Kanban software is designed to provide better visualization of work and more flexibility for ongoing process improvement for particular industries than more traditional project management and work tracking software. An effective Kanban board software system improves team collaboration and communication and automatically generates metrics and reports that provide insight into the progress, pace, and predictability of work processes.
One difference between Kanban board software and Agile project management software is that Agile is usually designed around some variant of a process-oriented methodology, such as Scrum, while Kanban board software gives teams the freedom to map their own processes. As a result, teams gain a better understanding of their work and the stages that must occur for work to progress from “to-do” to “done.”
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Why Use Kanban Software?
Traditionally, teams practicing Kanban have used tools such as whiteboards, sticky notes, and markers to demonstrate workflows, project status, and task ownership. Teams often hold daily standup meetings around the physical whiteboard to assess priorities and discuss any roadblocks or bottlenecks that may be delaying progress.
Teams that use Kanban board software to help them manage work have definite advantages over those that only use whiteboards and sticky notes. With Kanban tools, teams can:
- Increase project visibility across multiple sites
- Encourage real-time collaboration and communication
- Automatically collect data for later analysis
- Easily evolve and improve team processes
As more teams transition to working remotely, the need for online Kanban software has increased. More organizations are outsourcing work, so it's not uncommon for a business team located in the US to work closely with a development team located in a different country. Similarly, companies that hire contractors, freelancers, and part-time associates who work from home need a way to collaborate and maintain open lines of communication among team members.
Since the basic idea of Kanban software is much the same as a physical Kanban board, teams that adopt Kanban board software can immediately see how easy it is to create and assign tasks, visualize work and workflow, and identify and experiment with opportunities for improvement.
How to Choose the Best Kanban Board Software
To find the best Kanban board software for your team or organization, assess the current and future needs of the organization. Then you can find a scalable Kanban tool that will scale as the company grows.
A good rule of thumb for enterprise teams is to consider a virtual Kanban tool with scalability and security features. When it’s time to expand, you won’t need to switch tools, which can be costly and disruptive.
Ease of use and flexibility are also important considerations. If a tool is too difficult to use or not flexible enough to model your team's real work processes, adopting the new tool can be tough. It's important to select a tool that's flexible and powerful enough to meet your company's needs.
Questions to ask when choosing a Kanban software tool
- How many people will be using the software for the pilot?
- How many people will be using the system after a complete rollout?
- Will Kanban software be the only tool in use, or will it need to be integrated with existing systems or complemented with additional new software?
- What kind of reporting tools will best analyze processes and track progress?
Basic checklist for Kanban software
- Built-in work-in-progress (WIP) limits
- The ability to assign work to multiple team members
- Flexibility and scalability in board design
- Flexibility in card construction
- Easy-to-use collaboration features
- Companion mobile applications
- The ability to support and coordinate multiple boards and multiple teams
- The ability to integrate with and share data with existing enterprise software systems
- Metrics and reports for analyzing the flow of work
One of the biggest challenges for managers seeking productivity software solutions is finding one that can be integrated with existing enterprise software (e.g. project management software, social collaboration software, and developer tools). When selecting a Kanban software system, they must choose one that will fit well into the existing ecosystem and support the organization’s current and future needs.