Kanban board

Learn how to start, edit and clone your Kanban board. Information on managing the board's shape: swimlanes and columns, adding policies and WIP limits, as well as smarting-up the look of your boards.

How to edit a board?

You can edit an existing board at any time from its Settings - Board Editor panel: How to edit a board - Settings How to edit a board - accessing board editor

The pencil icon under a column or swimlane name allows to change its properties, the split-fork icon divides a column into sub-columns, and the bin icon deletes the column (you will be asked what should be done with any cards currently in it). The right, left, up, and down arrow icons allow you to change the order of the columns and swimlanes.

Please note, board settings are not accessible to all account users. Team members, who can access settings are those, that were given at least a project manager privilege or were made a board owner.

What are swimlanes and how to use them?

Kanban Tool’s swimlanes are a fantastic way to manage several similar projects on one board, bringing an overview of them all to one place, while still leaving you the ability to concentrate on just one at a time, through collapsing the others.

You’re welcome to make use of them in any way you like. Below are the most common examples.

  • Keeping one swimlane per client or per product.
    This saves you the effort of recreating similar boards - instead, you're only adding new swimlanes. It will work, if all clients that you have or all products that you develop, all follow more-less the same process steps - columns:
    (Click to open a full size view.) Swimlane per Product - small
  • Keeping one swimlane per team.
    For processes complex enough to involve multiple teams, it may be of benefit to visualize the process steps as columns, and to show which team is currently in charge of which tasks, by use of swimlanes. So that your process flows not just from left to right, but also from top to bottom.
    On the image below, you see that work in 2 topmost swimlanes is already done and that most jobs now lie with the 3rd swimlane's team. As they get working, tasks will move towards the right, then down to the next team's swimlane: Swimlane per Team - small
  • Keeping one swimlane per employee.
    For smaller teams organisation, it's not uncommon to use one row per person, to gain instant visibility into various team members' workload: Swimlane per Person - small

If you’re unsure how to add a swimlane to your board, please see this page.

Is it possible to add columns or swimlanes to an existing Kanban board?

Yes, you can edit your workflow at any time.

While on a board, please go to Settings - Board Editor. You can add columns and swimlanes from there with the green +add column and +add swimlane buttons.
You may also change the order in which the columns appear on the board, remove or rename them. The look of any board can be altered at any time.

Please note, board Settings are not accessible to all account users. Team members, who can access Settings are those, that were given at least a project manager privilege, or were made a board owner.

How to collapse a column or a swimlane on my Kanban board?

You can easily collapse columns and swimlanes to avoid scrolling your board, or when you just want to hide some of them for less visual noise. Click on the header of the column or swimlane, and it will collapse. Kanban board column or swimlane collapsing

And in order to unfold an element back again, click on the collapsed column or swimlane name. How to collapse a column or a swimlane on my Kanban board

How to set a Work in Progress (WIP) limit?

To set a WIP limit, go to board Settings: Settings Location

From there, enter the Board editor and click on the pencil icon to edit the Work in Progress limit. Kanban board - workflow editor

There are four WIP limit settings to choose a limit:

  • By tasks - creates a WIP limit for a specified number of tasks in a column.
  • By hours of estimated time - creates a WIP limit for a specified number hours of estimated time of work - please see more about time estimates here.
  • By difficulty - each task has its own difficulty and you may set the sum of the allowed difficulty for a column.
  • Per user - specify the limit for each assigned user.

Just choose your preferred WIP limit type, fill the Work In Progress value in the numeric field, and save your changes. Editing WIP limits

Wondering what’s the general idea behind using WIP limits? Please read this article.

How do I add Kanban policies to my Kanban board?

Kanban board policies are a way to present guidelines about your process stages (columns) and swimlanes (rows). They are specifically useful when you’re reinventing your process and the team needs reminders on how things should now be done.

Policies are also of help when your company experiences a significant employee turnover and there are always new team members, in need of extra information on how to deal with items on the board.

To add a Kanban policy, while on a board, please go to Settings - Board Editor. Settings location

Once in Board editor, click on the pencil icon below the column or swimlane name, that you want to add the policy to. Kanban board - workflow editor

Then simply fill in the Policy description field. The policy will be available for every Kanban board user, displayed when hovering over the blue info icon on a board. Kanban Tool Lane Policy

How can I print a Kanban board?

To print out your Kanban board try one of these three methods:

  • Go to the Tools menu and click Take a screenshot. How can I print a Kanban board? Once the image is ready, open it and press CTRL and P or go to File - Print.
    Please note: this option is not supported in Internet Explorer 8 or lower.
  • Use the shortcut keys:
    press CTRL and P to open the printer settings dialogue, then click on the print button.

    Please note, that each browser has its own implementation of print function, and results may vary.
    You may get the best results with Firefox, after enabling printing of background colors and images. Chrome also works well, but may require the Print background colors extension to be installed.
    For other browsers, the setting for printing background images is usually disabled by default. You need to find an option to enable printing background images. This can usually be found in a Page Setup section of a Printer Setting dialogue.

    Printing out boards which size exceeds your screen area

    If your board is very large, and portions of it are outside the visible screen area, you can still capture screenshots of all columns and swimlanes - or of a very long open card - by using this advanced browser-based 3-step option (for Chrome):
    • CTRL + SHIFT + J
    • CTRL + SHIFT + P
    • Select Capture full size screenshot - the entire page will download as an image.
  • Make a printscreen of your Kanban board. Press the PrintScreem key on your keyboard and paste it in any graphic program you use (e.g. Paint, Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP) and print it from that program, or save and print the image.

Why use multiple Kanban boards and what can I use a Kanban board for?

The potential of Kanban board usage is boundless. What you do with a board depends on you and on how you like to work.
One of our customers tracks the production of knee replacement implants - when we say “boundless potential” we mean it!

You can use the boards in many different ways:

  • as a list - eg. a list of processes: marketing, sales, development or a list of ideas; or a list of projects within a company
  • as a reminder - of appointments, meetings and important tasks
  • to track all the activities and work to do, optionally split visually with swimlanes
  • to follow each of your projects separately - this way you can see metrics in Analytics tab for each project separately
  • to organize work for each customer separately - when you work for multiple customers, requiring various types of work, going through different flows.

You’re welcome to view examples of Kanban board use cases, board layouts and case studies.

My cards are out of alignment and my board looks messy. What can I do to fix it?

Different card sizes may cause empty spaces to show between cards.
But we’ve made a Developer Tools Power-Up, that allows you to fix card heights and prevent them from going out of alignment. Before and After Fixed Card Height Script

Go to Settings - Power-Ups and enable the Developer Tools.
Here you can paste the Fixed Card Height script from our GitHub database. Developer Tools Fixed Card Height

There are 4 height options for you to choose from.
Note: Don’t worry, applying this Power-Up will not affect board performance.

Please note, board settings are not accessible to all account users. Team members, who can access them are those, that were given at least a project manager privilege or were made a board owner.

Can I clone my boards?

Love the way your Kanban board has been set up? Want to re-use it in another project? Feel free to clone it!

To clone an entire board with its settings - layout, card types, card template, enabled Power-Ups - and with all visible tasks, go to the Dashboard. Click the more icon, next to the name of the board you want to duplicate, and select clone. Clone a board

Then, fill in the new board name, check the clone all visible tasks box and hit Clone board.

Please note, that this option intentionally doesn’t clone the archived tasks, nor active task comments and assignments.

I cannot see any boards or folders, why? How to share a board?

If you don’t see any boards or folders when you log in, it means that the team member, who invited you to the account, has not shared anything with you yet.
Please ask them to share a board with you.

Account owners, admins an project managers can share boards with others. The fastest way to do is, is through the Share option, available in the top right corner of each board, next to Settings, Tools and Filter box. The on-board Share option

It’s also possible to invite people to the account via the People tab, and then decide which boards and folders they should see, from the Dashboard (all boards list) - just click the share option visible next to each Kanban board or folder name, and choose in what capacity the items should be accessible to a team member. Full, read-only, or custom access is possible to set. Kanban Board Sharing

You can also share boards with entire User Groups, provided that you’re using the Enterprise service plan.

When should I move a task to Waiting on Kanban board?

Kanban is an incremental, evolutionary process based on a constant improvement approach, called Kaizen. Use of the Waiting column depends on your workflow, capacity, and the WIP limits applied to the “In progress” column. Here are the 2 most common scenarios in which a Waiting column is used:

  • You should move tasks to Waiting when you are ready to be pulling new tasks. When planning your work for a day, or a week, place as many tasks as you should be able to complete within this time in the Waiting column. It will create a buffer with all your planned tasks, from which you’ll be able to pull after completing previous work.

  • You should move a task to Waiting when it’s waiting for somebody else’s approval, or more information is needed to complete it.
    In multi-leveled teamwork, it’s a common occurrence for senior team members to delegate tasks to the junior team. These tasks then may require approval or comments from the assigning personnel. I.e.: you’ve completed the work for now, but it needs approval - so you move the task to Waiting. Once approved, it will either be moved back to Doing for you to change something, or it’ll be moved to Done.

Related: Remember to set a WIP limit on your Working column.
You can find more information about WIP limits and Kanban boards here: Importance of Kanban WIP limits and Kanban board.

There are many more possible uses for a Waiting column, feel free to use a solution that works best for you and your team.

Where can I see a card type legend?

The easiest way to show a card types key on a board, is to enable the Card Legend Power-Up. Card legend

Another way to peek at the available card types is to navigate to Settings - Card Type. This is also where you can change the existing card types, or add more.

If you like, you can also set up a card type legend through the Lane Policy field.
To try it, go to Settings - Board editor, then edit the column in which you want the card legend to be displayed, and enter your information as Lane Policy / Description field. You will be able to view it by hovering over the columns information button: Card Legend Example

Finally, you can glance at what types of cards there are, by right-clicking any task and testing the Change Type option. With or without changing the type, you will see what card types there are to choose from. Change the Card Type Legend View

How to create a board?

To create a new board, simply navigate to your Dashboard - home icon at the top-left of a board view - and use the blue Create new board link.

How to create a board

You will be asked to name your process steps and card types, you will also be allowed to add a few tasks to start with, as well as to choose a background image for your board.

Creating a new board

If you want to use the Time Tracking & Reporting and have task timers start and stop seamlessly, as cards move through the process, make sure to assign appropriate Lane Types to your doing and done columns. You can do this any time from board Settings - Board Editor.

If you’re using Kanban Tool Team or Enterprise plan, you can create as many boards as you want to. Free plan users are limited to 2 boards only. Your plan choice can be managed from Account Administration - Plan & Billing details.

How to sort cards on my board?

Kanban prescribes that cards are added to the bottom of a column - and that’s where they will be added when you add a new task in Kanban Tool. To-do items should be picked up from the top of the column, keeping the First-In-First-Out order, thereby making sure that no tasks linger on the board for months on end.

If, however, you’d like to have the cards sorted in any other way, you are welcome to do so. There is a built-in sorting option for each column of the board. Simply right-click a column header and choose the parameter that you want to have the cards sorted by: Card Sorting The option is also available when right-clicking an empty area within a column.

Multiple selection: How to edit a number of tasks at once?

To edit or move a few tasks at once, simply select your tasks while pressing the CTRL button. You’ll notice, that the selected tasks will have a deeper shadow underneath them: Multiple Card Selection

From there on, a right-click on any of the selected items will open edit options related to all selected tasks: Editing multiple cards

If you need to edit a multitude of tasks at the same time, consider using the import functionality. For as long as you provide IDs of tasks already present on the board, the imported information will overwrite their current data.

How to manage my project backlog?

How you choose to organize and manage your project backlog is totally up to you - please choose a method that suits you best.
Below are a few commonly used strategies that you may find helpful.

If you’re not sure how to edit your board in order to test these approaches, please view this entry.

Does Kanban Tool have a Sprint feature?

While there is no dedicated sprint feature in Kanban Tool, it’s not uncommon for users to implement sprints regardless. There’s some freedom in how to approach this.

The easiest way is to make one of the backlog columns a current sprint column. From that column on, work progresses through all other stages, until the sprint column is empty. Meanwhile, any tasks for future sprints can be added to the backlog stages preceding the current sprint column. Does Kanban Tool have a Sprint feature?

Other successful Kanban Tool sprint approaches are:

  • Using a new swimlane for each sprint
  • Tagging tasks related to one sprint with a specific tag
  • Assigning a set card color to cards within a set sprint.
  • Creating a tree of dependencies between cards within one sprint.

Is there an auto-archive feature?

To speed up archiving done tasks, you’re welcome to use the archive all option, available under right-click on a column header or on empty space between cards. Archive all tasks on Kanban board

Kanban Tool Enterprise plan users can create own rules, for when tasks should be automatically archived.

To create such automation for your board, go to board Settings - Process Automation and type in the conditions for when items should be archived.
Feel free to base it on the example below (click to view larger image): Automation Rules - Example H

For more examples of automation rules, please visit this page.

Don’t see an “archive” option in your Kanban card’s context menu? View this page to learn which board columns support archives.

Can I make my board larger?

Default board on large screen

If you’re using a wide-screen monitor, then a standard 3-column board will not completely fill your available screen space. Many users like that, as it leaves more room for a pretty background image, or because they tend to collapse most columns anyway, to easily focus on their current work only. Focused view

Keeping default board size small allows us to show large workflows in one page view - providing an at a glance overview of any project. If you’re using a large board, make sure to utilize swimlanes, for a clearer flow. Large board example

However, if you’d rather have the board take up more space on your screen, there consider the following options.

You can zoom in on the board, using your browser default zoom - it’s CTRL + in most modern browsers. Default board size - zoomed-in

Or, you may redesign the board so it takes up more space, by widening the columns - in a way, that more than one card will fit in each column horizontally. To do this, go to board Settings - Board Editor - pencil icon under a column - Lane Width. The number given in Lane Width determines how many cards will align one next to another in that column. Changed Lane Width setting