Kanban boards are a great way to visualize the workflow and track progress. They usually consist of three main panels: to do, doing, and done. There are many cards, denoting tasks, which are constantly moved from one panel to another. The goal of the Kanban board is to limit work in progress and maximize efficiency. The team members usually do only one task at a time, are not overburdened, and more productive. It is also very easy to notice if there is a problem with some task.
Kanban boards began as physical boards. They were first used in the Toyota factory. Taiichi Ono began using Kanban this way after seeing that stores in the US refill the shelves only when they are becoming empty, according to the demand. The cards were used in the factory to track demand and prevent waste, such as waiting time, overproduction, unnecessary motions, etc.
While physical boards are still used pretty often, using an online Kanban board is becoming increasingly popular. An online board can prevent even more waste than physical boards. In this article, we will overview the advantages of online Kanban.
How is a Kanban board better online?
An online board can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This is really good for team members that are not based in the same city and do not work in the same office, which is becoming very common nowadays. You can also involve freelancers and remote workers this way.
Historical data and analysis.
Physical boards can only show the present. Once a card moves from the board, it is hard to remember how long the task took to do it, a person’s cycle time, etc. If you want to save such data, you have to write it down yourself. On the other hand, online boards can help analyze the workflow much better. You can easily measure cycle times. This does not only give more predictability but also allows to see which points might need to be improved.
More information in one place.
Online Kanban boards allow you to save all the information in one place. You can also store more information compared to the physical board. Post-it notes that are attached to physical boards are very limited. Kanban boards online allow you not only to add tasks: you can also add sub-tasks, mark people, deadlines, add comments, attach files, etc. And it will not look messy: everything will be easy to find just when you need it.
When you update or change something in the online Kanban board, the board will notify everyone concerned. You do not have to inform them yourself, which you’d have to do with the physical board. It is also very easy to expand on the tasks, which might be more difficult and messier with the usual board.
Physical boards can be harder to manage as cards can fall off or get lost. This would never happen with an online board. The information is safe. You can also ensure more security by limiting the access of the people based on their roles, protecting confidential information this way.
How to go online with a Kanban board?
You might have already decided that you want to switch to a Kanban board online and are thinking about how to do it. Even if you have been using a physical Kanban board, it is not hard to switch to a digital board. You and your team must know why you are making the switch. Then, find the right online Kanban board for you. Plan who will be responsible for moving the tasks, will there be a need for training, etc. Make the digital board as similar as possible to your physical board: it will be easier to switch this way.