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Project management

Why is so different from every project management tool on the market

Roy Mann 5 min read
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We say we’re not a project management tool, but what does that really mean? is probably the most versatile tool you’ll find—it’s a veritable Swiss Army knife for managers around the world.

Yes, you can use to manage all your projects, but you can also use it as a CRM, to manage your ad campaigns, to track bugs, to manage customer projects, and to manage video production. There are probably several different hundreds ways to use it, and we’ve found teams use it for just about everything: from teachers planning their lessons to engineers building airplanes.

I’d like to shed some light on what makes so vastly different from other tools on the market. There are a few key distinctions that make it something that people can’t live without, and that replaces many of the other tools they’re using, such as email, Excel, and other project management tools.

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You need to focus on processes, not tasks

A static checkbox marking a task as “done” or “not done” doesn’t provide enough information for team members and managers to know where things really stand. Things are always more complex than that. What about, “delayed for a day”? What about, “I’m waiting for someone’s input before I can move forward”?

These real-life statuses are not incorporated into any project management tool; it’s always communicated outside the tool in email threads, meetings, and discussions. We know that things are never that simple, so focuses on processes. We make it really easy to convey information about a project or task in a structured way that can be replicated for future processes. That improves all aspects of management and communication. You can do everything in, and it’s transparent for everyone else on your team to see. Bottom line: With, you’re thinking about processes.

You need something visual, not text-based

Text is best for when you’re sitting down with a good book. When you look at a text-based system—and they’re all text-based—you need to read everything you see to know what’s going on. This takes time, and when you’re super busy, you’ll miss things. is completely visual. The colored statuses just pop out at you, so you know where things stand at a glance without having to read anything.

Visuals are amazingly powerful for team management: it allows you to define processes and communicate without words. When you display on a screen in your office, people can see where things stand from a distance. Visuals are effective, not open to interpretation, and clear to everyone. Bottom line: A board is worth a thousand words.

You need to work with a grid, not a hierarchy

When we spoke with hundreds of managers in the early days of building, we learned that everyone uses spreadsheets or grids to manage their high-level. People think in grids, not in hierarchy. It’s an intuitive, flat way to organize information—we all do it. That’s why we built the board to be a grid, and there’s very little to no hierarchy in our system.

Most project management tools rely heavily on hierarchy. That’s a problem: hierarchies are really hard to navigate and there’s always a few different ways to construct them. It’s confusing. When was the last time you found a file in someone else’s computer folders? Bottom line: Humans think in grids; they are intuitive physical design.

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You need to focus on the big picture, not tasks

No one can make sense of where a three-month-long project stands from the tasks it’s composed of. We often don’t even know where things stand within a single task. Even when something is “done,” there’s a lot we don’t know, so we ask: “Did you let everyone know?” “Did you send it?” We do this because we know that just because a list of tasks is complete, the project isn’t necessarily done. So we have meetings and go back and forth in lengthy email threads to make sure we meet our deadlines. This means the tools aren’t actually helping you complete your work better or faster.

The solution for this is to take a top-down approach: set a goal, map out a process, and track where everything stands. It’s the only way to plan. In, one simple board holds all the information. No need to ask people or sync up during meetings; everyone just knows. The bottom line: Most tools just list work; actual management is done outside these tools. You need to focus on the big picture. Let’s face it: almost every management tool on the market just lists work, focusing on projects and tasks. focuses on processes, which is what management and operations are really all about.

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