How to Create a Kanban Board

How to Create a Kanban Board in 3 Easy Steps

Have you been researching how to manage your project? Kanban is becoming very popular as a project management tool for good reasons. It’s flexible, so you can organize it to fit any process, and you can follow your progress by looking at a board. 

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What is a Kanban Board?

Kanban originates from the Japanese auto manufacturing industry. It roughly translates as “signboard,” and it supplies visual cues to oversee work.

It’s a planning and organizing device used to picture the workflow. It allows a team to control and optimize its operations. The board is divided into columns representing the workflow or operation steps in producing your product or service.

The default framework of Kanban is three columns – To-DoDoing, and Done.

Kanban To-Do Doing Done
  • Teams list assignments in the To-Do column.
  • Once they’re prepared to start a job, they move the task cards to the Doing column.
  • And when they complete a task, they move it to the Done column.

For more complex processes, the Doing column can be expanded to more columns for each function. For example, a complex project might include more columns like Backlog, DesignCode Review, and Testing. Each applicable task represented by a task card will flow through these processes.

Complex Kanban Board Flow

Why Use Kanban For Your Project?

There are good reasons why Kanban is gaining popularity as a project management tool. It’s incredibly versatile, and it facilitates collaboration on projects. Most projects have processes that happen in stages.

  • Kanban is perfect for organizing the process of your project in visible stages you can follow and manage. 
  • It places your process steps in order of completion so you can instantly judge the progress of your work in each stage.
  • Because it is simple, teams have little trouble adapting to the tool and overall technique.
  • You can assign members to specific stages that align with their skills.
  • You can instantly see where bottlenecks are happening based on where the tasks are delayed on the board.

Related Article: Improve Your Planning and Organizing Skills.

Steps to Create Your Kanban Board

This 3-step approach to construct your Kanban board will help you get started on your project quickly.

1. Map Your Workflow

Before you make your Kanban board, you need to identify the steps to make up your board.

  • Plan all of the actions needed to complete your project. Does your project have significant steps that go beyond To DoDoingDone?  Make your board’s workflow as near as what happens in real life as you can. It can help you spot bottlenecks, estimate workload, and collect data about your process. 
  • Divide your project into categories based on the type of work or skill required, and that flow in the order you follow to finish the project. For example, “Doing” might be divided into research, writing, and editing. This would definitely be the case if you have a huge writing project and your team is divided into researchers, writers, and editors.
  • Or, you might create more columns for yourself so you are more efficient by batching similar work to complete before moving to the next step. For instance, first research for 10 articles at once, then write the 10 articles, and later edit those articles.

You don’t have to perfectly organize the process, but make sure the flow you depict on the Kanban board is consistent with how you’ll do the work. As you refine your methods, you can revise your Kanban board as well.

Here’s an example of the simplest setup for a recipe project.

Simple Kanban Board Project

If you’re working with a team, you need them to help map out your board. You need to have everyone’s viewpoint to be accurate about what fits in the channel. If it’s impossible to get everyone in one room, try to have at least one representative per functional group. Or, you might have people review the board remotely and provide feedback.

2. Choose Between a Physical or Online Kanban Board

Now that you have your flow mapped out, it’s time to construct your board. But what type of board will you use? You can use a physical board in a common area of your office or a digital board.

Here’s a short demonstration of a physical Kanban Board.

Physical boards can fit nicely for co-located teams. Teams can collaborate as they assemble around the board. The continuous visibility of the board can even encourage your team as they do their work.

People by Kanban Board

Digital Kanban boards, on the other hand, are the best for teams that aren’t co-located as well as co-located teams.  Here’s a nice short video demonstrating a digital Kanban board.

Whatever online tool you use, this basic concept in this video applies to all Kanban Boards.

Online Kanban boards are easy to make and easy to keep updated. You can assemble your board in minutes and expand it as required. 

Also, you can access online Kanban boards anywhere and anytime. This is an excellent option for companies that have flexible work schedules. You can keep yourself updated no matter where you are or what time it is.

What to Look for in a Digital Kanban Board

There are many online Kanban board options, so it can be tough to determine which one will work for you. Here are some criteria to use when evaluating online Kanban apps:

  • Ease of use – Is the interface easy to learn, or is it hard to find things? Can you create your board in minutes? Can you see your work at a glance? Does it have visual cues or notices?
  • Implementation of Work in Progress (WIP) Limits – A key feature of Kanban is setting WIP limits. These limits restrict the number of tasks an individual or team can work on at a given time. Does the online Kanban app have this feature?
  • Reports and analytics – Does your online app have built-in reports for tracking key metrics?
  • Flexibility – Is the app flexible enough to allow adjustments when you scale and mature your processes? Can you make boards for different layers of your operations?
  • Cost – How much will the online boards cost over the long term for your company’s number of users? Is there a free trial so you can try it out?

See Kanban Board Examples in Google Images.

Here are online tools for Kanban Boards:

3. Implement Your Kanban Board

Time to add your tasks and work them through your board. Decide who will do the task and plug it into the right spot on your board.

  • Regularly inspect your work and revise your board to align with any shifts in your process.
  • If you create guidelines for any adaptations, be sure to prominently display these policies on your board.
  • For efficient collaboration, have your Kanban board prepared during discussions and meetings.
  • Take full advantage of your Kanban board by using it to understand your process better.
  • Monitor your critical metrics and use them in the development of your process.

Related Article: Write an Action Plan for Your Goals

Kanban Board Conclusion

The Kanban technique for planning, organizing, and managing a project is suited very well for teams where everyone can see the process. It’s fast and easy to see the status of each task by looking at the board.

Even though I don’t have a team, I use this technique because it’s straightforward and painless. I see what I need to do, what I am working on, and what I’ve completed in one visual representation.

I hope you have great success and happiness in your future!