly standard out of the box. It doesn’t offer a ton of free functionality however with each Trello board you are entitled to one “power up” which is another way of saying you can extend the functionality of Trello by selecting an add-on feature for free. I highly recommend selecting the Custom Fields power up to add to your Trello board. The out of the box fields are basic but get the job done however if you want to really deepen the usage of Trello, building custom fields and tailoring the Trello cards to your exact process is a great value add. When setting up a Trello board for my projects this is the first power up that I select. It allows for the creation of custom fields such as criticality or priority of a card (you can color code these too for a dashboard look and feed). In addition to this, you can create another field that cross references with any other systems you use in your testing support phase. An example is creating a custom field to house a VSTS ID for any bugs that are created as part of the testing phase of your project.
Create Your Lists According to Issue Lifecycle
Trello allows you to categorize your cards into lists. Lists are essentially just a container of Trello cards. Since lists are presented horizontally across the screen, they imply to a novice user that they are the general progression of the lifecycle of a project testing issue so I like to structure my lists accordingly. Follow your own methodology for how you categorize bugs but a typical workflow would be New, In Progress, Ready for Testing and Closed. You can/should have ancillary lists as well for situations where additional feedback is required or where reported cards are actually additional scope and not a “bug”. Structuring your lists to mirror the issue lifecycle is a simple win when setting up your Trello board.
Document and Educate on the Process
This isn’t so much a technical tip as it is just advice on how to get Trello (or whatever tool you choose to use) embraced by your team and your customer. The whole objective is collaboration however you need to make sure that everyone is following the same process when it comes to using the tools you give them. In the past I have had success with drafting up a swimlane diagram showing the different roles (developer, tester, client) and what the process is for logging bugs when found. Sometimes a narrative can accompany this however if the process flow is structured and diagramed well enough often times that should do the trick – usually with a small presentation to walk through it.
Trello is a great tool for managing testing feedback between your team and your customer. It provides a quick, simple and intuitive interface that is highly adaptable to meet your specific processes. Follow these three tips to start your testing phase off on the right foot.