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Task Management with Atlassian: Jira vs. Trello

September 21, 2023
Stephanie Bryant, Architect

If you work in any large tech company these days, you probably work in Jira already. And you may have seen or used Trello in the past for lighter-weight or non-technical projects. But with Jira Work Management, now there are business-focused Jira templates crossing into that space, and Trello has been used in tech since it first started.

So, when is Trello a better fit than Jira and vice versa?

Trello vs. Jira for Task Management

In general, when your workflow is pretty simple, and you don't need the robust reporting that Jira provides, Trello is a good fit. It does have reports, but they're not as extensive as Jira's, and they don't focus on an Agile workflow the way Jira does. 

If you need your reports to integrate with your entire organization in Jira, obviously Jira's a better fit. Trello isn't tightly integrated with Jira, so information in your Trello workspace won't "roll up" into Jira. If you've been tempted by "Team Managed Projects" in Jira, which also don't integrate tightly with the rest of Jira, you might want to take a look at Trello and see if it meets your needs instead.

Best-fit for Trello and Jira



Great for Solo work

Great for Team work

Flow-based or Kanban

Sprints and Cadences

Reports based on a single board

Reporting can roll up via filters

Permissions limited to public and workspace

Greater control over permissions, down to issue-level security 

Cards can represent anything

Issues represent work items, tasks, and features to be developed


Trello Beyond Task Workflows

Trello is great for task lists and workflows, but did you know you can use Trello to organize more than workflows? Since a Trello board is essentially a way to organize a matrixed list, you can use it to categorize and organize nearly anything.

For example, suppose you have a bunch of recipes you like to use and want to coordinate putting together a dinner party. Your columns could be the different courses, labels can categorize the cuisine or dietary restrictions, and each card can be an individual recipe.

What if you had a library of professional development resources for your team to use to improve their skills? You can put each one on a card (as attachments or links) and sort them into columns based on what skillset or certification the resources help support.

A Trello card could represent any asset in your organization, with columns indicating the department the asset belongs to, its online/offline status, or its function. For example, I attach receipts to Trello cards for expense reimbursement submissions each month. 

In short, Trello cards can be used to represent any individual "thing" in your world, and then put into columns and categories in different, creative  ways.

Trello for Product Discovery

Do you do product research for your company? A Trello board can operate like a product discovery center. Columns can represent features sorted into functional areas or statuses. The board can be set to public, with the option to allow any logged-in Trello user to comment and vote for a card. 

This way you can have feature requests in your Trello board and allow users to vote in favor of those features that are especially valuable to them. If you need to limit your board to specific stakeholders, you can do that as well.

Atlassian has a new feature related to Product Discovery as well, but if you're not a Jira admin or your organization hasn't committed to that product, you might find a simple Trello board is the best alternative.

Trello for Teams

Most of the time, I use Trello solo, as a personal task manager. But when I'm talking to clients, there are some key phrases that let me know a team or individual would probably do better with Trello over Jira:

  • I just don't get it.
  • I don't understand how to use the workflow
  • We aren't using it-- we're just in Slack now.

Frequently, users who heavily resist Jira do so because the learning curve is higher than the value they're getting out of the product. I see this more with non-development teams, like Marketing and HR, than with development-oriented teams. These teams are usually not fully integrated into the Agile practices of the development teams, so they aren't exposed to Jira regularly, and their work isn't integrated into all of the workflows and reports of those other teams. 

Could they use Jira to manage their work, and get put into the larger pool of data? Sure. But the best tool is the one people will use, and I try not to overestimate how much patience my users have with a new product or paradigm. If I can get them tracking their work in Trello and I really, really need their data to roll up into a report, I can use a Jira Power-Up to sync it to a Jira project and they'll never know the difference.

How to Choose The Right Tool 

Trello is a powerful tool for teams across the organization, especially when those teams are outside the typical development hierarchy or are less familiar with Agile methodologies. With its many Power-Ups and highly customizable interface, Trello is flexible enough to accommodate any level of complexity without becoming burdensome or overwhelming.

Jira, on the other hand, will be a better fit if you form part of a large organization that needs robust reporting capabilities to make data-driven decisions. Jira is also a great option for scaling Agile practices across the enterprise or if you need more integration options for your go-to-tools outside of the Atlassian ecosystem

Whether you think Trello or Jira (or both!) may be a good fit for your team, Praecipio’s expert Atlassian consultants can help get you up in running. 

Want to know more about Atlassian’s project management tools? Check out this article on running Dungeons & Dragons campaigns in Trello to get a deeper understanding of how this work management tool can help you get organized – whether at work or off the clock. You can also learn more about Jira best practices and Jira Epics in this article

Reach out to us and let’s chat about how we can put your Atlassian tools to work for you. 

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