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How to Use Kanban for Project Management

How to Use Kanban for Project Management

A third of organizations never complete a project on time, on budget, or with the full benefits they’d planned, according to a Forbes article. The primary catalyst for failure in project management has been poor organization. Kanban is a methodology designed to let projects flourish. It was developed in the 1940s by Japanese Toyota, with the sole intention of better work and inventory management.

Today, Kanban is used to manage projects in almost all sectors. The Kanban system harnesses the power of visual information. This visualization feature, whether on a physical or online board, is the centerpiece of Kanban. It enables every team member to view and understand workflow as it moves through the various stages. Kanban’s effectiveness in organizing and managing work processes makes it ideal for any team and goal.

The Makeup of a Kanban Board

For successful Kanban project management, you need to understand the Kanban board. The board is the foundation in which your Kanban process lies. It’s highly flexible, and it can be adopted for any type of project. The Kanban board contains the board, which is a visual layout. Lanes, which are columns containing to-do-list items within specific stages of the project on the board. Then the card, which is an item of a task that lies in the lane on the board.

Planning With Kanban

Every project has a plan, and Kanban offers a planning solution to project managers. Using a Kanban project board, you can smoothly put a plan into action. First, fill the board with all the tasks that need to be done and include the deadline. By placing a work item on the lane, you’ll be able to plan better and schedule yourself on how to get it to the next column before the deadline. It is also flexible, allowing you to include any new plans within the project.


All projects have many tasks that need to be done. This complexity can cause chaos and uncertainty. In Kanban, tasks are ordered by importance. This feature allows a team to prioritize and focus on certain work items. With Kanban, you can limit the amount of work by having fewer cards in a column. You can also utilize swim lanes of high, medium, and low priority work. This ensures a team is handling only a particular task based on importance.

Tracking and Forecasting

There are a variety of tools in Kanban that you can utilize to track, forecast, and get clear indicators of trends. The Cumulative Flow Diagram is one tool that gives an overview of critical work metrics such as cycle time and works in progress, enabling you to manage and distribute work better. WIP Aging is a chart that highlights whether the tasks in progress are going according to plan. It reveals what tasks are delaying and precisely what phase of the workflow they are in.

Resource Allocation

With a Kanban board, it becomes easier to assign work and allocate resources. By viewing the board, you can spot and track who is working on what project, and the progress. Start by forming teams, assigning tasks to individuals, and work with the team on the Kanban board. The visual on the board will help you make better decisions in assigning work and equipping the team with the necessary resources. This way, the project won’t delay, and there won’t be an overburdened team.


Introducing new methodologies in an organization is mostly riddled with hurdles. When it comes to Kanban, the process is painless and seamless. Instead of disrupting how your organization works, it fits into what you do, and incrementally improves upon it. It’s an effective tool for project management, as it adapts to any environment and evolves with you.

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by Rebecca Jones // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.