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What is Kanban software?
Kanban is a visual project scheduling and management tool designed in the early 1940s by Taiichi Ohno, a Japanese engineer and businessman. Kanban software displays projects and underlying tasks in the form of daily “to-dos,” mapped against time and resources. It helps teams complete projects with an emphasis on continuous delivery in a collaborative space.
Kanban is based on 3 basic principles:
- Visualize a “to-do” list for the day.
- Define the amount of work in progress (WIP) and avoid overallocation.
- Enhance workflows by pulling the next high-priority task from the backlog as soon as a given task is completed.
Businesses can purchase Kanban tools as a standalone solution or as part of a larger project management suite.
The benefits of Kanban software
- Increases transparency and accountability: Kanban tools provide boards that are accessible to everyone working on a project. These boards provide clarity into who will do what, and when. This brings transparency into workflows and keeps everyone prepared for their assignments. Each individual is responsible for completing the assigned task and moving it along the board, which brings accountability within the team and fosters collaboration within the company.
- Makes tasks and projects flexible: With Kanban tools, users can easily prioritize their backlog tasks and simply drag them from the previous board to the current one. This adds the scope of flexibility to the workflow.
Typical features of Kanban software
- Task management: Break projects down into series of tasks and manage their execution throughout the project lifecycle.
- Prioritization: Rank projects and tasks in order of their relevance to the business.
- Visual workflow management: Develop, share, and execute projects using visual tools and interfaces.
- Collaboration tools: Facilitate communication and coordination between teams and individuals.
- Project planning: Plan various stages of projects and manage tasks, workflows, and resource allocation.
- Milestone tracking: Set and track project-related deadlines and accomplishments.
- Time tracking: Assign a duration to each task and track the time spent completing individual tasks as well as overall projects.
Considerations when purchasing Kanban software
- Open source vs. proprietary: There are many open source Kanban tools available on the market, most of which are free. These tools fulfill most of the basic project management needs and may be suited for small and midsize businesses. On the downside, they generally lack dedicated support or training resources from the vendor and require expertise for customization. Consider this option if you’re well-versed in Kanban templates and workflows or have the resources to hire expert help. On the other hand, if you’re a beginner and have limited understanding of Kanban, go for proprietary tools, which typically offer the necessary training and support.
- Industry-specific vs. general Kanban tools: There are a variety of industry-specific Kanban solutions (such as Kanban tools for software developers or Kanban tools for construction businesses), which are typically more expensive. Evaluate your specific needs against your budget before purchasing.
- Integrations: It’s important that the software you choose integrates with your existing business applications as well as the applications you plan to use in the future. Kanban software that integrates with other business applications is beneficial in terms of exchanging project-related data.
Relevant Kanban software trends
- Kanban is a popular project management methodology: According to the State of Scrum 2018 report, over 60% of the respondents report using Kanban for project management as opposed to only 16% that used pure Scrum.
- Bots and AI will automate Kanban workflows: Some popular Kanban products already offer bots to automatically assign tasks and move tasks from one board to another. Artificial intelligence (AI) embedded within Kanban tools can aid in exploring large volumes of data and making relevant decisions to help project managers identify paths that will be most efficient for project completion.