Kanban boards offer a visual way to manage processes and workflows using cards and columns across a digital or white board. Each of the columns organizes a certain number of cards. Each card represents a different task or to-do item. It all comes together in a seamless way to keep a team or organization aware of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who is responsible for doing it.
In this article, we will explain more of what a Kanban board is, how it works, and how to manage processes with Kanban boards.
The Basic Components of a Kanban Board
“Kanban” is Japanese for billboard. Toyota developed and adopted “Kanban” as a scheduling tool for the company’s just-in-time manufacturing process in the 1940s. The idea was to create ultimate efficiency by limiting the number of resources and supplies to exactly what was needed to perform and complete a specific task. Today, Kanban boards are used across nearly all industries to monitor processes and projects.
Whether teams prefer to use a physical whiteboard or a digital app, a Kanban board has several elements:
- Kanban Board – The kanban board captures an entire workflow or process. Other project management tools refer to these as “projects” or “workspaces”.
- Kanban Column – Also called “lists” or “lanes”, a column contains a set of related cards that fall in the same stage of the process. Some common examples include, “To Do”, “In Progress”, “In Review”, and “Done”.
- Kanban Card – Cards refer to individual tasks that need to be done, or features of a product.
With only three elements, using a Kanban board creates endless possibilities. An organization could make several boards for different purposes.
Let’s say you and your team are preparing for an upcoming product launch. You could set up two different boards: one for tracking progress across production; another for the marketing team. Some project management tools also allow you to move cards across different boards, which is a great option for cross-functional teams.
How to Manage Processes with a Kanban Board
With other project management tools, you might list out all the tasks that need to be done, add documents and notes to provide extra information, and then check off each task when complete. You can do those same things with a Kanban board, but the setup looks a little different.
Below, we’ll share some of the features that will help you manage your organization’s processes using a kanban board. Some of the names and specific features will vary based on the app you use, but in general, they work in much the same way. All of these features help you manage processes more efficiently.
1. Move Cards to Different Boards and Columns
Many team members and users will frequently move cards than make new cards. Most Kanban board apps will allow you to move a card from one place to another at any time, whether that’s moving it up above another task card or to another column.
You can also change the column layouts, allowing you to move cards to a higher or lower column. This is something you can easily experiment with in just a few seconds. Click on a card and drag it around to see where you can place it.
2. Invite Others to Kanban Boards and Assign Tasks
Kanban boards allow you to invite clients, teammates, and other users to contribute to a project.
Once individuals have access to the board, they can move cards, make new cards, edit cards, leave comments on cards, and more. Users can also monitor board activity so they can see what is happening on different cards, even if they aren’t doing the work themselves.
Users can also assign cards to specific team members, known as “card members”. “Card members” show who is responsible for a specific task, who is a collaborator, or who is monitoring or overseeing the task. Card members will receive notifications related to any activity that occurs on a card, such as comments, @ mentions, status updates, file attachments, and more. This feature also allows everyone on the team to collaborate and communicate efficiently, and keep everyone on the same page.
3. Track Subtasks and Checklists
Processes are comprised of different tasks. And those tasks can be broken down further into sub-tasks. Some project management tools allow users to build checklists within each card to represent sub-tasks. These checklist features are best for repeatable processes. Some Kanban board tools show a percentage to completion as sub-tasks are completed, which makes project status reporting a breeze.
4. Categorize and Organize Kanban Cards
Kanban boards that have many cards and columns can get overwhelming. Many project management tools are equipped with labeling and tagging features, allowing users to organize their boards.
For example, you might use a label for different departments or priorities. By using tags and labels, you can then filter your board to only show cards with a specific tag or label.
5. Add Due Dates to Kanban Cards
It’s important to get into the habit of assigning due dates to every card that is added to a board and assigned to a team member. Team members and users can also opt to receive notifications, email reminders, or other automated alerts when a task they are assigned to is quickly approaching its due date.
Why Kanban Boards Are a Top Option for Managing Processes
Anyone who appreciates a visual workflow tool will likely enjoy using Kanban boards. Of course, everyone learns differently and has different work habits. In our experience, visual learners and creative teams enjoy the clear, concise, and simplified view of a Kanban board.
Kanban boards also allow companies to adopt and follow agile frameworks. Regardless of whether your business is in healthcare, manufacturing, a marketing agency, or you are managing your own personal projects, you will see the benefits of using a Kanban board.
So, which Kanban tool should you get started with? If you’re looking for a quick and easy Kanban board to set up, give Rindle a try. Rindle offers a clean, simple, and intuitive user interface but with all the features and functionalities of a robust project management tool. Get started today for more streamlined project processes tomorrow.