Are you wondering what is the best way to prioritize tasks using Kanban? If you are a Kanban beginner or you struggle with work prioritization, we are here to share our experience.
Setting up priorities over the loads of work we have on our plates is indeed a challenge we all face today. If not handled properly, we risk ending up in attempts to multitask which can cause serious damage to our productivity.
Using the Kanban way to set up work priorities is a quick, and very visual approach that you will be able to adopt by the end of this article. We’ll share:
- how the Kanban method can help you arrange your tasks better
- how task prioritization works in Kanbanize
- key benefits & use cases from the kitchen
The Kanban Way to Prioritize Work
At the heart of the Kanban approach to workflow management lies work visualization. The work is divided into Kanban cards which represent individual tasks. Having all the tasks in a single Kanban board creates an environment of transparency and constant awareness of the workflow progress.
There, practices such as implying work in progress (WIP) limits help stabilize the workflow as well as functionalities such as colors, swimlanes, tags and stickers serve as prioritization criteria.
Furthermore, the actual position of the cards in specific columns such as the backlog reflects their priority level so at a single glance everyone is aware of the work items’ importance.
With the Kanban method, task prioritization can be done in a very efficient way and you can literally see how it boosts your effectiveness by setting up a structured work process.
How to Prioritize Work with Kanbanize?
In Kanbanize, you can start with your existing work structure by visualizing it on a Kanban board and then use visual signals to prioritize tasks. You can apply them and use automation to save time from manually arranging work items in your workflow. In the following paragraphs, we will introduce you to some prioritization tips that you can use in practice.
Using color indicators is one of the most straightforward capabilities to highlight priority. You can customize the colors to your preference or add more color codes for specific tasks. Widely used are the predefined color priority levels: Critical, High, Average and Low.
For example, imagine that you want to identify priority over specific tasks which need to override any other tasks. You can do that by choosing specific colors to indicate the high or critical priority of the item. This way, you will make sure that everyone is aware of the given importance level at a glance.
Hence from the previous point, one of the simplest ways to prioritize tasks within the software is to use the sorting functionality on your Kanban boards. There, you can use a filter to arrange your Kanban cards by a given priority.
Furthermore, you can save your filter permanently and make it visible to everyone on your team. This is a perfect solution if you need to emphasize certain tasks and bring those to the attention of a selected group of people or everyone. Setting up priorities using Kanbanize cards sorting functionality can be customized on a user level too. Everyone can decide for themselves the way task priorities are displayed or admin users can figure out a unified outlook.
Using Card Blockers
Another common use of the sorting functionality is the option to prioritize tasks by a block reason. With the help of card blockers, you can visualize your blocked work items in a certain stage of the workflow, prioritize them by block reason, and focus on the resolution of the most urgent ones.
For instance, imagine that you have a number of tasks who are waiting on an external input and are thus stuck in the workflow. Those tasks are delaying the completion of your goals on a team level and affect the strategic goals of the organization.
To get back on track, prioritize the tasks by a select block reason. This way, you’ll make sure your team completes them first, and ultimately, you will optimize your workflow.
Let’s say you want to prioritize tasks in your workflow which are waiting on internal team discussion, review, approval or some other input from team members. To highlight those, you can use a specific token and visually mark them. Once that’s done, the work items having the selected Kanbanize stickers will be visible to every team member on your board.
Furthermore, you can create a custom widget to show only the tasks with stickers using the Advanced Search capabilities. This is especially useful when you need a collected view of the work items which require further attention.
For better visibility and tracking purposes, you can pin the results on your personal dashboard. This comes in handy when you want to share them with team members, or use the report during review meetings.
Business rules automation in Kanbanize allows you to combine Kanban capabilities to prioritize work items too. Thanks to the high customization power of the automation options, your tasks can be moved from the stage they’re in to a part on your board dedicated to high-priority items. As a result those tasks gain priority over the rest of the work.
For example, let’s say that you have work items in your workflow that become more important with time. To make sure that you work on them “just in time” and save yourself the hassle of manually arranging them, you can set up an automatic rule. That will allow you to move all cards with changed priority level to an “Urgent” area on your board. As a result, your team will be able to quickly adapt and always focus their attention on the most important work at hand.
Use Cases & Benefits of Task Prioritization with Kanban
How do businesses use Kanban to arrange tasks on a day-to-day basis? What are the challenges it tackles and the benefits it brings?
- Bring the attention of team members to tasks of high importance.
Using Kanban card stickers and card blockers in combination with automation is how you can effectively inform team members about work items with high priority. By setting up an automation rule, team members can also choose to receive mail notifications every time a task priority is updated. Using “Card Tokens” and business rules fosters transparency and efficiency by keeping everyone on the same page about the most important work items.
- Bring organization to the individual work items based on priority.
Using separate columns for each work stage and horizontal lanes to highlight priority tasks is an intuitive way to map complex company processes such as recruitment on a Kanban board. The ability to visually represent the task prioritization through the Kanban work lanes, will improve the internal coordination of your company’s processes.
- At a glance view of priority work items to discuss during review meetings.
The use of the sorting card and filtering capabilities is a common practice to bring the attention to priority tasks during management review meetings. Refreshing the list before meetings will populate the ongoing priority tasks. Sharing the report with shareholders ultimately saves you time so you can jump right to the important discussions.
Reducing chaos is the first key prerequisite for a steady workflow.
Arranging your work tasks with Kanban is a process undergoing constant assessment and improvement which makes customization essential. Kanbanize offers a range of options in that regard and the best part is that we are embracing the discovery of new ways everyday.
We encourage you to find yours!