Basic Concepts: What is a Kanban Board?

For many people, understanding things like Kanban can be quite, mostly because of the many concepts that come along with it. Despite being a logical system built to make things simpler rather than harder, lots of people can find that Kanban planning and preparation is simply too much at some times (and not worth the effort in the end, but trust me, it is worth it).

When feeling overwhelmed with the information and concepts, it may be helpful to do a bit of additional reading into the actual ways of how Kanban operates, specifically how to prepare and use a Kanban Board. This easy but important step can make it a lot simpler for someone to stick with the plan and make the whole thing come together as well as it possibly can.

Let’s start, therefore, making sure you’ll understand the central part of Kanban, the Kanban Board. Once you really get to grips with the concept and figure out how the board can be used to help improve productivity and planning, it’ll get gradually easier to understand as time goes by.

So, what is a Kanban Board?

The Kanban Board in itself is something relatively simple, like a To-Do board or listing. The difference is that this board is split up into sections to detail each point of the task evolution. The way the tasks are shown on the Kanban Board ensures that the whole perspective of the work environment can be read as one, making sure that each department can see their tasks as well of other department’s.

Typically, each section of the board – let’s say, the activities the development department are currently doing – has a pre-determined task limit, ensuring that nobody is ever overwhelmed and productivity can be maintained. If – or when – jobs start to pack up and overflow (creating a task backlog), the natural tendency is that people start to panic about what to do and how to stem the tide.

The best way to do this is determining task limits with a Kanban Board, ensuring no one will be assigned more tasks they can deal with. It will stop people from overwhelming themselves and others by being a strong, clear deterrent to those that just keep loading jobs onto other groups and waiting for them to work their way through the task.

Now, with these “barriers”, there will no longer be imbalances between what the Testing team is doing and what the Development and Planning teams are doing, allowing for consistency and harmony to be spread throughout your business at a truly rapid speed.

Are Kanban Boards actual Physical Boards?

It all depends, really! In the very beginning of the Kanban methodology, the Kanban Board was an actual physical board with cards (or sticky notes) attached to it, detailing the tasks and which phase they were on.

There are lots of groups that do their Kanban Board planning with a physical board in the office so that everyone can see their tasks as they walk by, and so that it can be updated live time for everyone to follow.

The structure of the Kanban Board itself can then be gradually modified and changed as the product mature, what allows for strong and conscious development to take place rather quickly within the organization. These evolutions also make it much easier for people to follow the kind of progress and planning that they need to really establish themselves as the “go-to” guys within their organization.

The Kanban boards can be used online too and, due to the actual ease of making up one of these charts it’s very easy for someone to create the “right” kind of board that fits exactly what you needed and what you have been asking for along the way.

It takes a bit of short planning and preparation to get the job done and to make sure that it fits with the style and the requirements needed, also giving people access to the Kanban Board as and when they need it – even during the night!

Online Cloud Boards

Another hugely popular form of Kanban Board is the Online Cloud Board. Given the power of the online world and the way that cloud technology controls so many different aspects of our lives now, it’s very easy to see how having a Cloud Board could be a strong and effective possibility.

They make it easy for people to view the project either from the office or at the comfort of their homes, from their computers or from their tablets or smartphones in bed. It allows everyone to keep up to date with the project, update it on the go as soon as any change happens – like when a seller contacts a prospect customer and updates the status on the sales pipeline – and to make sure its developing in the way that it was supposed to.

This allows for a whole change in the way that the business is being operated, in general. The unique advantage of having something like a Cloud Board is that it allows for automated tracking and analysis of the projects, ensuring that things like work time tracking and time reports can be placed into the Kanban Board.

When working with a physical board overloaded with post-it notes and the like it’s harder to stay so up to date with the data but, with the help of a Cloud Kanban Board, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to manage at capacity.

Kanban Board For Any Industry

The most important aspect of the Kanban Board, though, is the fact that it provides such an easy way for people to make a clinical difference to the way that their business is developing and growing in the long-term.

It’s methodology was originally built for software development to follow but it actually fits with any industry that has more than one team working on the same project. By simply allowing for easy and effective delegation, this does nothing wrong and only offers the most reliable and effective form of keeping your business in check properly.

To do this, you just need to look at the Kanban Board and the Kanban methodology in general. This helps you really grab the bull by the horns and make sure the entire job is being managed and prepared in the way that you had originally planned, regardless of your intentions.

With the right kind of Board and the right type of planning, though, any kind of business can start to increase their productivity their profits, their sales and their overall image with clients just through some systematic changes to the way that they handle various aspects of their product planning.

Want to start managing your tasks with a Kanban Board right away?

Try Pipefy! We help companies keep organised and more productive by running their processes and day-by-day routines on an easy and intuitive tool, making them leave in the past inefficient manual forms, spreadsheets and email threads.

Pipefy’s Task Management Template was specially developed to help you manage yours and your team’s tasks without breaking a sweat.

This template shows you in an organised and simplified manner what everyone is currently doing, what they have to do, and what is already done. It also highlights what are the priorities, what’s on time, what’s late and what’s potentially creating bottlenecks.

Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.