What this article covers:

  • How a Trello master board can help you stay organized
  • How to determine the goals and workflow of your master board
  • How to set up your Trello-Trello workflow with Unito
  • How to use your master board in Trello

We've launched an evolution of our product, so some of the terminology and guidance in this article might be a bit out of date, and we're working hard to update it. You can learn more about our new workflow offering here, brush up on the new terminology here, and find out how to build your first workflow here.

Visual learner? Watch this video guide on setting up a Trello-Trello workflow:

How a Trello master board can help you stay organized

Trello is a spectacular tool for clean, concise project planning — with very little effort, you can set up a workflow that suits your team, and get everything moving quickly. But with larger teams, Trello can become somewhat cluttered. Have a look at our example project here:

This Trello board for a website launch has gotten a little unwieldy already, even with just a few teams. If you're managing this project, it's difficult to determine what you need to give your input on. 

This guide will show you how to solve this problem by syncing a second Trello board to the first. This will create a live dashboard showing only the tasks that need your attention.

How to determine the goals and workflow of your Master Board 

The first step we want to take is to determine our goals. This will determine how we'll make a Master Board to cater to those goals.

In the example workflow above, a team is trying to launch a new website. The "Backlog" list holds everything that will be tacked over the next few sprints in order to finish the project. During each weekly planning session, each team has their workload for that sprint moved from the “Backlog” into the "Sprint tasks" list. From there, whenever a team is actively working on a task, it's moved into their respective “In progress” column. 

If a task needs Management approval before it’s completed, it’s placed in the “Approval Needed” list. Finally, when the task is approved, it's moved to “Done.” In this example, management is only looking at the “Approval Needed" column with any regularity. There are a few other key tasks they’d like to keep track of, but with the number of tasks in each sprint it’s difficult to follow everything.

In order to translate this workflow over to a summarized Master Board, we'll need to make it a little more succinct. "Backlog," "Approval Needed," and "Done" all make sense to keep at the managerial level. What about the "Sprint tasks" list? 

After being flagged as sprint tasks, the cards get sent over to one of the three team lists (eg. "Engineering in Progress"). This makes sense for a team board, so that each team knows what's on its plate. But at the management level, we want to simplify that down into a single "In Progress" list. 

Finally, the "Approval Needed" list — the most important one for management — needs to be more visible.

Here's what our Trello board looks like when we put everything together:

This is our empty shell of a project, and we've built it to solve everything we listed above. Let's break it down:

  • Three of our lists follow a simple Kanban workflow: "Backlog", "In Progress", and "Done".
  • "Approval Needed" has been moved all the way to the left. This will make it stand out and appear first to any manager viewing the board. With Unito, list position doesn't affect where tasks end up between boards. We control everything through the field mapping menu — which we'll get to in a moment.

There's something else we have to do, however. If we sync like this, the management board will have every single task included on the team's board - just organized differently. What we really want is to use a rule to filter what comes in so that the managers are only seeing the most important tasks. We can solve that problem with Trello's Labels. By creating a label called "Master Board", we can specify that only tasks with the Master Board label get synced to the Master Board, allowing us to directly control what gets sent up, and what stays with the team.

Now that we have this, we can progress to our second step — making the workflow in Unito.

How to set up your Trello-Trello workflow with Unito

Now that we have our two boards set up, let's head over to our Unito App, and press "Add Flow". We'll pick the team’s Trello board first, and then we'll pick the Master Board that we just made for the second board. Once we've done that, we'll hit the "Next" button which will bring us to the "Rules" tab. Here, we can make it so that the flow targets or ignores cards that meets specific criteria. We're going to pick the one that says "Only sync cards with any of the following labels", and select our "Master Board" Label that we made. This will make sure that only the appropriately tagged issues come into our managers' board.

Hit the "Next" button again and it will bring us to the 'Review' page. We're not quite done yet, so we'll be clicking the 'Customize flow' button. From here, we're brought to the 'Map fields' tab, which lets us setup our field mappings to ensure that all of the lists from the team's board go where we expect them to in our Master Board. In order to do this, let's navigate to the "List <-> List" Mapping, and click the cog. From here, we'll click the "trash can" button where necessary in order to disconnect any lists that were automatically mapped to the wrong places, and rearrange them manually. The finished product will look something like this:

Here, everything is mapped one-to-one, as you'd expect, except the sprint tasks that are broken down by team in our first board. Those are all being synced together and placed in the "In Progress" list of our Master Board. Notice how the "Sprint Tasks" list is the first item in the group there, whereas all of the teams are listed below it. That's an important subtlety, and we'll get to why in just a moment.

Finally, once we're done here, we just hit "Save" in the bottom corner. If we head over to the Master Board, we'll see that suddenly — assuming we've tagged things to put there — cards have appeared!

How to use your master board in Trello

Now that we've set up our flow, only high-priority tasks, or ones that management would like visibility on, will be synced to the Master Board. Teams can flag things for the Master Board by adding the appropriate label to any task on the board, and managers will see it right away. Additionally, managers can actively participate in team discussions and even workflow.

Remember how we set up "Sprint Tasks" to be at the top of our field mapping list? The reason for that is that Unito maps tasks from all of the groups on one side into the topmost list on the opposite side - therefore, if a manager puts anything into the "In progress" list from outside of it, it will place it into the "Sprint Tasks" list on the team board. This is an important detail. Let's say, for example, that a manager doesn't approve something in the "Approval Needed" list, but rather has to reject it. In this case, they can simply drag the card back to "In progress", and it will move to the unsorted "Sprint Tasks" list, instead of landing right back in the sub-team's list. This is important, as it doesn't interrupt their planning or their day's workflow. It allows them to readdress the task asynchronously on their own time, and therefore more efficiently, which is better for everyone.

What's next?

Learn how to sync custom fields on Trello.
Learn about Mirror, our Trello power-up, here.
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