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.

Kanban Tool swimlanes (rows)

You can use them in any way you see fit. 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 read article on how to edit Kanban board.