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What Makes LeanKit Kanban Board Better Than Rest


Written by  Sudheer Raju | 18 September 2011
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The biggest challenge gaining acceptance of the tools implementing Kanban, Agile or Scrum is acceptance of the tool itself by all communities with in the enterprise. While Kanban is not just gaining wider accetpance at an enterprise level to deliver software but also being embraced by management at the top including CEO's as a way to track and achieve their targets with control. With such context LeanKit has managed to design a Kanban board which differentiatingly is the best up there, a step ahead of the rest. Would like to briefly share what i have seen in Kanban Board within LeanKit and the intellect with which it has been designed. 

Kanban Board Creation

  • One Click Board Creation
  • Decide in that One Click Screen if you wish to Create new or Copy existing board and other options
  • Not just copying the board, it allows to copy users as well from the base along with key kanban board options
  • Clone any board of your choice
  • [Very Useful] Create a layout from existing templates as per business areas or types. This single feature of templates of boards across "General", "IT Development", "IT Operations", "Business Strategy" and "Personal Kanban" and add cloning on top of it makes it very powerful in terms of Valued Add to beginners and experienced teams alike. 
LeanKit Kanban

Kanban Board Layout

  • Customize the layout and save it for future use
  • Hardly took 5 minutes to create a board, backlog and assign them to team members
  • Navigation is very logical and drives the user to the next steps if a person is new. In effect very intutive UI. 
  • One screen to navigate to anything you want to do in Kanban with Kanban board on the right and operations menus on the left, if i have to describe, navigation is as in an open book format (not sure if my imagination is understood. If you didnt, try and see for yourself here :))
  • At any time add/modify board layout, Kanban lanes, board properites, WIP Limits and everything that you can think off without moving away from the single screen which is so handy and definitely felt the joy of working without navigating from the context
  • Talk about Board parameters, good thought has been given to user experience, even being able to size the width of each lane as per end users likes and ability to split lanes vertically and horizantally as you like along with cloning. Must say being a project manager, loved the layout and its flexiblity. Surely my favourite.
  • All the standard features of card design including colour coded cards based on type of request, User Avatar association on the card, visual criticality indicator, completion date and like are all part of the design. 
LeanKit Kanban


Design With Pragmatism Over Process/Practice

Many tools have been designed with level of flexibility without a doubt but mostly fall short of taking an educated call at that last level of complexity on whether pragmatism wins or practice/process. Validations provided on the board are pure "Common Sense" than "Process or Practice Restrictive" and am sure this will go very well with principle of lean and will enable less frustrations to likes of teams against using the tools.

To quote few of the examples

  • The product allows to move ahead and overwrite WIP limit but with enforcement of a valid reason to do so. Once it allows this overwrite, the kanban board also celarly colour codes the relevant lane until WIP limit is reached. 
  • An Expedite Workflow option when ever and where ever required making a good sense of taking into account the dynamic nature of changes that are thrown at teams day in and day out. 
  • With all the advanced navigation just when i thought the standard ones may have missed, to my joy the right click and the double click to edit a card works perfectly :)
LeanKit Kanban
LeanKit Kanban

Board Security and Export


Board Security Roles: 

  • No Access - may not view or perform any operations associated with the Board.
  • Reader - may view information on the Board but not update or modify any of the information, and may not create, edit, or move cards. Readers are able to subscribe to Board or Lane events.
  • User - may view the Board, create, edit, and move cards, but they may not perform management or administrative operations on the Board, such as changing the board layout or WIP limits.
  • Manager - in addition to the rights of a board "User", managers may perform management operations such as changing the Board layout or WIP Limits.
  • Administrator - have permissions to perform all activities associated to the Board. This includes Board configuration editing, user administration for the Board, as well as typical user activities.

Board Export:
Export Board History to CSV File and get metrics in any which way you want on users, cards, status changes, card movements and many others that you can think off.

Board Level API's
While LeanKit as a Kanban tool exposes many API's, if i have to restrict myself to one element which is the "Kanban Board", some very interesting API's, to name a few GetBoards, GetBoardIdentifiers which are pretty useful to integrate with other systems should teams be interested in.

API GetBoards:
This method gets a listing of all the Boards that the API user has access to. If the API user is an organization administrator, this will be all boards in the organization. Otherwise, it will be a list of all boards that the API user has at least Reader access to. 

API GetBoardIdentifiers:
This method gets you the list of lanes and their Ids, card types, or users of the board

Help On Hand AnyTime

The product functionality is self explanatory to understand and is well supported by not just an online help as you see below in the screen shot with a clear explanation of the Board functions but also provides a online support feature to report any request, bugs or observations and others on the product.

LeanKit Kanban

Observations

  • Navigation at times pushes board away from context although when trying to perform operations on the primary board view. This probably would be a bug fix than a product drawback if at all and may also depend on browser support to what i was using. Was using Chrome for the review purposes.
  • More of my question than an observation. Should kanban board in general be designed to ensure critical/high priority requests are allowed to be moved first to next lane than the low priority ones, with a valid reason asked if done otherwise? What do you think?

Overall i am impressed with the way LeanKit Kanban has been designed and that only increases my curiosity to further explore the product and write the next review on the product soon. One of the standing question i had to myself on why VersionOne has chosen to partner with LeanKit to provide better Kanban Board capabilities is also finally answered with this attempt. 

Sudheer Raju

Sudheer Raju

Founder of ToolsJournal, a technology journal on software tools and services. Sudheer has overall accountability for the webiste product development and is responsible for Sales and Marketing. With a flair to write, Sudheer himself writes for toolsjournal across all journal categories.


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