What is a Kanban Board?

So you found us and wondered wait, what is a Kanban Board? Well, I am glad you asked! A Kanban board is a task management tool. This approach to task management can be applied to personal or professional work. What is a Kanban board though? Have you ever seen an image of a wall filled with sticky notes? Well, if so you have probably seen a Kanban board before.

This style of task management creates a very simple, visual workflow to manage the tasks to accomplish a project. Typically, within a Kanban board your tasks would move from the left side of the board to the right side of the board as they progress. Within each column on your board, you can prioritize which tasks you plan to work next and as you are ready, move them from one column to the next indicating that you are starting work or finishing the work on any given task.

If you have a project that has more than one moving part at a time, you can decide to create swim lanes. Swim lanes basically is a way to create multiple boards where you create tasks specific to that objective. Let’s say for example to create a project you have three teams working on different parts that ultimately need to complete for the overall project to be successful. In this case, you would create three boards or swim lanes and define for each the tasks needed for that specific area to do finish.

What are the key elements of a Kanban board?

  • Columns on your Kanban board represent the workflow your tasks will move through.
  • Your tasks should be created on the left column and as you pick them up and work on them they move to the right.
  • You should make your tasks small to track all of the details you need to track the full project.
  • If you have more than one team or moving part, create a second board to track their tasks separately.

What is a Kanban board workflow? Well, these are pretty customizable traditionally. Usually, you will find simple options like “To Do”, “In Progress” and then “Done”. You can decide to create more columns as needed based on your specific project and how you want to track your tasks across the project. Kanban boards can be used to track any style of tasks from start to finish. They are very popular in software development and manufacturing processes. While popular in this type of environment, the reality is that any application where you have tasks to complete a Kanban works well.

The key to success on your Kanban board for task management is keeping it simple. A Kanban board is not meant to be a project plan. Instead, this approach focuses on the tasks that need to be completed and tracking the progress across the project. Once the last task is completed, you are done with the project and the board. During a project, you may find more tasks need to be completed. This is on problem, just add more tasks to your left column to track the additional work. Additionally, as the project progresses, you may find some tasks no longer are needed. For these, many teams create a board called a parking lot or backlog. You can always move tasks you do not plan to do in the short term onto that board to track it for the future.

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