Kanban Tool for a Centralized IT Division
of a Research University

Customer story


Industry: Education & Research

Use case: IT Division's process management

Organization: North Dakota State University

Favorite feature: tags, card types, due dates

North Dakota State University is distinctive as a student-focused, land-grant, research university. Jason Blosser, Assistant Vice President at NDSU's Information Technology Services, was kind enough to share his team's experience of using Kanban Tool boards.

Please, tell us what your work is about.

We are the centralized IT division for a large research university in the northern plains of the US.

What kind of processes do you manage using Kanban Tool?

We track a portfolio of all of the major division projects in one board, have some boards for individuals projects, and manage a number of workgroup and individuals’ activities through boards as well.

Could you describe your workflow?

There are a variety of them, but our division-wide board for major projects uses the following:

  • Future Considerations
  • Backlog
  • Preliminary Planning
  • Ready for Commitment
  • Committed - this could be one of five time periods depending on our next set of project windows
  • Work in Progress
  • Awaiting (On-Hold)
  • Done: Completed, OR
  • Done: Withdrawn

What does your board and card template look like?

The board follows the workflow described above. Our card types reflect the type of work represented by the project:

  • Department / External Request
  • Internal Continuous Improvement
  • Internal Upgrade, Compliance, etc.
  • Unplanned – Security Incident
  • Unplanned – Problem
  • Unplanned – General
  • Work that has yet to be determined

What adjustments did you make in order to improve your workflow?

We spent a lot of time thinking about the process between Preliminary Planning and Committed. Preliminary Planning allows background activity to take place without moving into Work in Progress.

Having columns represent individual Committed timeframe (e.g. Fall 2018, Winter Break 2018/19, Summer 2019, etc.) helps manage reasonable expectations and plan resources without having a huge process to maintain. Every other week the division spends a half an hour reviewing all the projects to make sure they are in the right step of the workflow and adjust accordingly.

What features or integrations do you value most in Kanban Tool and why?

  • Tags – allow us to see which teams are involved with each project by searching. An individual workgroup can see all the projects within the division board they are leading or participating in, senior administration can see projects under their areas, and everyone can have a global perspective.
  • Card types – give a sense of how healthy our project mix is. The more Requests task type we have, the better compared to the number of projects associated with unplanned work.
  • Due dates – enable us to plan centrally.

What are the most important benefits of using Kanban Tool for you?

  • Visibility – all individuals within the division have a sense of what work is taking place, priorities, etc.
  • Easy to use interface with low learning curve – allows us to focus on the process rather than training on the tool.