Kanban software solutions can help you gain better work visibility and foster team collaboration. Kanban software will assist you to achieve continual process improvement thanks to all the added functionalities that come with it such as tracking, reporting, forecasting and more.
Why Do You Need a Digital Kanban Board?
Although physical boards are a fantastic way to get started with Kanban, in the long run, you’ll find out that they are inferior to contemporary Kanban software solutions on many occasions.
Physical boards are messy and hard to maintain
Creating a physical board is a good way to get started with the method because your team will have to actually go to the board frequently to keep it up to date. This way they will build a habit of moving cards according to their progress.
Unfortunately, when the workflow is complex and there’s a lot going on in the workflow, physical boards tend to get messy and difficult to maintain. Sticky notes can easily be damaged and lost in the clutter if the team consists of many people and there is a substantial amount of cards on the board.
In addition, your physical board has limited space and is more difficult to evolve when you decide to experiment with different layouts.
Digital Kanban boards are accessible from anywhere
One of the greatest benefits of digital Kanban boards is that they are accessible from any point of the globe with an internet connection. This makes Kanban software solutions more suitable for managing remote teams.
As soon as somebody updates the board, everyone can see the changes in real time and all the information for the different tasks is one click away. This removes the need for frequent status reporting, which helps you reduce wasteful meetings.
Kanban software solutions come with process analytics
A substantial part of improving a work process is measuring how it performs and identifying room for improvement. Most of the available Kanban software solutions come with extensive sets of process analytics that allow you to measure workflow performance for long periods of time.
You can gather and compare data for metrics such as lead time, cycle time, throughput and even forecast future performance based on historical data.
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 experiment often with different layouts to continuously improve your workflow.
As different teams require different boards and each one has its own specific process steps, you will save valuable time from redrawing columns and swimlanes as well as money from buying larger boards when your teams grow and your processes become more complex.
To illustrate the difference between boards for seperate teams, let’s look at multiple examples:
Software development board
Development boards are typically built around 3 key process stages:
Depending on the team, such boards may have 5 to 15 specific columns for the different steps in each stage. As your team advances with Kanban, you will surely have to make multiple changes and a Kanban software solution will make this a lot easier because all you need to do is click a few times to correct the board.
Marketing boards are among those that require most frequent changes due to the wide variety of activities that the team has. Adding and removing columns and swimlanes should happen occasionally to keep your board in sync with the actual tasks that team members process.
It is common to have a great number of swimlanes for the different types of work and columns may vary for each one. Having the ability to change the layout with just a few clicks will definitely be appreciated by the process owner.
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, Kanban can help us become more efficient in planning.
This is done through a pair of tools:
- The backlog section of a board
- Monte Carlo simulations
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.
In order to make an informed forecast, not just a wild estimation, you can rely on Monte Carlo simulations to see how likely you are to actually finish the items in your backlog according to plan. Once again this is nearly impossible with a physical board because these simulations use workflow data on past cycle time and throughput to generate forecasts.
Lead Time vs Cycle Time
We mentioned cycle time multiple times so far in this article because it is one of the most important metrics in Lean and Kanban in particular. At first, people tend to confuse cycle time and lead time and therefore fail to measure them properly.
Lead time is the time a work item spends in the backlog or requested section of your board (depending on the implementation) between the second it was requested and the moment it is delivered to market.
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 market.
Measuring lead time and cycle time seems like an elementary task - you just count the days a Kanban card spends on your board. However, to improve your process you need to account these metrics for a large number of assignments and calculate average values so you know where you are and where you want to get.
Doing this by hand is possible, but quite unnecessary and most of all time-taking when you can automate the process by relying on the analytics integrated into contemporary Kanban software solutions.
How to Get Started with Kanban Software
If you’ve already decided that you are ready to make the switch from a physical board to a Kanban software solution or want to go digital from the start, you need to find a tool that fits your business case the most.
You should carefully screen the available features and see how they fit your process. Cho?sing one software solution over another just because it is cheaper or looks better is not a wise decision.
For example, we have specialized Kanbanize to meet the needs of software development, project and product management teams, as well as those of agile marketers. We have been and will continue to develop features that will enhance the work performance of such teams.
How to Edit & Optimize Your Kanban Workflow
Getting started with Kanban software is a bit different than operating a physical board. The first thing that makes a serious impression is that you can edit your board with just a few clicks.
Also, you can put as much information you need into Kanban cards and leave comments inside to keep communication between stakeholders visible all the time. In addition, the cards have added functionalities like the ability to set deadlines, choosing between a wide variety of card colors to distinguish tasks, history log, etc.
Also, you can set WIP limits per column or section that are absolute and your team won’t be able to go over them unless you explicitly allow it.
Kanban vs Scrum Software
Many agile teams are struggling to choose between Scrum and Kanban. Often, in the consideration process comes the question what’s the difference between Kanban software and Scrum software.
There is a simple answer to it. The main difference is how you manage your work. Scrum is iterative framework while Kanban relies on continuous flow. Therefore, a project board software can be used for both Scrum and Kanban implementation.
If you practice Scrum, you’ll be restarting your board for every sprint and redraw it periodically. If Kanban is your method of choice, everything you read so far in this article remains valid.
This article summarizes the most important knowledge you need to obtain about Kanban software solutions. If you are hungry for more information, check out our dedicated articles below.
Kanban Board Examples for Different Teams
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
- General George Patton
Kanban Project Management Tools - Why and How to Get Started
Kanban is like the milkman. Mom didn’t give the milkman a schedule. She simply put the empties on the front steps and the milkman replenished them. That is the essence of a pull system.
- Ernie Smith
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