Templates Updated on: 23 September 2019

Getting Started with Kanban Board

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Highlights

Kanban is a simple project management system that helps teams implement agile methods in a flexible way.

Kanban originated in Toyota car manufacturing plants in Japan in the 1940s. The system was put in place to better align their huge inventory levels to actual consumption patterns. This workflow created significant efficiency gains in inventory management by decreasing the amount of excess stock it must hold at any given time.

The principles of Kanban have been applied to the Kanban board, which has became a popular agile project management tool designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency.

Since then, Kanban has found a new home amongst knowledge work. Project management, service teams, software development, marketing, start-ups and remote teams all use the Kanban boards system to help speed up and streamline their projects.

What are the benefits of a Kanban board?

According to a study conducted by the Project Management Institute, 71% of organizations are using agile principles at some point in their work.

Agile teams take advantage of Kanban principles by matching the amount of work in progress to the team’s capacity. This gives teams flexibility around priorities, faster output, clearer focus, and transparency throughout the development cycle. It also reduces the amount of multi-tasking as teams only have a set number of projects on the go at any one time, producing more streamlined work.

The design of the Kanban board allows all team members to visualize the status of projects. This leads to reduced unnecessary communication such as follow-ups and check-ins and ensures everyone is on the same page, especially in teams with remote members.

So let’s take a closer look at how it works.

How does a Kanban board work?

Kanban boards are designed to visually map out process steps in projects that are often invisible or intangible, such as software development. This provides structure and a much needed visibility into many aspects of the work, including how the work flows.

The simplest Kanban board consists of just 3 columns: To Do, Doing and Done, and work flows from left to right. By dividing the workflow into these three sections, you’re already streamlining your work. Kanban cards (usually sticky-notes) are then placed on the board in the lanes that indicate the status of the work.

Once the status of a task is changed, that card is moved along the board until it’s done!

Kanban-Board-feature-image

4 Tips for setting up your online Kanban boards

While some teams still prefer physical Kanban boards over virtual ones, most organizations are realizing the benefits of shifting to an online board. The online board takes the key features of the physical board with the added benefits of accessibility, scalability, and longevity.

Here are our top four tips to setting up an online board.

1. It’s all about the team

Kanban is a team process, so the first thing to do is set up a time to introduce your team to the new online board. Then you can work together to figure out how and when new work gets added to the board, what size project should go on one card, and how often new tasks can be added.

2. Go beyond sticky notes

Though a traditional Kanban board only uses sticky notes, in Conceptboard you can really enhance your Kanban board by adding other useful content related to the tasks. This may include tables or charts, images, documents or embedded videos. These visual details are displayed in a single place, minimizing the time spent tracking down progress reports or searching through folders for relevant information.

3. Use a color code

You can use sticky note colors to differentiate the type of work (e.g: blue for user story and red for defect), or use colors to show priority level (e.g: red for urgent, green for normal).

Visual indicators, such as user avatars, can be added next to sticky notes to show who is assigned to that task or other important details that are relevant to your team’s work. You have the freedom to decide what your board looks like and how to best represent your work.

4. Set access roles

In Conceptboard, all participants can collaborate together and make changes in real-time to the board. You can also set access roles according to who is viewing the board.

Contributing team members can be set as Editors, thus make changes and edits to the board. External stakeholders or members of your organization can be set as Viewers, so they can view, but not contribute to the board.

“We use agile processes like Kanban to optimally illustrate rapidly changing demands. When we were still sending artwork between the teams as email attachments, there were often misunderstandings. With Conceptboard our teams are working together even more closely and productively.”

-Marcel Rauschkolb, Senior Manager at T-Online

Get started with a Kanban template

If your team is ready to explore agile principles, a Kanban board is a great place to start. By implementing a Kanban method, you can experience benefits such as improved transparency, simplified reporting, improved effectiveness and better teamwork.

We’ve done the hard work for you and designed an easy-to-use Kanban template that’s completely free. Simply click on the image below and get started now.

Kanban Board Template

If you’d like to read out more about Kanban or other project management strategies, we’ve got plenty more on our blog.

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