Distributed review of documents using Trello

With the initial public offering we released a marketing brochure. This 24 page booklet was made by 24 people from 4 different companies in 2 different cities. The schedule was extremely tight and the brochure had to be error-free.

From the start we decided that we’re not going to implement the “million emails” process. Reading the emails is time consuming, the threshold for correcting a minor mistake is bigger, it’s hard to stay up to date with the modifications, and some of the requests for modifications are unnoticed. In addition, the emails about the modification just adds up to the already huge pile of emails.

We wanted to do something smarter. We ended up trying Trello in controlling the revision modifications.

It was expected that the first draft would receive a ton of comments. That is why we created a new list for every spread of the brochure. This turned out to be a good decision, since some spreads had up to 14 errors that needed to be corrected.

From this point forward, for every new version of the brochure we created a list where the most up to date version was on the top and cards for every modification were added underneath it.

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Instead of moving single cards to the “DONE” list, we used color codes in the cards. It was crucial that a full modification history could be easily tracked throughout the whole project. Therefore Eero, who was responsible for the layout of the brochure, marked the cards green when he had taken the modifications into account. All the discussion about the modifications was also done by utilizing the cards.

Other colors were also used:

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With Trello we reviewed ten versions of the brochure, and recorded about 300 suggestions for modification.

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All in all, the method we used worked very well. In the beginning, some of the reviewers sent modifications by email, from where they were always entered in Trello anyway. Eventually the resistance ended and everyone shifted in using Trello.

The mobile app for Trello also turned out to be very practical. The brochure was reviewed almost around the clock. Every modification on the board created a notification, so it was easy to stay on track no matter where you were.

Would I change something for the next time? The actual reviewing process worked well, but for the first couple drafts it would have been easier to share the document via Google Docs instead of a PDF made with InDesign. The comments for the first drafts could have also been shared via Google Docs. We began editing the layout of the brochure too early, which resulted in frustration because there were too many significant modifications yet to come.

Pasi Kovanen

Pasi Kovanen
Software with Passion.

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