Kanban Software Guide | How to Choose the Best Tool for You

Get insightful tips and discover detailed information about Kanban software and how it translates Kanban into powerful features

Introduction

Kanban software solutions can help you gain better work visibility and foster team collaboration. They will assist you in achieving continual process improvement thanks to all the added functionalities such as tracking, limiting work in progress, reporting, forecasting and more.

kanban board selection guide
Click on the image to enlarge

What Is a Kanban App/Software?

Physical boards are a fantastic way to get started with Kanban. However, in the long run, Kanban software tools are much more convenient, and they offer many helpful features that can save you tons of time.

Kanban software tools let you visualize, organize and manage work in the most convenient way. With such tools you can easily cut waste activities, automate some of your work processes and focus on work that brings real value to your customers.

Kanban software tools advantages:

  • Accessible from everywhere
  • Suitable for remote teams
  • Immediate updates/Changes go live
  • 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:

  • Adaptability, swimlanes, limiting work in progress, columns flexibility
  • Attaching files, assigning tasks, link tasks
  • Analytics/Reporting
  • Automation
  • Integrations

Some of the Best Kanban Software Solutions

Without any unnecessary suspense, let's check out some useful tools you can use. Just have in mind that some of them are more suitable for personal use, while others can be also applied on a team and company level.

Kanbanize

This is one of the most powerful Kanban agile software solutions in the category. The platform is equipped with a number of features that allow you to plan, organize and track work on a team and company level. You can take advantage of the powerful analytics module and automate your processes thanks 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 and etc.

Jira

With Jira you can easily organize and track tasks. You can use the software in order to capture issues, assign work and follow team activity. You can generate different reports with Jira, but they are more Scrum oriented, such as Burndown charts, Burn Up charts, sprint report and 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

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

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 requirement and work processes. Probably one of the biggest benefits of Trello is that it integrates with over 100 digital tools. This kanban app is good for individual users or small teams who are new to Kanban.

*see how Kanbanize compares to Trello

Flow-e

Speaking of personal usage or small teams, here is a Kanban board software of a new generation. The concept of Flow-e is to plan and execute your projects without even leaving your inbox. The app converts your Gmail or Outlook inbox into a Kanban board. It can help you manage emails and tasks in a much efficient way, 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 build many different boards that cover the needs of different teams. So, keep reading to learn more.

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

Software 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 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 board

Marketing board example

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.

*Discover more Kanban board examples

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, 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
Kanban board planning

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.

*Discover more about Kanban planning

Lead Time vs Cycle Time

If you want to succeed with Kanban, you better find Kanban software that lets you collect and analyze these two metrics.. They are probably the most important ones 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

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 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 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.

Editing an online Kanban board

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.

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.

Step 1

Digital Kanban Board: Why do you need it?

Read more

Digital Kanban Board: Why do you need it?
Step 2

Kanban Board Examples for Different Teams

Read more

Kanban Board Examples for Different Occasions
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.

- General George Patton

Step 3

What is Kanban Planning?

Read more

Comp
Step 4

Kanban Lead Time vs Cycle Time Details Explained

Read more

Kanban Lead Time and Cycle Time
Step 5

Kanban Project Management Tools - Why and How to Get Started

Read more

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

Step 6

How to Edit & Optimize Your Kanban Workflow

Read more

How to Edit & Optimize Your Kanban Workflow
Step 7

Kanban vs Scrum Software: What’s the Difference?

Read more

Kanban vs Scrum. What are the Differences Between Kanban and Scrum Software?

Looking for a Kanban Solution?

Invite your team for a 30-day free trial, with access to all of our features, and almost no limits. By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy.