Accelo vs. Trello

ChelseaWilliams
By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Jan 31 2023 read
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Information contained in this post is based on publicly available documentation as of the most recent publish date. Products and features are continually updated and we will make an effort to update the information in this post to reflect those changes.

The success of your project management team is largely a function of how well they organize and collaborate on tasks. While task management may seem straightforward, it can become overwhelming when you don’t have the tools you need.

There are many platforms built to solve all of your project woes, but choosing the one that will fit your business the best takes time — time that’s better spent focused on your clients.

Let us save you some of those precious minutes with a high-level overview of what you need to know to decide if Trello is the right software choice for your current needs. 

What Is Trello?

Trello is a web-based task management solution developed by Atlassian. Known for its Kanban-style task boards, Trello acts as a digital workspace for all kinds of teams. The platform is flexible and customizable for a variety of industries and use cases. Labels, comments and card assignments make it simple to see the history of a task or list. Automation options help service professionals manage basic workflows and avoid missed deadlines.

A Trello card shows a breakdown of a task with assignments, labels, due dates, a checklist, attachments and more (Image from Trello.com)

Product Offerings

  • Multiple views, including board, calendar, table and timeline
  • Drag-and-drop interface
  • Task management tools such as checklists
  • Group or individual assignments
  • Multiple assignees per card
  • Customizable email notifications
  • Rule-based automations
  • Document attachments
  • Comments, voting, discussion and other collaboration features
  • Labels and tags for task organization

Pricing Plans

While Trello offers a free plan, most service businesses will need to pay for one of the business plans (Premium or Enterprise) to access its most useful features.  

  • Free: Unlimited users for up to 10 boards
  • Standard: $5 per user per month
  • Premium: $10 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $17.50 per user per month

Notable Integrations

Trello has over 200 integrations that bring additional functionality to the platform. Some of these are native integrations, and others are “power-ups,” or apps that can boost features.

  • Google Drive
  • Hootsuite
  • Miro
  • Salesforce
  • Slack

Strengths

  • Client access with varied permissions
  • User-friendly, simple interface that’s easy to learn
  • 14-day free trial and limited free plan
  • Unlimited users per team and unlimited boards for paid plans

Trello has a range of convenient templates for all types of industries and projects (Image from Trello.com)

Weaknesses

  • No built-in tools for billing, ticketing or retainer management
  • Not the best solution for advanced agile development teams or complex projects
  • One user points out the limited customization and added expense of having to use power-ups and integrations to achieve what your business needs
  • Some users feel the interface can become overwhelming as you create more boards

What Users Say About Trello

With over 13,000 reviews on G2, Trello is quite a popular platform for task management. Many small businesses take advantage of the free version to:

  • Collaborate with remote teams
  • Store and update working documents like office policies and employee handbooks
  • Organize design, marketing and engineering projects
  • Manage teams of freelancers or part-time employees
  • Keep track of ad-hoc projects that don’t fit into another platform or format

Despite its varied applications, many users find that Trello has limited features when their teams grow or have a need to start managing non-linear projects. Cross-functional teams find the lack of customization and simplistic automation to be insufficient.

While multiple people can be assigned to a card, a task cannot show up in more than one place. Users find this task placement restriction frustrating when they use different boards for different teams.

Starting with a basic platform like Trello can slow down your team, and migrating to a more robust system later can be cumbersome. Instead, some users wish they had considered adopting a more powerful platform that could grow with their businesses from day one.

Trello Alternative

If your client-based team is managing lots of projects at once or keeping track of somewhat complex projects, Trello may not offer the flexibility and range of features you need. What should you look for instead?

We recommend a platform that integrates project and task management with the other essential functions of the client journey, including sales, billing, ticketing, retainers and reporting. Accelo connects all of these stages in one place, attaching client records to projects, tasks, invoices and more. This centralized visibility gives your team a complete understanding of client history and facilitates efficiency in every area — not just project work.

There are several categories in which Accelo wins out as a Trello alternative for professional services firms.

The Accelo platform streamlines all aspects of your client work into one centralized client record.

Project Organization: Kanban, Lists and More

Trello is essentially a strong and flexible to-do list, so it can be used primarily as an organizational tool for project management teams. You can use Trello boards to build out modified project timelines, and there is an extensive library of project templates that users have created for different use cases.

However, other project management tools feature much more than lists or task calendars. After all, project management is often a more elaborate and specific process than a mere task list can represent.

Accelo users manage client work by setting up custom trigger automations that perform specific actions based on the given type of work or another key variable. Robust profitability reports help leadership teams understand how project managers are allocating and completing billable work. They can also forecast upcoming revenue and help their busy teams fairly assign workload and maximize employee utilization.

Having project management tied to these other business functions translates into better decision-making, more realistic goal-setting and more achievable scalability.

➡️ Read how a sustainable building consultancy applied Accelo’s flexible Projects product to maximize efficiency on both residential and commercial projects.

Time Management as a Deciding Factor

Trello can be modified to track time using some power-ups, but these require additional subscriptions. Connecting disjointed platforms can be complicated, buggy and expensive. 

A platform like Accelo — one that offers intuitive time tracking — is a more functional solution for most agencies, consulting firms, accountants, IT businesses and other client-based firms.

Why Opt for Built-In Time Tracking? 

When time logs and automatic timers are built in to your client work management platform, your client records, invoices and reports will be more accurate. You’ll have meaningful insights into:

These metrics can help you and your fellow leaders feel confident that you’re making decisions based on data and tracking every minute that should be billed to your clients. Your managers can use time-tracking data to fairly distribute workload and monitor team schedules.

➡️ Here’s how one HR consulting firm used Accelo to capture lost time.

The Right Platform for Team Collaboration 

One of the most important functions of a software platform for a service business is seamless team collaboration. The way your team works together greatly impacts how efficiently you serve clients and, therefore, your profit margins.

Although Trello has some collaborative features, including comments, voting, discussion and multi-assignee tasks, the task management platform still lives separately from your other key client work stages. Collaboration is most effective when achieving it is not a burden. And when task dependencies and complex workflows aren’t an integral part of your project management software, the spaces between steps can create unwanted bottlenecks.

Accelo is a better option for collaboration because each of the six interconnected products that make up the platform speak to each other. Here are a few examples of how that looks:

  • Your sales team can convert an accepted quote into a project in one click, eliminating the risk of failing to deliver on anything promised to the client.
  • Account managers gain priceless visibility over client communications via the Activity Stream, minimizing the need for internal emails and reducing errors due to employee time off.
  • Retainers automatically renew, so your project management team can balance assignments for ongoing and new projects without having to consult with another team.
  • When your clients submit a request via the client portal, your support team can work through the shared request inbox and assign tickets with minimal discussion.
  • Custom automations — set up with triggers that make sense for your business and processes — can take care of mundane work and free up time for your team to brainstorm and ideate about what matters most.

These are just some of the ways a platform as versatile as Accelo can positively impact the way your employees work. Trello offers some basic communication tools, but falls short of producing a comparable major impact.

➡️ Accelo’s VP of Product shares tips for staying connected with your remote team.

Accelo vs. Trello for Customer Relationships

Clients are automatically impacted by how well your team works together, so an internal task tracker like Trello is helpful. But you also need to have business tools that facilitate easy external communication.

Accelo syncs with your email client, which means your team can send emails directly from the platform. All emails are attached to a client and/or company, making it quick and simple to review recent activity while in a conversation. Staying informed with internal visibility can improve client relationships. In each meeting or check-in, you’ll reduce the amount of unnecessary requests for clarification and show clients that you know them and their account history well.

Visibility isn’t just for your team. With the convenient client portal, Accelo gives your clients the ability to check on their project progress at any time without having to reach out.

They’ll also appreciate accuracy, which they’ll notice when your invoices reflect the actual time your team spends on their projects.

READ NEXT: How To Improve Client Retention in Professional Services

Bulk Client Billing: A Standout Accelo Feature 

Since its features are limited to advanced task management, Trello doesn’t offer any billing capabilities. Connecting tasks and projects to billing is critical in professional services because the time and effort your team spends on client work should be directly reflected in how much you bill clients for. 

To tighten up the quote-to-payment cycle and ensure that you aren’t missing a single billable minute, your project management system and billing process should be consolidated into one seamless platform. There aren’t a lot of software options that can handle both of these functions.

Accelo offers both Projects and Billing products, but its functionality goes even further than simply calculating what your clients owe. The smart client work management platform can replace one of the most time-consuming jobs your team completes: monthly client billing. 

With Accelo’s company invoice tool, your service business can:

  • Consolidate all billable work from Projects, Tickets and Retainers
  • Automate invoice creation using predetermined templates
  • Sync invoice activity with your accounting software
  • Automatically notify clients about overdue invoices

Getting your billing on track can help you handle client scrutiny and justify charging higher rates. Thus, it’s a profitability-boosting must.

➡️ This MSP saved 40 hours per month on billing-related tasks by switching to Accelo.

The Reporting Power That Trello Is Missing

Some people choose to use power-ups — again, at an additional cost — to generate analytics about task completion from Trello, but the platform is not built for reporting.

On the other hand, reporting is one of Accelo’s strengths. Users love that time logs in the platform translate into auto-generated reports that help determine how profitable clients and projects are, among other key factors of business intelligence. Instead of spending hours (or days) each month manually compiling essential reports from various platforms, let Accelo do the leg work. 

3 Tips for Preparing To Adopt a Platform Like Accelo

Intrigued by all that we’ve covered about Accelo as a Trello alternative but unsure of your team’s readiness for new software? We have abundant resources to guide you through the process.

Here are three things to start doing right now:

  1. Document workflows in detail. All of your employees should be documenting everything how they complete their daily work so that these processes can be easily transferred to an automated work management platform. 
  2. Establish open communication with your team. Successful software implementation requires seamless internal communication. Get your managers into a routine of talking with both leadership and direct reports frequently.
  3. Identify potential point people now. When you work with experts like Accelo’s Professional Services team, you’ll be expected to assign a “champion,” or an internal point of contact, for the implementation process. Think about who might fill that role best.

Read more about getting your team ready for new software. 

A Range of Connected Products Built for Service Teams

As you take on larger projects, grow your team and set ambitious goals, you’ll likely find that Trello doesn’t cut it. Beyond basic task management for unlimited users, the platform is lacking. Real users confirm that it can’t provide the in-depth workflow management and automation they need to integrate project management with other parts of the client journey.

Accelo is a more robust and multifaceted option for teams looking to maximize efficiency and profitability. Task management is but one small part of what the end-to-end client work management platform can do. From sales to projects to retainers, manage and monitor all of your business’s essential functions in one place. Customize how your client relationships progress and how work moves from one stage to another using custom trigger automations.

When you’re ready to find out about the benefits of using consolidated and powerful tools, it’s time to start your Accelo free trial or schedule a demo.

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About the Author

ChelseaWilliams

Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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