Kanban boards are a method of organising the workflow of a small team or solo worker that’s popular in start-up culture right now.
The original idea is a simple bulletin board with three vertical columns: to do, doing and done. Index cards with jobs written on them can then be pinned under the appropriate column and moved depending on what’s been accomplished, and everyone can see at a glance where the project is at and whether any tasks are failing to move across the board.
Colour-coding the cards or attaching tabs to them – perhaps giving each team member a different colour – makes the process even clearer.
Inevitably, a host of cloud-based platforms and apps have sprung up to offer digital equivalents: Trello is probably the best known of these, but Kanbanchi works particularly well for those who are used to working with Google Drive. You can integrate the web-based platform with your Google account when you first sign up, then access your board straight from your Google Drive dashboard, even if you’re only using the free version of the app. You can also “push” tasks to your Google Calendar, if that’s where you organise your schedule.
Once you’ve signed up, you can create multiple dashboards (for example, home renovations, work, creative projects), start renaming the columns and creating tagged cards to pin to your virtual board. These cards can have notes attached to them, they can be assigned to a specific person and they can be given a priority rating, a start and finish date, tags, attachments, and a check-list of sub-tasks that can be crossed off, one by one.
Kanbanchi is easy to get a handle on, it works well, and it helped me visualise my workflow better – but it doesn’t match up to Trello, which has a friendlier, prettier interface, a mobile app version and better extras for those who upgrade.
While it costs US$22.50 monthly to get the full suite of Kanbanchi’s premium features, like a time tracker and a feature that allows you to reconfigure your tasks into a timeline, Trello’s “business class” package is only $10 and allows you to integrate with apps like Evernote, Mailchimp, Salesforce and Slack – and, yes, Google Drive.
Who’s behind Kanbanchi?
It was founded in 2013 by UK-based developer and digital marketing agency boss Vladimir Yakimenko.
Is it easy to get to grips with?
The interface is fairly intuitive, but there are no videos or hand-holding guides to take you through the process.
Are there different ways of setting up your dashboard?
Yes, one of the great things about Kanban boards is that you can set them up to best suit your workflow. One very useful set-up is to divide your tasks into columns depending on how long they take to complete, from 10 minutes to over an hour, with the most urgent tasks at the top of each column. Start each day by tackling the big jobs, and use the little ones to fill in small blocks of time between scheduled appointments.
Can you pick and choose premium features?
Yes, it’s $11.50 a month for just the time tracker or the chronological summary (known as a Gantt chart) and $5 per month if you’d just like to add your company logo to your dashboard.
Where do I find it?
Kanbanchi is only accessible on the web, at kanban-chi.appspot.com (that URL is an example of the platform’s slapdash UX design), or via Google Drive. There’s no mobile app at this time.
Is it actually better than a pinboard and index cards?
For teams, definitely. For individuals using the free version it’s more of a toss-up, unless you work from multiple locations, in which case digital wins out.
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