Kanban board – how to do

kanban board

How to make a quality kanban board that really meets the needs of the development team? We will take advantage of this article to see an approach to make this kanban board.

Make your kanban board

To make a real kanban board is not so easy ; indeed, the team will have to commit to make it well. We will see a technique to succeed to make a kanban board that meets the requirements of the team.

There are other techniques recommended by other Kanban experts that can also be of good quality.

Let’s start with a simple kanban board

For starters, we will materialize the simplest kanban that exists. Here is an example:

tableau kanban simple
simple kanban board

We have 3 columns: “todo”, “in progress” and “done”. We can not do much simpler.

Before going any further, the team will have to realize that the tasks that will go into “in progress” will be in work in progress (WIP). It may seem simple but I always explain that to the teams because it is a very important concept in kanban.

New columns on our kanban board

Now we have to determine the intermediate steps that the team thinks essential to notify in our board. They can also be related to an indispensable complementary requirement.

However, if the team adds a step, this must be considered mandatory for all applications that will cross the kanban board.

As a reminder, the teams determine these steps because each team may have different requirements.

For example, it is very common for a scrum team to want to add a “test” column to impose the obligation to test any task before going to “done”.

tableau kanban pour scrum
kanban board for scrum

The work in progress arrow is not to represent but I found it interesting to show you that the test is part of it; we consider that the test is the final phase of work in progress.

If you believe in a development team that any request must go into code review, you will be able to add this column.

The definition of xxx of the kanban board

I strongly advise to make lists of criteria which make it possible to validate the changeover from one column to another. In scrum, this method is known with the Definition of Ready and the Definition of Done; in Kanban, we make one definition of xxx between each step when it is necessary.

ArticleDefinition of Done (DOD)

The definition of each step that is represented by a list of criteria is done by whole the team. It is quite useful to represent these criteria on the kanban board so that nobody will forget the rules written by the team itself.


tableau kanban - dor - dod
kanban board – dor (definition of ready) – dod (definition of done) – docr (definition of code review)

The column limitations (limit WIP)

Now that our steps are well structured and have their definitions of requirements, the team will add an essential notion of kanban. It will add flow restrictions to ensure that some steps don’t become blocking.

For example, we will limit the number of applications under development to avoid to have too many request in development; indeed, it forces the development team to complete some requests before initiating others.

It is also interesting to limit the number of requests in tests to force the development team to be reactive about tests. With this concept, the developers avoid to work again on the old requests.

tableau kanban limit wip
kanban board with limit wip

Be careful, the WIP limits on the picture above are just some examples; each team will have to determine its own limit wip.

Tableau kanban : bugs et parking

In order to put the requests on hold, it is possible to add a parking line. The fact of making a line allows to know the origin of the request put into the parking line.

It can also be useful to have an “emergency” column to handle blocking bugs discovered in production that require immediate action.

tableau kanban - parking - urgence
kanban board – parking – emergency

On the kanban board, the team took the opportunity to put the limit wip on a complete area in order to make the code review requests before initiating other requests.

Add kanban graphs and kanban indicators

On a kanban board, it is also interesting to follow monitoring indicators such as cycle time and lead time. Here is how we could represented theses indicators on a kanban board:

lead time and cycle time
lead time and cycle time

The team can also set up differents useful kanban graphics like:

  • the average cycle time monitoring
  • the average lead time monitoring
  • the cumulative flow diagram

Conclusion kanban board

I hope that this article will have enlightened you to make a quality kanban board within your teams. Some teams also add the whole phase of maturation of requests within this board.

Do you also have tips to share with all visitors of this blog?

Useful link in frenchvidéo comprendre kanban

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About Judicaël Paquet 190 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My activities in France and Switzerland: - agile transformation architect - customized agile training - sensitization and manager coaching - agile maturity audits and situations - agile coaching (teams, orga, product owner, scrum master, agile coach) Specialties: scrum, kanban, management 3.0, scalability, lean startup, agile method.

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