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Hints & Tutorials

02.07.2020

What is Kanban ?

Discover Kanban, a simple and visual method to track work.

What is a Kanban?

To put it simply, "Kanban" is the visualisation of work as a series of tasks located in columns. It is an enhanced to-do list: while a to-do list only allows for a task to be in one of two states - to do or done - Kanban allows for more complex processes to be tracked, in which tasks can pass through different stages such as to do, ongoing, in review and done.

In Kanban, each stage of a process corresponds to a specific column. Tasks are represented by cards (in physical Kanban this is usually done with post-it notes) which are moved between columns as work on the tasks advances.

Basic Kanban methodology as described above is useful for relatively simple processes where the number of tasks and number of people involved in a project remain within manageable limits. Enhanced methods include creating groups of cards (for example in a Sprint that has limited scope and duration), limiting the number of cards possible in a column, defining sub-tasks from tasks, etc.

Columns

It helps to distinguish different Kanban columns:

  • The first Kanban column contains all tasks on which work has not yet begun. For teams that create cards as soon as someone has an idea or a requirement is identified, the first Kanban column is the Backlog. The order of tasks from the backlog needs to be strategically prioritised as the number of ideas, requirements and tasks always grows much quicker than the team's capacity to complete them.

  • The columns in the centre of the Kanban board correspond to work that is underway or ongoing. In the most simple case this will be just one column, for example ongoing. In more complex cases there could be multiple columns corresponding to different stages of work progression - for a Kanban board managing the creation of articles for a blog, for example: writing, proofreading and illustration. Choosing the right number of columns and their titles requires careful thought about the team's work processes and organisation. It can also be helpful to limit the number of tasks that are allowed at each stage as a way to identify and/or avoid bottlenecks.

  • The last Kanban column is reserved for the delivery of work; moving a card into this column indicates that the corresponding task has been completed. It is important to understand clearly what 'done' means; ideally this state should correspond to an identifiable real-world result that brings benefit to some kind of end-user.

  • Sometimes it is useful to add one or two supplementary columns beyond the delivery stage to cater for exceptions, typical examples being abandoned tasks and blockages. While abandoned tasks may lead to the associated card being deleted, identifying blockages is crucial and easier to do with the help of a separate column rather than by just adding notes to the card.

Creating a simple Kanban board in Klaro

There are two ways to make a Kanban board in Klaro:

  • You can use our reusable Kanban template. Go to the page and create your project; your Kanban board is ready. You just need to adjust the columns for your needs.

  • You can set up a Kanban board from scratch yourself. It takes a little longer but doing so will help you understand the mechanisms that make Klaro adaptable and flexible. Just a bit of learning at this stage will benefit you greatly.

The following video shows the steps to take to create a Kanban board from scratch. Click on the image to watch; the steps are listed below.

kanban board play.png

  1. Create a project using the Blank template.

  2. Create a new card to begin with and in the drop down "Card kind" menu create a "Task" kind of card. This is the first value created for the 'Card kind' dimension, which is the first dimension that exists.

  3. Create a second dimension by going to "Project settings", clicking "Add dimension" and selecting "Card Progress" as the type of information to track. Adjust the values of this dimension to correspond to the stages of progress relevant to your work.

  4. Return to the "All cards" board, go into "Kanban" view and select Progress in the 'Dislay by' menu to display the values you created as columns.

  5. Save this view as a new "Kanban" board (it is helpful to keep the "All cards" board unchanged for future reference).

  6. Create a few cards in your columns. Congratulations - you are now working using a Kanban board.

In either case there is nothing to worry about: with Klaro choosing a Kanban board does not limit you in the future. You can easily customise the display of all your project and team data in other diverse ways later on as your needs evolve following this primary way of organising things.

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