Basic Concepts: What is a Kanban Card

(Yeah, that’s not the kind of card we’re talking about, but who cares, it’s a Batcard!)

Sometimes understanding just what a Kanban card is can be quite a challenge – it’s a term very often heard of within enterprises today, but what they do and what they have to offer is actually not very well specified, even by those actively using Kanban Boards.

To make sure that this will not be your case, it’s important to interpret the Kanban card as more than just an actual card or a piece of sticky paper (when talking about a physical Kanban Board, of course, online it’s more of a text box of information) – it represents so much more than this.

So, what is a Kanban Card?

Kanban is a visible element(a card that can be physical or digital) that’s used to trigger a task/an action – the origin of the word kanban is Japanese and, roughly translated, it means “card you can see”/billboard.

Kanban Cards, therefore, are means to schedule/authorise actions, such as follow-up e-mails in a sales pipeline. The cards are ways to create tasks, create workflows and establish communication between two or more departments involved in the same task.

Kanban cards are also used as a mean of scheduling and preparing a business to move forward in the right way and to fully understand what they are dealing with in terms of workflows and tasks.

How is a Kanban card used?

The use of the Kanban methodology, board and cards makes sure that a production line is being managed properly, and that everything is at the right place in the queue before more units can be produced or the next action can be taken.

They are used as a form of flow indication, so that there can be no doubt about where the business is at with regards to a certain project. They are most commonly used within a lean business model and is a very effective manner to control waste and ensure that are being processed effectively.

As soon as the cards “enter” the board and are accounted for, they are put into action in order to fill the requirements to proceed to the next steps. This helps ensuring that the entire process’ flow is working well and the various departments involved can all communicate and work together effectively.

Cards on Pipefy:

On Pipefy, for a card to enter the flow, there’s a start form to be filled – each of our templates comes with a pre-developed start form, with the generic information we deemed relevant for it. They are, however, fully customisable to better fit your needs so you can ask for the exact information you want people to give when opening a card.

The same happens before you can move the card to the next phase (the equivalent to a column on your Kanban Board – there are pre-defined information in each of the templates phases, but they’re always changeable to better suit your needs: you can delete, add and change existing fields.

Typically, a Kanban Card is fairly simple and basic in design; it’ll come with things relevant to the task in question, like product specifications and requirements for the next phase, as well as things like deadlines and even production numbers.

Even when used in different environments, such as managing your own day-to-day tasks, the cards essentially come loaded with all of the information that would be needed for anyone to truly understand what they need to do just following the Kanban card.

The most important thing about using Kanban Cards and the Kanban methodology as a whole, though, is that they allow for easy and swift detection of any errors. With everything delivered to the very last dot as to what is required to minimize wastage and things being held up, there is an easy way to understand when a problem has occurred earlier on in the production line.

Start using Kanban with Pipefy!

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.