Concept of agile development. Human hands sticking papers on board for analyzing strategy tasks. Scrum team use kanban methodology works on business project.
Image: Kudryavtsev/Adobe Stock

Every business on the market needs help managing workflows, projects and communications. That means employing project management software of all types. From kanban to Gantt, to communication and collaboration, there are so many tools you need to keep the work flowing effortlessly.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

Most of the time, you’ll be using a collection of tools to keep those projects and teams well managed. But knowing which tools to put together can sometimes be a bit of drudgery. Because of that, let’s take a look at two tools you will most likely be selecting from in your efforts to piece together the best project management software combination you can find.

Two of those tools are Trello and Slack.

To pit these two against one another would be unfair, as they both serve different purposes within the realm of best project management tools. However, knowing what Trello and Slack can do for you will help guide you to make the right decision.

With that said, let’s get to the products.

What is Trello?

Trello is a web-based kanban board (Figure A) and list-making service, developed by Trello Enterprises (a subsidiary of Atlassian). Although Trello does have a fairly low market share (roughly 1.6%), it’s still a very valid option for any business looking to add kanban into their workflow.

Figure A

My personal Trello account makes it easy to track my fiction writing.
My personal Trello account makes it easy to track my fiction writing.

What is Slack?

Slack (Figure B) is one of the most-used communication/collaboration platforms on the market. With Slack, your teams can easily communicate via dedicated Workspaces and share files to keep everything moving forward in a collaborative effort.

Figure B

Slack makes team communication with multiple organizations or workspaces incredibly efficient.
Slack makes team communication with multiple organizations or workspaces incredibly efficient.

What are the main features of Trello?

Trello is all about kanban. Of all the kanban offerings on the market, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that offers a better ratio of user-friendliness and features. Trello doesn’t overwhelm the user with too many options and, instead, keeps everything very relevant to kanban.

As far as kanban is concerned, Trello nails it with easy drag-and-drop cards that offer users quick back and front card overviews with in-line editing, a progress meter checklist, data filters and much more.

If you’ve ever experienced kanban, you owe it to your teams and your company to give Trello a test run. This service is best-in-class in kanban and can help your teams better collaborate and bring a level of efficiency to your project management that you’ve never experienced.

Aside from the straight-up kanban offering, Trello does also offer built-in discussion tools, such as one-to-one chat sessions, group meetings, file sharing and comments. And with Dropbox, Box and Google Drive integration, Trello makes your team collaboration efforts even easier.

But is Trello alone enough? Given the combination of kanban and communication tools, you might think you wouldn’t need to add another piece to the puzzle. That assumption might be on the spot for some. However, the one caveat to using Trello as a single point of contact for project management and communication is that the third-party integration does require a bit of coding knowledge. That’s all fine and good if you have a capable development team on staff. If not, and you need to expand the communication capabilities of Trello, you might be out of luck.

That’s where Slack comes in.

What are the main features of Slack?

Slack is all about communication and collaboration … but not so much about project management. You won’t find a kanban board or Gantt chart in Slack. What you will find is nearly every feature you can imagine for communication/collaboration. With Slack you can break your teams into various workspaces and channels, so you can get really granular on how your teams are laid out.

Team members can communicate in channels, threads and direct messages. They can send files, record and share video/audio clips, and much more. There are so many features found in Slack, that it could easily serve as your only communication/collaboration tool. And if you combine Slack with a kanban board service like Trello, you’re not only meeting your communication/collaboration needs, but your project management needs as well.

Head-to-head comparison

Where Trello is a true workflow management system, Slack is a workplace communication platform. Here’s how the two break down in comparison:

TrelloSlack
Workflow managementWorkflow management
Workspace communication
Multiple workspaces with kanban boardsWorkspaces, channels, threads, direct messages
Third-party integration with some coding requiredThird-party integrations, little to no coding required
Can function with Slack using Power-UpCan function with Trello with the Trello App for Slack
Efficient kanban boardsEfficient communication
Drag and drop cards and infinite listsSlash commands and asynchronous communication
Plans ranging from free to $17.50/user/monthPlans ranging from free to $12.50/user/month

Conclusion

Although you could opt to use Trello as both your project management and communication platform, you’d better serve your teams by employing both services. Why? Because you’d be hard-pressed to beat the Trello kanban boards or the Slack communication tools. By using both of these platforms together, your teams will be more productive and communicative than they’ve ever been.

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