What are Kanban Boards and How Can I Use Them?

Before you start on a development team, then you might wonder how they may organise their work. Well, there are a few options, but a common one is a Kanban board. And if you are wondering what a Kanban board is, this post will give you more information.

A Kanban board is a project management tool. User stories are written on tickets (these can be post-it notes on a whiteboard or a virtual board like Trello). The Kanban board, which has several columns and the user story tickets, are then placed in the relevant column as work progresses. The names and number of these columns can vary between teams, but here is one example:

Backlog: the Product Owner usually sets up tickets in this column. These tickets are ideas at this point that are based on business requirements. These tickets are then put forward to the team.

Once the Backlog is set up, the team will set up a meeting to go through these tickets. The Product Owner will have prioritised these tickets. The team will then discuss these tickets further, such as making sure there are tasks set up for each ticket and then sized up. If you want to find out how to size tickets, then check out my post from yesterday.

Kicked off: Once the team has gone through the Backlog tickets and sized each up, the facilitator will then move these tickets to this next column. Tickets in this column are available for developers to pick up and start working on.

Work in progress: Once a developer or multiple developers have started working on a ticket, the developer will put it into the Work in Progress column. There are several benefits to this; for example, anyone checking the board will know how much work the team is currently working on.

Done: Next stop is to finish the code, do the testing and then push the work to live. When all of the tasks on the card are completed, then the ticket is moved to done. Moving the Work In Progress ticket then frees up space in the Work In Progress column and demonstrates which work has been signed off.

And one thing to note is Kanban boards are not just for software developers, Jeff Sutherland mentions how it is used in classrooms – one of my Boot-camp teachers even set one up for her wedding.

Go ahead and see how it works for you.

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