Atlassian to acquire Trello to bolster work management tools

Atlassian is acquiring Trello for $425 million. Trello's work management tools will become a part of Atlassian HipChat and Confluence.

Work management software needs many types of tools to be useful to teams of employees trying to get projects done. As a result, vendors are building more feature-rich applications to satisfy the requirements of corporate workers.

The latest example of the trend toward all-in-one work management tools is Atlassian's $425 million acquisition of Trello, a maker of online software for organizing work. The deal, announced this week, is expected to close by March 31.

Atlassian plans to integrate Trello into its collaboration and project management software. That work started before the acquisition with the integration of Trello and HipChat -- Atlassian's team messaging software.

In the future, Atlassian will embed Trello capabilities into Confluence, which lets users share, view and discuss meeting notes, files, links and messages, and to assign tasks. The vendor also plans to make Trello a part of JIRA, a project management engine that lets users track issues or tasks through a predefined workflow.

At the same time, Trello will remain a stand-alone product, and Atlassian said it would continue providing free and paid versions of the software.

Communications, work management tools in one place

The planned integrations as a whole represent the latest attempt by a vendor to make a primary user interface for work management and employee communications, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research based in Mokena, Ill.

"I think you'll see a lot more of this trend in 2017," Lazar said.

Indeed, HipChat rival Slack is following the same strategy. The latter company markets itself as providing more than just team collaboration and messaging, but also integrated workflows and business processes.

Trello borrows from a scheduling system called kanban, which is used by Japanese automakers. Trello work management tools use virtual sticky notes that can be moved around a digital whiteboard to provide a visual depiction of the progress of tasks.

Founded in 2012, Trello has more than 19 million users, according to the company. Atlassian plans to pay $360 million in cash for Trello with the remainder in Atlassian stock.

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