Being able to create cross-board workflows in Trello wasn’t a matter of course for years. In fact, those of us small business owners that rely on tools that are easy-to-use and inexpensive, often have to accept the fact that there is a lack of functionality.

Luckily, in Trello these times are over.

The steady growth of Trello Power-Ups enable users to add features on demand. Putting us into a position to create customized use cases, individual workflows and interesting board applications.

 

With this blog post I am starting a series of articles that collect the best Trello Hacks and Workflow Tips available online. I will update this article periodically and add new use cases. (If you have new ideas or know of something that’s worth to be covered here, please scroll down to the end of the page and tell me about it!)

cross-board workflows Trello inspirITing

Cross-Board Workflows & Trello Hacks

 

Here’s an overview of the cross-board workflows & Trello hacks compiled in this article:

1 – Creating Duplicate Cards with Bi-directional Links
2 – Quickly Copying Labels from one Board to Another
3 – Manually Linking two Cards to Each Other
4 – Moving a Card Triggers the Move of its Duplicate
5 – Triggering the Twin-Card on the Dashboard to Move up the List
6 – Convert Checklist Items into Linked Cards Across Boards
7 – Create a Master-To-Do Board that Automatically Updates
8 – Moving a Card to a Specified List on Another Board
9 – Visualizing & Managing Card Dependencies
10 – Creating an Archive Repository Board

1 – Creating Duplicate Cards with Bi-directional Links

// COPY

The first cross-board workflow allows you to create a card on a board, which automatically creates a duplicate card on a second board, the motherboard, in the same swim lane. The two cards become automatically linked, which shows itself in the attachments section of the card. – Linking the cards is important if you want to follow up with card actions on the twin card!

 

cross-board workflows Trello hacks duplicate card links inspirITing

2 – Quickly Copy Labels from one Board to Another

// LABELS

Let’s say you have a set of labels in a board and would like to transfer all those (or a selection of) labels into another board. And of course, you don’t want to re-create every single label, you want it to happen right now.

What to do?

The most elegant way is to set up a dummy card and add all the labels you want to copy over to this card. – Then, copy the card to the other board.
When the card gets copied, the labels you added to the card get copied as well. Once the dummy card is on the new board, you can safely delete it. The labels will remain there.

3 – Manually Linking two Cards to Each Other

// LINK

Trello cards can be linked to each other.

cross-board workflows manually link cards Trello inspirITing
One-directional links (A –> B) are probably the most often used, and are easy to set up manually.

Bi-directional links ( A –> B & B –> A) are often used in automated processes, particularly in syncing workflows.

When there is already a one-directional link set up, here’s how you can quickly turn it into a bi-directional link:

 

Open the card. By default, cards in Trello get linked to each other in the attachments section.
In the attachments section, click on “Connect Cards”. – Now, the card linked to should appear in each card’s attachment section.

4 – Moving a Card Triggers the Move of its Duplicate

// SYNC

When you move the card that you initially created to a new swimlane, it should automatically move the attached card to the same swimlane on the Motherboard – given that the Motherboard is set up with the same list structure as the individual board.

Why would you want to do this?

Well, think of moving a task from list “To Do” into “In Progress” or “Watch”. The move would be replicated on the dashboard, allowing you observe any progress of individual project tasks in a central place.

 

Here’s a command created with the Butler Power-Up that does just that:

 

cross-board workflows Trello hacks card trigger dashboard inspirITing

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5 – Triggering the Twin-Card on the Dashboard to Move Up the List

// SYNC

Similar feature like #4, with a slight variation:

This time, not the movement of card triggers the move of its twin, but the adding of a label (or a sticker, if you wanted to) does this:

 

Twin card move cross-board workflows Trello inspirITing

 

I made the trigger a little bit more complex so that you can see that there are quite a few conditions available that allow you to set up the perfect command.

Again, this command requires that the two cards are already linked to each other. Once they are, they can be addressed for almost any follow-up actions you like.

6 – Convert Checklist Items into Linked Cards Across Boards

// CONVERT

With this workflow you can create cards from checklist items and move them across boards.

convert checklist items Trello inspirITing

 

What is this good for?
Obviously, checklist items cannot hold much information. For instance, you cannot add a due date to a checklist item. Neither can you add any comments or attachments.
Once you convert an item into a card, you’ve got all these options laid out to you.

And when you turn a checklist item into a linked card, you can automatically check the item off when the card gets marked as complete.

Here’s a sample command to set up this cross-board workflow:

command checklist item convert Trello inspirITing

This Butler rule first converts the checklist item into a linked card, and then moves this card into the board “MY VIDEO TASKS”, and there into list “TO DO”.

Imagine doing this for several boards!
Each board involved would need its own command, though.

This workflow requires just one label. But if you use several lists in your board of origin and want to transfer the linked cards into different boards, you would have to set up a command for each of those boards.

Interested in ready-made workflows for the Butler Power-Up? I have created two Workflow Kits for Automated Classic Trello Boards: a basic and an advanced version. They come with features that make the coordination of tasks in different Trello boards a pleasure: moving cards between lists, sorting cards, handling urgent tasks, dealing with overdue tasks, several archiving strategies (pick one) and history management. – Check them out!

7 – Create a Master-To-Do Board that Automatically Updates

// SYNC

Another nice application for a dashboard.

Boards set up in Trello’s classic style (“To Do”, “Doing”, “Done”) are perfectly suitable to sync their data into a central board.

cross-board workflows classic Trello boards sync inspirITing

 

Such a dashboard has a lot of advantages. Time-savings are obvious.
Gone are the tough times of checking back and forth between different project boards.

You are free to set up such a board with a full sync, or with a selective syncing mechanism.
For instance, syncing by a specific label, by an added due date or custom field could already be a huge help in your daily struggles.

 

The Butler Power-Up offers all the features needed for selective syncing. If you need a more full-fledged version, you may want to check out the Unito Power-Up.

 

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8 – Moving a Card to a Specified List on Another Board

// MOVE

You don’t always have to use card copies for cross-board workflows.

Sometimes, it’s enough to move a card across. Whilst this is a standard feature in Trello and available since long, doing so still requires 2 or 3 clicks. If you have to do this often, why not setting up a command for that?

With the Butler Power-Up this is pretty easy to do. Simply create a Rule (a Card Button would also work), and set up a command like this one:

label trigger card move dashboard Trello hacks inspirITing

 

Want to learn more about the different command types available in the Butler Power-Up? Download the Quick-Start Guide for the Butler Power-Up from my Resource Library for free!

9 – Visualizing & Managing Card Dependencies

// DEPENDENCIES

Being able to visualize the relationships between cards is something I was looking for a long time. – Sure, you can add checklist to a card to follow-up with sub-tasks. But there are also disadvantages to this approach. (I’ll talk more about this in Part 4 of this article series).

Hello Epics Power-Up Card Dependencies Visualization Trello inspirITing
Today, most standard project management tools have a feature that allows you to click “through” a related item. In Trello, that’s currently not available. But when you enable the Hello Epics Power-Up on your board(s), you get exactly that feature. I tested this and found it working so well, that I definitely wanted to bring it up here. It’s not necessarily a cross-board setup, it works “inside” a board just as well. But I wanted to stress that you can track card dependencies easily across boards.

 

In Hello Epics, each card can get a child and a parent assigned – either within the same board or across boards. Once a relationship is set, there is an icon showing up on the card’s front that also appears on the dependent cards. That’s a visualized connector.

If you would like to read a detailed review of the Hello Epics Power-Up, make sure to check out my blog. I also want to note that this is one of the Trello Power-Up’s that you have to pay in order to use, but it has a free 14-day trial.

10 – Creating an Archive Repository Board

// ARCHIVE

You know, when you “archive” a card in Trello, it is gone. It is not deleted, but it is removed from the board’s view. Stored away.

Theoretically, you can “unarchive” it. But I found the process of unarchiving a card rather tedious. It took so much time to find the one I wanted to look again, that I began thinking about a strategy of how to get easier access to my archived cards.

That’s when I came up with the idea of an Archive Repository Board.

What an Archive Repository Board basically is, is a single board whose task is to store archived cards from multiple boards into a system of weekly or monthly to-do-lists. And make them easily accessible again. That was it’s primary task.
It’s secondary task was to give me a way of seeing at a glance what I had accomplished in a week or a month.

archive repository board Trello inspirITing

 

Originally, I had designed this Archive Repository Board workflow as part of my Workflow Kit for a Master-Project Board System. But it works equally as a stand-alone setup.

All you have to do is set up a new board as the Archive Board. Then you decide whether you want a weekly or a monthly storage rhythm and begin building a dynamic list building workflow for this board. Easiest way to move forward is using the tested and approved commands in the Archive Repository Board workflow.

Lastly, for each board that you want its archived cards to be moved into this Archive Repository Board, you create the corresponding commands and you are ready to go. – I recommend to use the Butler Power-Up for all commands that need to be created for such a use case. Because Butler is pretty flexible (you can easily add more features) and very easy to use.

Do you know some cross-board workflows that should definitely be published on this site? – Let me know!

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