I have been on the lookout for new, interesting ways to create workflows within Trello boards. Recently, I became aware of a Power-Up called Hello Epics with which you can build card dependencies in Trello.
I know that managing card dependencies in Trello is something many of us would appreciate if that were possible. Unfortunately, it is not.
So, I took the time and had a look into the Hello Epics Power-Up and tested its features.
What’s Hello Epics promise?
With Hello Epics you can create card dependencies between Trello cards and then have this connection visualized on the card’s top.
As I mentioned above, displaying a card’s connection to other cards isn’t a feature that Trello provides by default. Maybe it’s because there are several ways to have connections displayed, and Trello wants to upkeep this flexible approach for all users. However, in modern project management, being able to see the connection to other elements is a standard. And it’s not just me who is missing this as a Trello feature.
It makes total sense that someone wants to be able to “see” how cards are related, and connected to each other. And then in the next step, being able to quickly switch between related cards is a pretty logical move.
In the world of business intelligence software, this feature is a matter of course since years!
With Hello Epics, there is now a Trello Power-Up available that lets you do just that.
So, let’s have a look at how the Hello Epics Power-Up works and what can be accomplished with it.
The Hello Epics’ Card Hierarchy Function
First of all, let’s understand Hello Epic’s card hierarchy function.
When you open a Trello card in a board that has the Hello Epic Power-Up enabled, you can see how many cards are there on the level underneath.
On this card, I had set up 3 children cards for planned stopovers on a trip to China.
So, the connection process is pretty self-explanatory. On the top, you have this two extra fields that let you select whether you want to create a parent connection or a children connection.
Either or either, connections can be created within the same board or across boards.
In order to understand the details of the attachment process, you can check out this support document from Trello.
Multiple Level Hierarchies & Card Dependencies
I soon found out that it is possible to set up a multiple level hierarchy. This means this Power-Up lets you create hierarchies like parent1 – child1 – grandchild1 – grandgrandchild1, thus enabling you to build multiple level hierarchies.
A card cannot only have multiple children. A card can also have multiple parents (!).
You can also remove a card’s connection again.
If you want to change a card relationship and remove a card, simply hover over the right upper corner. A button to remove the card will appear. Press it, and the connection will be removed.
When a relationship between cards has been set up, it is a big time-saver to “jump” between cards. However, should you want to move any of these children cards to another board, make sure this board also has the Hello Epics Power-Up enabled. Whilst the connection remains established and visible on both cards, you cannot “jump” back and forth between these cards. At least not, until the Power-Up has been enabled on both boards.
Limits to the Hello Epics Power-Up
As I found out about this multiple-level-hierarchy feature, I wondered whether there’s a technical limit to it. Pushing this question through to Hello Epics support team, I was told that there isn’t.
But what’s interesting, is that it is even possible to create loops, like parent1 – child1- grandchild1 – parent1. I have tested this myself and can confirm it is working. But I am not sure whether this could impose any undesirable side effects, so I recommend to test this further if you want to use it or handle this undertaking with a bit of caution.
What’s not included in Hello Epics’ setup, is a roll-up completion status.
A parent’s card completion status solely depends on whether its direct children are completed. Should any of the children’s children cards still be incomplete, such a status would not roll up to the parent’s level. In other words, there’s no double checking.
Completing a Card’s Status
In order for a parent card to show the completion status, it needs to be defined what “completion” means. This definition happens on a board level.
Each board can be configured to recognize one of three “done” modes:
- When a card is in a list (or multiple lists) that either start with or end with a specific word you define
- When a card has checklist items and they are all complete
- When a card has a due date and the due date is checked complete
You can also opt for not tracking a completion status at all.
If you want to understand this process fully, I recommend to check out their support center article on the topic.
Hello Epics’ Search Function
There is a search function embedded which lets you search for cards already created.
It’s important to note here, that the search feature isn’t a keyword-based search, but a fuzzy search. With fuzzy searches, only non-exact matches of search items are identified. So, should you get results that aren’t a full match to your entered keyword(s), don’t be irritated. That’s the way fuzzy search is working.
Enabling the Hello Epics Power-Up
Enabling the Hello Epics Power-Up happens through Trello’s Power-Up interface.
When you enable the Hello Epics Power-Up, you are automatically on a 14-day free trial.
I found it a bit unfortunate that there’s no information to be found about the Power-Up’s pricing structure for when the trial is over.
I looked this up on their support page: it’s $3.99/month per team member when paid annually, and $5.99/month with monthly billing.
Once you are on a paid account, you can use the Power-Up’s features for an unlimited number of boards and create unlimited parent-child connections with it.
Are there Alternatives for the Hello Epics Power-Up?
Let’s talk about some alternative ways of dealing with card dependencies in Trello.
Trello’s strength is its flexibility. This is what enables millions to run their projects – with all kind of board styles and setups.
And because of this flexibility, I have to say: it depends on how you are using Trello and how your boards work.
Are you after the feature that lets you build multiple levels of card hierarchies? And do you want to be able to spot these easily – on the front of a card?
Then there is currently no other tool that I am aware of, that does the same job with equal elegance.
There are other ways of creating card dependency structures with checklists. And I will dive into this in a later article.
But if you are rather looking for a way to create links between cards, and then use such a connection to set up workflows or automated work processes – like a mirroring of comments or due dates or labels, etc. – I’d say the Butler Power-Up is probably the better tool to use.With Butler, you can easily set up one- or bi-directional links between cards and then use these links to update the connected cards. Butler opens up a whole new world for a further workflow setup, but I need to admit the visual display of related cards isn’t provided with Butler.
Hello Epics Power-Up is an easy to use tool. When testing it, I didn’t run into any noteworthy glitches. It’s convenient and can be a good enhancement if its features allow you to work more productively in Trello.
Features like those that Hello Epics provide should be a part of Trello’s standard repertoire of features. That’s my humble opinion on that. It’s a standard for project management tools nowadays to be able to click through related items.
In some way, it seems as if Trello is a bit behind the current developments, but you never know, maybe that changes somewhen soon. I appreciate that we have creative brains that develop helpful features for us – and help us this way to succeed in our projects.
Need a bit more resources for workflow creation in Trello? Here are 3 quick-win resources that may help give you ideas:
- Creating Dashboards in Trello with 3 Time-Saving Features
- Creating an Archive Repository Board in Trello
- How to Build an Automated Editorial Calendar in Trello
Have you already tried Hello Epics or are considering using it? What are your most important demands for Trello features or Trello workflows? Please leave a comment below and let me know!