Work from the Kanban board

With the Kanban board you can add items to your pipeline of deliverables and visualize the progress of these items as they move from new to done. You can also track bottlenecks and implement a pull system for handoffs.

In the following examples, the Kanban board has been customized: work-in-progress (WIP) limits have been set to 10, a Test column has been added, and split columns have been implemented for the Approved, Committed, In Progress, and Test swim lanes.

Customized Kanban board with added and split columns

To customize the board to your team's workflow, go here.

Add items, update status, and assign work

  1. Open the Kanban board from the Backlogs page. You can create backlog items from this board or from the backlog page.

    Open the Kanban board for the product backlog

    Your first 20 items appear in backlog priority order, so if you don't see a backlog item, it probably isn't in your top 20. To change the maximum number, have your team admin Set max work items.

  2. Move an item into the next column to change its state.

    The column color changes to indicate that the item will be moved to that column

  3. Assign an item to someone. You can also set an estimate.

    Assign an item and add an estimate

Adjust Max work items and WIP limits to support your team's workflow

The Max work items that you set on the first and last columns restrict the number of items that will appear in those columns. The first column lists items in their stack ranked order. The last column displays those items that your team has most recently completed, again in their stack ranked order.

As items move from one column to another, the total count of items is registered next to the WIP limit set for that column. You can readily see when a column has more items in it than its WIP limit allows.

WIP indicator turns red when the team goes over the agreed upon limit

By setting the WIP to match your team's capacity, you help focus the team on ensuring a steady stream of continuous handoffs and eliminate bottlenecks. Determining the optimum WIP for each swim lane is an iterative process.

View progress with the Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD)

The CFD provides a count of backlog items in different states over time. From the CFD, you can identify how work flows through the system and detect problems with the work flow.

  1. Expand the chart to view progress.

    Open the CFD chart

    The cumulative flow diagram (CFD) shows the count of all items in each swim lane configured for the Kanban board.

    Example CFD after 7 weeks of work

    (This example shows additional swim lanes than the previous examples.)

  2. The CFD can show up to 30 weeks of data. To adjust the time frame, open the Edit Chart dialog and choose the start date.

    Change the start date for the CFD

Q & A

Q: Why are the column headings different?

A: These column headings are based on a team project that uses the Scrum process template. If your team project was created with a different process template, the headings could be different. Also, someone else on your team might have changed the column titles.

Q: Can I use the Kanban board with Features?

A: Yes. The Features Kanban board works just like the Kanban board for backlog items.

Q: Are there computed metrics for lead times and cycle times?

A: Not at this time. However, you can compute your own metrics as described in Cumulative Flow Diagrams.

Q: Where can I learn more about implementing Kanban?

A: See these posts: What is Kanban?, Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards, and Why Limiting Your Work-in-Progress Matters.

Another great resource is Kanban and Scrum - making the most of both.

Try this next

  • Work in sprints when you want to breakdown backlog items into task and schedule your work for defined work periods.
  • Visualize progress by charting query status or trends.