Curious about Kanban?
Many have seen the word. Far fewer could tell you what it really means (or how to pronounce it… hint: “con-bon”). Something to do with manufacturing? A tool for software developers? A style of project management?
Try all of the above.
Kanban is one of the most effective tools available for managing project-based work.
Interested in Kanban but not sure where to begin? Let’s explore some real Kanban board examples and templates:
Kanban Board Examples & Project Management Templates
All the Kanban Board Templates below were built in minutes using the Card Table feature inside Basecamp. If you want to follow along, sign up for free right now in 30 seconds:
Kanban Project Management for Content Calendars
Whether it’s blog posts, social media updates, or YouTube videos, Kanban boards make excellent content calendars.
Here’s a look at the real Kanban template we use here at Basecamp to manage the content for our blog. Every article idea starts as a card inside the “Pending” row.
Inside each card, we’ll add details such as points we want to make, how long we want the article to be, examples of other articles we can use as resources, a space to link the draft when ready, due date, etc.
Once we commit to writing an article, it gets assigned to one of our writers and moved to the “On Deck” column, so the writer knows this is the next piece they should work on. Once they start, the writer moves the card over to the “Writing Draft” column, and when complete, moves it again to the “Sent for Edits” column. Once it reaches this column, our Content Marketing Manager gets notified to take a look at the article and provide any necessary feedback. After that, the card gets moved to the “Revisions” column and then finally, the “Done” column once it’s 100% complete.
The entire journey of each individual article is visible to our entire team, all at once, meaning there is never any question as to the status of any given project. Less time worrying, more time writing.
Kanban Project Management for Customer Service Teams
Customer Service is another excellent use case for Kanban boards. For example, say you run a small software company. A good portion of your customer emails are regarding payments, billing, user access, etc. But what about those pesky software bugs? You know, the ones that require a developer to fix?
With a well-designed Kanban board, your support team and your developer team can all work through the issues together. Customer Service Representatives start by filling out cards in the “Triage” section. Once a developer on your team has been assigned, they can move the card to “Figuring It Out”. After the issue has been identified, they can move the card to “In Progress” or, if they need additional information, “Waiting on Customers”. If the card gets moved to the latter, you can set up an automatic alert that lets the Customer Service Rep who filed the ticket know that they need to reach back out the customer for more information before the team can identify a fix.
Now everything you need to offer great customer service is all located in a single place.
Kanban Project Management for Sales
Tracking sales pipelines is another excellent use of a Kanban board.
To start, all leads can be added as cards to your “Backlog”. After assigning to a salesperson, the cards/leads can move to the “Prospect” column, and then to the “Needs Analysis” column once they begin their research. From there the card can move through all the sales stages, such as “Develop Proposal” and “Awaiting Response” once the proposal has been sent. After the lead is closed or lost, the card can then move to its final column to note whether it was won or lost.
With just a quick glance, Sales Teams can now see their entire pipeline.
Kanban Project Management for Teachers and Students
Know a teacher or a student looking to keep better track of lesson plans or homework assignments? Look no further than a simple Kanban board.
This student homework Kanban takes just a few minutes to set up, and can easily track the progress of assignments, due dates, and more. As an added bonus, parents can now avoid the dreaded “Is your homework done yet?” question every night at the dinner table. Simply take a quick look at the board and you’ll know exactly what your child is working on.
Kanban Project Management for Recruiting
Recruiting can be a messy business. With hundreds (or even thousands) of candidates to track and coordinate, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. That is, unless you set up a Kanban board for recruiting.
On this board, candidates for open roles are tracked through the entire hiring cycle, from “Screening” to “Offer” to “Accepted”. The best part about using a digital Kanban board app is that individual notes and notifications can be added directly to the candidate’s card, meaning the recruiter and the hiring manager no longer need to send long email threads back and forth discussing the role. Just drop your thoughts into the card (e.g. “Interview went great, let’s extend an offer!”) and everything stays neat and organized.
Kanban Project Management for Software Development
One of the original use cases outside of manufacturing, Kanban for software development has exploded in popularity over the past few decades. And for good reason. Kanban boards serve as the perfect place for development teams to coordinate projects, identify waste, and ship work that matters.
The complexity of a software development Kanban board will vary greatly based on the needs of the team, but like most things, it’s best to start simple. In the example below for an iOS development team, tasks get added as cards to the “Backlog” until they are assigned. Once assigned, the card moves to the “Ready” column, and when the work begins, it gets sent to the “Work in Progress (WIP): Coding” column. From there, it moves on to the “WIP: Testing” column and then finally the “Approved” column.
Fast. Simple. Clear. This board keeps software projects moving forward without any confusion or wasted effort.
Kanban Project Management for Project Management
Of course, all the Kanban examples above are really just projects in disguise. But what about when you have a bonafide project on your hands? You know, a specific objective with specific goals, tasks, and timelines that you need to get done…
Well, Kanban for project management is just about the cleanest way to get something done.
In the template below, we’re using a Kanban board to complete a trade show exhibition project. Trade shows have a ton of moving parts, but with a board we keep everything super organized and clear, meaning it gets with less effort and less time.