Most of us who have tons of projects and subprojects to work on, especially if they are so dynamic that it is not possible to track absolutely every moving part, have experienced the need to see an aggregated view or report that shows the overall status. We just need to know where things stand, how long they have been in each state and benefit from the awareness of parts of the project which are stuck and require our immediate attention.
Here, at Kanbanize, we have decided to solve the problem of keeping an eye on all the moving parts of a project or undertaking. We are continuously updating the feature which allows you to create links between cards and we have gradually upgraded its capabilities to reach the point where the state of a group of tasks can be obvious from a single glance.
Imagine you have a master project board where you track only features or epic-like work items. This is what brings value to the customer and you are particularly interested to know how well things are doing. You diligently populate the board with all features, but then you need to somehow slice these big chunks of work into smaller items that teams can actually begin working on. It’s simple – you create a network of relations between tasks and visualize them on the Kanban boards of the respective teams. People start working on them and when all are done, the entire feature gets completed. Good, but how do you achieve that?
Start by choosing between the different types of Links Between Cards in order to best illustrate the relationship between the task as a whole and its related smaller tasks.
Parent cards usually act as a large host tasks that can be completed only upon finishing a number of smaller ones (child cards). The parent-child relationship allows you to assign as many children as you need to a parent, but a card may become the child of just one parent. Child cards can have children of their own. This allows you to create a hierarchy between larger tasks and their subparts then map all of this on a board/s.
Relative cards are with equal status in terms of hierarchy and are a great way to follow progress of tasks which are on other boards.
This relationship pre-defines an allowed order of completing two or more tasks, meaning that the successor card will remain in a blocked state and immobile until the predecessor is in Done.
Mirror cards are basically clones. When you make changes to one of them, the other gets updated automatically as well. It is important to note that a card can be cloned only if it has no relation to other cards. The only exception is when the linked card is relative.
In order to define links between cards, just go to the links tab of a card, choose the desired relation and click the “create the link” button. This is how linked tasks look on the Links tab of a given card:
*Mirror cards can only be generated through the gear settings menu located on the top right corner of every card. To create one, open the menu of a closed card then select “Link/Copy” and Mirror Card.
CONFIGURE THE MASTER KANBAN BOARD
Now that you know how to create links between your cards, it is time to create the master portfolio Kanban board in which you can map the level 1 deliverables, in other words, the largest tasks, and also visualize the linked cards in their breakdown.
In order to make the Master Board as visual as possible, make sure you have set your board settings to allow you to see the status of the cards connected to the level 1 deliverables even if they are closed on the board. Do this through the grid menu Board Settings and the Configure Task View option. For scenarios such as these, always select to Show Links – it will truly make monitoring your project much easier!
On the board, master level 1 deliverables with links will look like this, with labelled relationships:
KEEPING TRACK OF LINKS ON THE MASTER BOARD
Arrow icons beside the card titles of the linked cards show whether a task is a parent of other tasks (arrow points up) or a child of another task (arrow points down). An arrow pointing right represents a relative, parallel lines are used to show mirror cards while curved arrows are for successor and predecessor card relationships.
Colour code on the left shows whether the linked task is in the Backlog (Grey), the Requested area (Blue), the In Progress area (Orange), the Done area (Green) or the Archive area (Purple). This colour code is very helpful when you want to get an idea of how many tasks remain to be completed before the master Level 1 deliverable can be moved to the Done column of its own Master board.
Hovering with your Mouse will allow you to see details about the linked task:
- Task ID
- Task Title
- The board where it lives
- Its column and lane position
Apart from that, if a linked task is blocked, you will see a red icon next to the task title.
If you hover the task title you will see the blocked reason explaining why the task was blocked in the first place.
AUTOMATE THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN LEVEL 1 DELIVERABLES AND THEIR LINKED CARDS
All that is great, but it’s definitely not all!
With the runtime policies in Kanbanize, you could configure automatic rules to help you manage your Kanban portfolio board and projects.
“If a child task is moved to In Progress, then move its parent also to in Progress”
“If a mirror card has been moved to Done, then move the card itself to Done”
“If a child card has been blocked, then block the parent as well”
If a card has been created, create a child/parent/relative/mirror card in a predefined column of your choice”
… and many many more.
With this last automation step, you will be able to successfully build and manage an automated project portfolio board to show you how every project is doing, the details of each task, alert you to blocked or stuck cards, focus you on the analytics on a global level and all of this will be available for you out of the box. Amazing, isn’t it?
You have a question? Feel free to post it in the comments section below.