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How to Choose the Best Kanban Software Solution

Choosing the right Kanban tool can be challenging. Get insightful tips and discover the benefits of introducing Kanban software for project or workflow management.

Kanban software solutions can help you gain better work visibility and foster team collaboration. Thanks to their added functionalities like tracking, limiting work in progress, reporting, forecasting, and more, they will help you attain continual process improvement.

Kanban Software - What to Look for?

Physical boards are a fantastic way to get started with Kanban. However, in the long run, digital Kanban tools offer a much more convenient and time-saving solution due to their many helpful build-in features.

Kanban software tools enable you to visualize, organize, and manage work in the most efficient way. With a Kanban tool, you can easily cut waste activities, automate your work processes, and focus on work that brings real value to your customers.

Advantages of Kanban software for project management:

  • Accessible from everywhere
  • Immediate project and task status updates
  • Suitable for remote teams
  • Connect planning to execution
  • Track work across multiple teams
  • Collect and measure workflow data
  • Share attachments

Finding the best Kanban tools that fit your needs may be a time-consuming exercise. So here is what to look for when trying to discover the best Kanban apps:

  • Ability to add swimlanes, limit work in progress, edit columns, sort cards, apply filters
  • Attach files, assign tasks, create links between cards
  • Analyze workflow data, visualize metrics, extract reports
  • Automate processes, create notifications, set project/task deadlines
  • Integrate with other tools
  • Scaling functionalities - create multiple Kanban boards and visualize work across more than one team

Some of the Best Kanban Software Solutions

Without further ado, here are some of the top Kanban project management software solutions you can use. Keep in mind that some are more suitable for personal use, while others can also be applied to a team and portfolio level.

Kanbanize

This is a powerful Kanban project & portfolio management software in the category. The platform is equipped with several features that allow you to plan, organize, and track work on a team and portfolio level. You can take advantage of the powerful analytics module and automate your processes thanks to the business rules engine. The software is extremely flexible and supports almost any use-case, plus it integrates with some of the most useful digital tools such as Google Drive, Slack, GitHub, GitLab, Power BI, and more.

Jira

With Jira, you can easily organize and track tasks. You can use the software to capture issues, assign work, and follow team activity. You can also generate different reports with Jira. However, most of them are Scrum oriented, such as Burndown charts, Burn Up charts, sprint reports, etc. Even though limited, you can also use a couple of rules to streamline your team's workflow and automate some activities.

*see how Kanbanize compares to Jira

Asana

This is a flexible software solution for workflow management. You can customize your workflow on a Kanban board, depending on your team's specific needs, and keep track of what's most important. Your team can also see real-time updates, plus you can create task dependencies. Additionally, Asana integrates with various useful digital tools.

*see how Kanbanize compares to Asana

Trello

Trello is known for being user-friendly and allowing visitors to start and understand its functionalities within a few minutes. Teams can structure and customize Trello to fit their specific requirements and work processes. Probably one of the most significant benefits of Trello is that it integrates with over 100 digital tools. This Kanban project management software is suitable for individual users or small teams who are new to Kanban.

*see how Kanbanize compares to Trello

Flow-e

Тhis is a new generation Kanban project management tool great for personal usage or small teams. The idea of Flow-e is to plan and execute your projects without even leaving your inbox. The app converts your Outlook inbox into a Kanban board and helps you manage emails and tasks in a much efficient way. Furthermore, you can delegate tasks, create and track projects, and more.

*Learn more about Flow-e

These are just a few examples that can help you build the perfect Kanban board. Actually, with Kanban software tools, you can create many different boards that cover different teams' needs. So, keep reading to learn more.

Planning Work with Kanban Software

Planning is an inevitable part of any work process, no matter how much we (Kanban practitioners) dislike it. Just like any other aspect of our work, using Kanban board software can help us become more efficient in planning too.

This is done through a pair of tools:

The backlog is a section that is rarely present on physical boards, but it is a common functionality of contemporary Kanban software solutions. You can break it down into multiple columns representing time frames (This quarter, This Month, etc.). This way, you can plan work for the near future.

Within an online Kanban tool, you can also make informed forecasts, not just wild estimations. With the help of Monte Carlo Simulations, you can run a data-based calculation to see how likely it is to finish the items in your backlog as planed. This is nearly impossible with a physical board as these simulations use workflow data on past cycle time and throughput to generate forecasts.

*Discover more about Kanban planning

Lead Time vs. Cycle Time

When selecting Kanban software for your team, make sure your tool of choice lets you collect and analyze Lead and Cycle Time. These are two of the most important Lean and Kanban metrics. At first, people tend to confuse cycle time and lead time and therefore fail to measure them properly.

Lead Time

Lead time starts when a work item is requested (not started) and ends at the moment it is delivered to the market.

Cycle time

Cycle time is all the accumulated time from the moment a team member starts working on that item to the moment it is delivered to the market.

You will be able to easily tell the difference between the two by taking a look at the image below:

Measuring lead and cycle time seems like an easy job - you can do it by counting the days a Kanban card spends on your board. However, to improve your process, you need to count the metrics for many assignments and calculate average values, so you know where you are and where you want to get.

In Kanbanize, for example, you can access a set of charts where you can track and measure the main metrics in Kanban - lead, cycle time, throughput, and WIP. They will help you uncover optimization potential within your workflow and collect data to forecast the delivery of your future projects.

Doing this on a physical Kanban board will not only waste you a lot of time and resources, but you are likely to get inaccurate results compared to a software solution.

Doing this by hand is possible but quite unnecessary and, most of all, time-consuming. This is another process you can automate by introducing Kanban software with integrated analytics.

Board Examples to Explore

As mentioned earlier, making changes to a digital Kanban board is far easier than correcting a physical one. You can add as many columns and swimlanes as you need and often experiment with different layouts to continuously improve your workflow.

As different teams require different boards and each one has its specific process steps, you will save valuable time from redrawing columns.
To illustrate the difference between boards for separate teams, let’s look at multiple examples:

Engineering BoardEngineering Assembly Kanban Board

The structure of an engineering board can vary greatly, depending on the specifics of the industry.  As in the example above, one board often is used to visualize multiple workflows of interdependent teams. Visualizing the work of “Engineering” and “Assembly” together gives a clear overview of different work items' status and ultimately increases the level of transparency in the company. Adding and removing columns and swimlanes should occasionally happen to keep your board in sync with the actual tasks that team members process.

It is common to have different swimlanes for different work types, and columns may vary for each swimlane. Having the ability to change the layout with just a few clicks will be appreciated by the process owner.

Software development boardSoftware development board example

Development boards are typically built around 3 key process stages:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing

Depending on the team, such boards may have 5 to 15 specific columns for each stage's different steps. As your team advances with Kanban, you will surely have to make multiple changes, and a Kanban project management software solution will make this a lot easier because all you need to do is click a few times to correct the board.

*Discover more Kanban board examples

Optimize Your Workflow & Project Delivery with Kanban Software

Getting started with Kanban software is a bit different than operating a physical board. You can easily edit your board with a few clicks and tailor it to your unique workflow. 

You can also put as much information you need into Kanban cards (tasks) and leave comments inside to keep communication between stakeholders visible all the time. The cards have also added functionalities like the ability to set deadlines, choosing between a wide variety of colors to distinguish tasks, history logs, etc.

All of this will give you the foundation to start optimizing your workflow, reduce wasteful activities and increase team efficiency. Once you combine the built-in analytics, as well as the ability to visualize the work of multiple teams, you will be able to measure and improve your overall project delivery processes.

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Step 1

Kanban Board Online

Physical Kanban boards are useful but lack flexibility for modern-day...

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Step 2

Kanban Swimlanes

Learn what Kanban swimlanes are and how they can help teams improve their...

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Step 3

Practical Kanban Board Examples

If you're wondering how to make a Kanban board, we've got more than one...

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Step 4

Kanban Planning

Using historical data, Kanban helps you make precise estimations about...

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Step 5

Kanban: Lead Time vs Cycle Time

What is the difference between Lead Time and Cycle Time in Kanban? How can...

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Step 6

Kanban Tools for Project Management

Kanban project management tools are a perfect fit for advanced teams that...

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Step 7

Manage Workflow with Kanban

What are the steps to developing an efficient workflow? Learn how to edit...

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Step 8

Kanban and Scrum

What is the difference between Kanban and Scrum? Why is there no Burndown...

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Step 9

The Kanban Maturity Model

The Kanban Maturity Model is for scaling Kanban to achieve robustness and...