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Kanban tools and software

by Simon Buehring
Learn how the right kanban tool can revolutionise your workflow and project management, offering streamlined processes and improved team productivity.
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Kanban Tools and Software | agilekrc.com

Introduction

Kanban, a popular method for managing workflow, has its roots in the Japanese manufacturing sector. Its adaptability has allowed it to transition from production floors to various business environments.

At its core, Kanban revolves around visualising work using a Kanban board, limiting work in progress, and enhancing flow. This article delves into the choice between digital and analogue Kanban tools, factors to consider when selecting a digital solution, and an overview of prevalent Kanban software.

Analogue versus digital Kanban tools

Analogue tools, such as physical boards with sticky notes or cards, are straightforward to implement and offer a tangible experience of organising work. Visibility is immediate, with the entire team able to see the board at a glance.

It can foster a sense of collaboration, as team members gather around the board to discuss updates and changes. Yet analogue systems have limitations, such as being confined to a physical location, challenges in tracking history, and limited accessibility for remote team members.

In contrast, digital Kanban tools offer flexibility and a wealth of features not found in their physical counterparts. They are accessible from multiple devices and locations, providing real-time updates that are pivotal for distributed teams. Digital tools often come with integrated analytics, key Kanban metrics, automated reporting functions, and the ability to attach files or links directly to tasks.

However, they can incur costs, require training, and introduce complexity that some teams may find superfluous. Some teams prefer to spend their training budget on having their team learn Kanban through a certification programme, rather than invest in expensive tools.

Choosing a digital Kanban tool

When selecting a digital Kanban tool, several factors merit careful consideration:

Features

Assess if the tool supports the Kanban essentials: visualisation of work, work in progress limits, and flow management. Look for additional functionalities like customisable boards, swimlanes, sub-tasks, and integration capabilities with other tools.

Pricing

Pricing models can vary from free versions with basic features to subscription-based models that scale with your team’s size and the advanced features you need. Consider the total cost of ownership, including any potential charges for additional users or integrations.

Usability

The chosen tool should be user-friendly, with an intuitive interface that does not steepen the learning curve. It should be easy to set up, with minimal time required for training team members.

Scalability

Your chosen tool should be able to grow with your team and accommodate an increasing workload without performance deterioration.

Security

As with any digital platform, ensure that the tool adheres to industry-standard security protocols, especially if sensitive data is involved.

Support and community

Evaluate the level of support provided by the tool’s company. Access to a strong user community can also be invaluable for sharing best practices and troubleshooting.

Commonly used Kanban tools

Now, let’s explore some of the most commonly used digital Kanban tools.

Trello

Trello is known for its simplicity and ease of use, featuring a straightforward drag-and-drop interface. It is suitable for individuals and small teams looking for a basic Kanban experience.

Jira

Jira offers a more comprehensive set of features tailored for Agile and software development teams. It provides robust reporting and customisation options.

Kanbanize

Kanbanize is designed for larger organisations with complex workflows. Its analytics module is particularly strong for managing and improving flow efficiency.

Kanban tool for Microsoft Teams

Integrated with Microsoft Teams, this tool offers the convenience of managing Kanban boards within the Teams environment, facilitating collaboration.

Asana

Known for task management, Asana offers Kanban boards as part of its feature set, with a focus on team collaboration.

LeanKit

LeanKit caters to large teams with sophisticated needs, offering advanced features for mapping complex processes.

Monday.com

A versatile work operating system that includes Kanban boards alongside other project management methodologies.

Free Kanban tools

There are free Kanban tool options available, such as KanbanFlow, MeisterTask and Wekan, which provide basic Kanban functionality without the financial commitment. These can be a good starting point for smaller teams or those new to Kanban.

These free tools might also be suitable for people looking for a personal Kanban solution, or for getting ideas for setting up their first boards by checking out examples of Kanban boards.

Learning Kanban tools

Like anything, the become expert in using any tool requires practice. To get started though there isn’t usually a Kanban course or Kanban certification which equips you with the skills to start using such tools. Therefore, you would need to start by studying the many video tutorials, how-to, and explainer articles on the tool websites.

Conclusion

In conclusion, whether you opt for a digital or analogue Kanban tool, the choice should be informed by your team’s specific needs, the nature of your projects, and your operational context. Digital tools present an array of features and accessibility options, but the right fit depends on the factors outlined above.

By thoroughly assessing these considerations, teams can leverage Kanban tools effectively to streamline workflows and enhance productivity.

Learn from agile leaders

agileKRC has helped shape agile thinking by leading the teams that developed AgilePM® and PRINCE2 Agile®. We take a practical, success-oriented approach. We begin by taking the time to listen and understand your needs, before offering our real-world experience and expert guidance.

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