What Is a Kanban Card? Definition and Details Explained

A Kanban card is a core element of the Kanban method. The card visualizes every task on the board and it serves as an informational hub for task’s progress.


The Kanban term leads its inception from the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. It literally means “visual sign” or “visual card”. Back in the 1940’s when Toyota created the Kanban method, the cards were in the form of paper notes, which were pinned on a physical whiteboard (Kanban board). Toyota workers used the Kanban card system in order to create transparent work process and reduce production waste.

Nowadays, the Kanban method is widely spread across various industries like manufacturing, IT marketing, and others, because of its positive impact on workflow efficiency. But, let’s focus on the Kanban cards.

What Is a Kanban Card?

A Kanban card is the core element of each Kanban board. Every card represents a work task that needs to be executed.

A Kanban card contains valuable information about the task and its status on your Kanban board such as cycle time, deadline and else. This whole data serves as a way of communication between different team members.

Kanban Card (physical)
An example of a physical Kanban card.

Indeed, the actual application of Kanban cards is to visualize your assignments’ progress from the moment they are requested to the moment they are considered done. During this process, the cards:

  • Serve as informational hubs  
  • Reduce the need for actual meetings.
  • Improve transparency of the work process itself

The Nature of Digital Kanban Cards

Contemporary online Kanban solutions are loaded with many more features compared to the traditional physical boards. Now information across Kanban cards is way more accessible and provides a great advantage for both onsite and remote teams.

Basically, digital Kanban cards have a front side and back side.

Digital Kanban card

The front side gives you basic information about the task such as description, title, who has been assigned to it, cycle time, priority and subtasks. This is the visible part of a card on a Kanban board and it provides you an opportunity for a quick overview of work items.

Back side of a Kanban card in Kanbanize

The back side of the card can be used for recording valuable metrics and information, while it goes through the workflow. Here, your team can leave comments, attach files and external links, and check historical data of the card. This side of a card is visible when the card is open.

Kanban Card Templates at Kanbanize

Using an online Kanban software for workflow management can give you great advantages such as customizing work items that have similar requirements. This is possible thanks to card templates. With Kanbanize you can easily create your own Kanban card templates depending on your team’s work focus.

For example, a QA team in a software development company will probably have to perform testing tasks pretty often. These work items will usually require similar process steps such as start testing, allocate issues, validate, send feedback and etc. Instead of importing all these requirements manually every time, the team can create a Kanban card template with predetermined attributes. This way, every time when the template is loaded on a new card, the prearranged requirements will appear automatically.

Kanban card templates are a perfect solution for repeatable tasks. They reduce the possibility of informational misunderstandings and rework as everyone is aware of what needs to be done. Kanban card templates can save plenty of time and improve workflow efficiency and work items throughput.

In Summary

Kanban cards visualize work tasks in a workflow and help you to:

  • Record crucial documentation for a task
  • Review details at a glance
  • Minimize waste time
  • Identify opportunities for collaboration

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