Here at Mocavo, we’re a small team — in our Boulder office, we only have two developers actively working on the product! In order to build new features, release new content, and keep everything running smoothly, we rely on automation. Lots of it. We use Puppet for server administration, Vagrant + Puppet for development environments, and lots of cron jobs to keep everything in order.
Our latest creation is very visible to the team, though – we call it MocavoBot and it keeps our KanBan-esque Trello board organized. To start, it has three basic roles.
Keeping “In Progress” Honest
We have a list called “In Progress,” as many organizations do. As things get crazy, it’s easy to forget due dates or let cards stagnate while we’re busy on other tasks. If a card is overdue or hasn’t been touched in a week, we get a gentle reminder that it really should be finished quickly or moved back into “Next Up” at a lower priority – “In Progress” should be streamlined and concise.
Organizing Old Cards
We go through lots of cards as we churn through our work. Old cards are useful to refer to, but unhelpful when they are a source of clutter. Trello, for all its strengths, doesn’t handle archived cards very well in our experience – there’s no way to view a list of them and at our card volume, search isn’t incredibly useful. Instead, we have lists to hold cards we’ve finished. This becomes a lot to manage when a human is in charge, and we had people spending way too much time keeping everything organized (and imperfectly at that – pesky humans).
MocavoBot handles this much better at zero time cost. Once a card is complete, the person responsible drops it into our “Done” list where it lives until the next standup (it’s useful for reviewing what you finished yesterday). After that, we maintain a two-week archive list on our main board because we frequently revisit cards that were recently finished.
A half hour after standup, MocavoBot cleans out the “Done” column, moving everything that wasn’t touched since yesterday to “Live (Last Two Weeks)”. After two weeks of inactivity, MocavoBot moves each card to our archive board, called “In Production”. There, lists are organized by quarter and by year – “Live Q4 2015″, for example.
Snoozing Cards in the Icebox
This is the team’s favorite. Drew, our senior engineer extraordinaire, came up with it while we were grooming the Trello board one day.
We now use the Icebox to snooze cards like emails in Inbox by Gmail. To make a card come back in a week, move it to the “Icebox” list, add a due date, and you’ll get a @mention when the card’s moved back into “Next Up”.
This is a feature we’d love Trello to have natively 😉
More to Come…
We’ve already gotten hooked on the efficiency and dependability of automated Trello management. We’ve opened the code to the whole company, including everyone at Findmypast, and we’d love more automation wherever people feel it could save time.
We use a great third-party Trello API wrapper library which you can install with Composer: https://github.com/cdaguerre/php-trello-api
Here’s the source code, sans API credentials and such. https://github.com/mocavo/mocavo-bot/tree/master/trello