This is part 1 of a 4-part series about how to automate tasks and boards in Trello.
Did you ever wish you could automate some of the manual processes in Trello, like
- adding a certain label to a card, or
- archiving a card,
- moving a card from list A to list B?
Have you ever wished there was some kind of automation feature in the background that would act as a little helper, and alleviate you from hundreds of tedious clicks? The times has come! Just recently, I came across a tool that impressed me so much with what it can do, that I spontaneously decided to write a series of blogposts about it and introduce its features and capabilities to a wider audience. Because it deserves it!
So, let me quickly say a word about Butler for Trello in general, before I point out some essentials about this tool.
Butler is a tool that works exclusively with Trello. That’s why it’s full name is Butler for Trello. Despite its high integration with Trello, Butler is separate from Trello. (If you’ve not much familiar with Trello, read my article on how to organize your business with these 18 Trello features!)
Butler was founded by Oscar Triscon, who appears to be well-known in the Trello community as well as on the Trello subreddit. Triscon saw an untapped need within Trello to automate what were manual processes, otherwise. Actions like moving a card from one status or from one list to another, assigning members to cards, and much more.
Butler is a tool that lets you automate your Trello workflows. And here’s the thing: it does it in plain English!
I know there are so many people out there who shy away from laying hands on learning a programming language because getting used to the commands and its syntax is a real challenge to them.
With Butler, you don’t need to learn a programming language to understand or even write a command. You can write commands in plain English, and Butler automatically performs its actions on your behalf.
Butler for Trello significantly lowers the entry barrier to automate tasks in Trello. And if I say it’s a game changer, that’s no overstatement. Not at all.
How to Use Butler for Trello
Butler has the capability to transform your business.
With Butler for Trello, you can automate your Trello workflows by creating powerful IFTTT-type commands for the average person.
It has the potential to completely change your workflows by stripping off many manual tasks you silently accepted so far. Yes, there are a few Power-Ups in Trello that can help you with specified tasks or tools, like Dropbox, Freshdek, Giphy, MailChimp, Jotform, and a lot more.
But the scale of what Butler for Trello can do for you is unmatched.
In order to use Butler for Trello, you have to make up your mind whether you want to use the Power-Up or the little Bot in the background, called ButlerBot. You can only use the one or the other per board. I’ll talk more about their differences in a minute (and explain things even more in detail in my free online course).
So, if you go for the ButlerBot, and that’s probably what most people would do because it lets you do so much more, you will have to connect each Trello board with Butler. That’s done in the Butler Dashboard.
After doing so, your board has a new list. It’s called the Butler List. By default, it’s in position 1, but you can drag it to the last position, or wherever you would like it. It’s this list that will later contain the commands that automate the tasks you want to have automated. In my next blog post, I will go more into the details of setting up commands, and I will give you a taste of what it actually is that you can do when you use Butler for Trello!
ButlerBot vs. Butler Power-Up
The Butler Power-Up and the ButlerBot are two different things, but they do similar things.
The first difference between the two is, that with the Power-Up there are buttons created on the card or board itself. The functions behind these buttons need to be executed manually.
The ButlerBot, on the other side, is doing everything automatically whenever a trigger occurs.
Secondly, the ButlerBot is its own separate user. So, for instance, when it creates new cards or posts a comment on a card, it does so as the ButlerBot user, not in your name. The Power-Up buttons act as yourself, i.e. the actions appear as done by yourself.
And finally, the third difference between the two is, that the ButlerBot has existed for longer and has a lot more capabilities. At the moment. I know that Ludable, the creator company of Butler for Trello, is working on the Power-Up to let it do much more.
This article is more of an introductory nature, so I am not going too much into detail why the existence of both the Butler Power-Up and the ButlerBot are beneficial for the user. But let me say that much: there is a #1 mistake user make when using Butler for Trello. And the existence of these two applications and particularly the issue that the Butler Power-Up uses a different user thatn the ButlerBot, play a significant role when finding a solution for when commands are chained.
How it Works
Butler for Trello is easy to use.
The easiest way to get started to set up workflows is by using the Command Builder. The Command Builder is a dashboard-like interface where you can select triggers and actions from dropdown lists. There’s really not much you can do wrong here. Along with the fact that the commands are written in plain English, Butler for Trello is fairly easy to use and pretty self-explanatory.
Here’s a look behind the curtain of the command builder. And you get a feeling of how much you can actually do with this tool, when you look at the available options in this animation:
So, the command builder is a great starting point to set up commands that automate your Trello boards.
But not everything can be achieved with the command builder. The more proficient user can write their own complex command chains according to what they need to achieve with a certain workflow. That requires a bit of exercise and dedication.
There’s also a public community board, in which you find tons of examples and Q&A’s from other users.
Often times, when you poke through the comments in the community board, you find answers to your questions or even new inspirations on how to set up a certain workflow in Trello. And, there is extremely supportive support staff. Their responsiveness is impressive!
Tech Lingo for Butler for Trello
Like with most other tools, there’s a bit of a learning curve awaiting you. There are some terminologies you need to know in order to understand how Butler works, as well as to communicate well and to avoid misunderstandings. These are what I’d consider the most important ones for beginners:
Action: Each action that Butler performs on your behalf usually involves one operation. Some actions, for example, sorting a list may require multiple actions, however.
Multiple Actions: A command requiring multiple actions (e.g., remove the green label and move to list “To Do”) requires as many operations as the sum of all the actions.
Operation (=Command): One operation will at the very least save you one click. Often times, it will save you multiple clicks or allow you to do something that is not even possible manually.
Weekly Quota: The weekly quota is the number of operations allowed per week.
Quota Reset: The quota resets every Sunday at midnight GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
When just starting out, you will probably stick with the free plan. It’s ideal to figure out how the ButlerBot or the Butler Power-Up is working and what it’s actually capable of doing.
With the free plan, you can currently* run up to 25 command runs per week with the Butler Power-Up. It’s important to know, that every time the button of the Power-Up is pressed, it counts as a command run. This quota of 25 commands is reset every Sunday at midnight GMT.
If you prefer to use the ButlerBot instead, there’s a limit on operations that are allowed per week – on any plan, not only the free plan. An operation (=command) can perform multiple actions at once. Think of it this way: a Butler operation can save you many manual clicks. And the total of these saved clicks shall not be more than 250 per week – if you are on a free plan. If it’s more, it simply stops executing the commands.
The threshold is higher for paid plans, though. Once you hit the limit or need some commands that are only accessible with a paid plan than it’s time to upgrade. There are currently* two different paid plan options, the most affordable is the Silver Platter, which comes with a price tag of $10/mth. Acknowledging the work it frees me off, I find that’s a very generous and valuable offer!
*Conditions on pricing plans are usually subject to change. Don’t sue me, if you find that conditions are not anymore what they used to be!
☆ Resource Tip ☆
Do yourself a favor, and learn how to create automations & workflows in your Trello boards.
(Psst! It looks like it, but it’s no magic!
– You can do it!)
Over to You
Found this intriguing and want to know more how Butler for Trello is working?
I have created a free online course that teaches you the beginnings with Butler for Trello and guides you through setting up your Trello boards with Butler for Trello, run your first commands and revealing a few special tricks for getting started.
Whether you need some help with cleaning up your boards or want to bring a system in place that helps you with this uber-workload of managing your tasks in Trello, this online course is a good point to start. (Don’t tell anyone, but there is more to come! 🙂 ) And what do you have to lose?