The Kanban Guide

What Is a Kanban Card?

A Kanban card is a visual representation of a work item. Translated from Japanese, it means a visual (kan) card (ban). It is a core element of the Kanban system as it represents work that has been requested or is already in progress.

A Kanban card contains valuable information about the task and its status, such as a summary of the assignment, responsible person, deadline, etc.

Indeed, Kanban cards’ actual application is to visualize your assignments’ progress from the moment they are requested to the moment they are considered done. During this process, the cards:

  • Serve as information hubs.
  • Reduce the need for actual meetings.
  • Improve transparency of the work process itself

 An essential aspect is that the number of Kanban cards in progress on the board should be limited. This way, you will avoid context switching and productivity issues.

The Nature of Digital Kanban Cards

Contemporary online Kanban software is loaded with many more features compared to the traditional physical boards. Now information across Kanban cards is way more accessible and provides a great advantage for both onsite and remote teams.

Digital cards have a front side and backside.

The front side gives you basic information about the task, such as description, title, assignee, cycle time, priority, and subtasks. This is the visible part of a card on a Kanban board, and it provides you with an opportunity for a quick overview of work items.

The card’s backside can be used for recording valuable metrics and information while it goes through the workflow. Here, your team can leave comments, attach files and external links, and check the card’s historical data. This side of a card is visible when the card is open.

Kanban Card Configurations

Different team members observe and digest information in different ways. Some prefer or need to see the whole data for a given task simultaneously, while others prefer to spot only the most pertinent information to their role.

In this sense, good Kanban software solutions offer personal card configuration options. This means every member of a given board can configure an individual card view that fits only his/her preferences.

For example, a simple Kanban card configuration that shows basic information for a task may be appropriate for daily team meetings. This way, all team members can quickly overview all current tasks without going into details.

On the other hand, every team member needs more information when working on an individual task. Therefore, a personal Kanban card configuration that reveals the maximum amount of information can simplify the work process, improve visibility, and encourage team collaboration.

Kanban cards may be configured in many different ways to show valuable information such as deadline, cycle time, attached files, subtasks, and much more. You need to find the Kanban card configuration that fits best your working habits.

Kanban Card Templates

A great advantage of online Kanban software solutions is that you can use them to create different Kanban card templates. This is extremely helpful when there are recurring tasks involved in the workflow.

You may consider it a standardization that helps work of the same type and scope to be finished faster and within similar prescriptions.

Kanban card templates help you avoid duplicating efforts and reduce the need for rework. Templates provide all team members with a clear understanding of what needs to be done and a familiar format for task completion – this is not, in any way, intended to subdue team-member creativity. Rather it allows the team to manage itself effectively and quickly recognize if assigned tasks might require special handling.

When using online Kanban solutions, the bottom line is you can create different templates that correspond to various types of work, each with its unique focus. For example, you can create a “customer bug” template, and every time there is a customer bug, you can load the relevant template while creating the card.

For example, you can create a “Feature” template, and whenever there is a feature to be developed, you can load the relevant template while creating the card.

This way, the assignee of the card will know the exact steps that need to be done, their sequence, and any other notes that might assist with this style of work.

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