The Kanban board is one of the agile methods for visual management. Widely used in the IT industries, it can be adapted to all types of projects, whether personal or professional, individual or collaborative. You can create a kanban board to divide up household chores among your family members or roommates, to create a business, organise an event, launch a new product or even all these things at once!
Extremely simple to set up, scalable, collaborative… The advantages of the Kanban board are numerous. At Foglietto, we have long since adopted it, both for our day-to-day management and for our long-term goals.
The following article aims to give you a non-exhaustive picture of all the possibilities offered by the Kanban board. It is then up to you to adapt them according to what you feel is most relevant to your project. Steps 1 and 2 are used to create a basic Kanban board. The next steps are optional, depending on how you are planning to use your Kanban. At each step, we give you our little tips on how to best use it with Foglietto. Andiamo!
Step 1 - List all the actions that have to be done
This first step couldn’t be simpler! Take your deck of Foglietto memo cards and write down an action to be carried out on each card. You can go into different levels of detail, but in order not to find yourself buried and submerged in memo cards, we advise you to write down one main action per card, which you will then detail on the same card. Ideally, each sheet should represent a maximum of one working day.
Let’s say, for example, you need to write an article for your blog or your company’s blog. Write “Publish an article” on a memo card and then, on the same card, detail all the sub-actions needed to carry out this task: defining the subject, doing the research, writing the text, creating the visuals, formatting, etc. This will allow you to have an even better vision of your tasks.
Finally, be as exhaustive as possible. This will allow you to have a better understanding of your workload and to distribute it as well as possible in the following steps.
You can use a colour code by choosing for each Foglietto colour or for each masking tape colour (see next step): a priority level, an aspect of your project, a particular project (if you use a single kanban board to manage several at the same time) or a person (if you use your kanban wall in a collaborative way).
Step 2 - Building the structure of your Kanban board
The first step appealed to your capacity of anticipation and projection. This second step invites you to use your imagination and analytical skills.
You will need to define, from the actions listed in step 1, the structure best suited to your project and your situation. Here different options are available to you. A Kanban board generally combines a chronological progression (columns) with a distribution of tasks by teams, projects or activities (rows), but its great advantage is the flexibility of this model. You indeed can adapt it to your needs and make it evolve as your project progresses.
If you are new to Kanban, we recommend you to start your board with a basic structure:
- Column 1: “pending” tasks (also called “backlog”),
- Column 2: tasks that need to be done in the immediate future (e.g. today or by the end of the week),
- Column 3: ongoing tasks,
- Column 4: done tasks.
Then, to adapt it to your needs as you go along:
- Add a “difficulties” or “problem” or “obstacle” column, for all the actions on which you find yourself stuck, whether for an external reason (a client who does not send you the files on time) or internal (such as lack of inspiration).
- Add an “ideas to explore” column.
- If your project itself follows a methodology with a clearly defined chronology, as is often the case in the IT industry, you can adapt the headings of your columns to it. The columns will then become, in order: analysis, development, testing, deployment and maintenance.
- Use the columns to plan your project over several weeks, months or even years: in this case, you can even create “pending”, “to do”, “ongoing”, “done” sub-columns within each week/month or year column.
- Create rows in order to divide the tasks between several teams,
- Or create rows to separate the different aspects of your project: design, administration, communication, etc. This will enable you to identify the most demanding aspects of your business at a glance.
The possibilities are vast and this list is far from exhaustive. The best thing for you to do is to test different configurations in order to choose the one that suits you best.
Once you have chosen your structure, trace it on a wall using masking tape. Don’t forget that you can write on the masking tape, so you can also use it to name your columns and rows.
You will quickly notice that some tasks are recurrent. Let’s go back to our example from step 1. Our “Publish an article” memo cards is likely to come back every week or every month depending on the frequency of publication that you have set yourself. Once you’ve done it, don’t throw it away! But put it back in the “pending” column. At this point, we also advise you to define with a ballpoint pen the unavoidable sub-actions, as mentioned above, and, with a pencil, to tick the boxes if necessary or to add specific sub-actions to the item “to be done” or “in progress”, such as for example “Contact Ms M. for the interview”. Here, Foglietto has a considerable advantage over its self-adhesive cousin.
Step 3 - Setting some rules
Until now, we have make projections, we have dreamed, imagined… But it is now time to get back to the reality and to be cautious. Some simple tips can help you make your kanban board a particularly effective planning and management tool.
You are probably in a quiet period at the moment, which gives you the necessary time for organisation and projection, or at least you have decided to allow yourself that time. Take advantage of today’s perspective on your business to set clear limits that will help you stay the course during more tense times. Among these, you can, for example, define:
- A due date for each task,
- A maximum flow of tasks in each column or box, which will allow you to better distribute the work over time and/or within your teams,
- A level of priority for each task,
- In the case of team work, one referee for each task,
These clearly named and visible rules encourage collaborative use by avoiding overloading certain teams or bottlenecks in certain activities. You can indicate them on the masking tape that is used to hold each of your memo cards on the wall or on the card itself, using a pen of a different colour so that these rules are clearly visible.
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Step 4 - Boost your Kanban board with a colour code
At this stage, your Kanban board is already a great and fully functional planning tool. But you can go even further by adding new features, such as colour coding.
You can turn your Kanban board into a place of resources for you and your team. Attach “information”, “pitfalls to avoid” or “food for thought” memo cards to some of your “task” cards as ideas come to you. You can slide them under the “actions/tasks” memo cards concerned or file them in a separate row or column, so as not to overload your kanban board too much. In this case, do not hesitate to use the numbering function of your memo cards by assigning a number to each “action” card, which you will transfer to the corresponding “resource” card.
Have you already used a colour code on your cards for another function? Don’t panic! Use your basic colour code for your “resource” memo cards and distinguish them from your “action” cards by simply using a different masking tape colour or, as mentioned above, by placing them in a new row or column dedicated to them.
Step 5 - Working daily with your Kanban board and Foglietto
Here you are! Your Kanban board is finally ready! But don’t think the story ends here. On the contrary, it has only just begun. In order for your Kanban board to keep all its interest, it will now be necessary to make it live on the same tempo as your project.
Our advice? Take a few minutes each morning to look at your wall and define what your actions for the day will be. Write them down on a “to-do” memo card that you will keep with you throughout the day. If your board is not in the same place as your workplace (this is the case for us: our shared office doesn’t allow us to spread out so much!), don’t hesitate to take down the memo cards relating to your day, whether they be “resource” or “action” cards, and take them with you, for example thanks to your Busta folder.
If you have the opportunity, also take a few minutes in the evening to update your Kanban board according to your achievements of the day. It’s rewarding, and it allows you to start the next day with a clear vision of where you stand!
The Archivio storage box may also be useful to you on a day-to-day basis: some of the completed memo cards may be useful again, either to keep a record of your work or simply because these actions are recurrent. To avoid overloading your Kanban board by keeping these cards displayed in a corner, store them in your Scatola box. Use the dividers to sort them. If you don’t have a large space on which to build your board, it is even possible to transpose some columns directly into your box, this is for example particularly useful for the “pending” or “done” columns.
To sum up, the 5 steps to make a Kanban board with Foglietto are:
- Define all the tasks that need to be done,
- Build the structure of your Kanban,
- Set some rules,
- Boost your Kanban thanks to a colour code,
- Work daily with your Kanban board and Foglietto.
You now hold all the cards… It’s up to you! Send us pictures of your Kanban boards by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly on our Instagram page!
Soon: Foglietto professional offer
Foglietto is the first brand of office supplies dedicated to visual management. It is a complete agile solution for managing your various projects on a daily basis. The unlimited flexibility of an analogue solution such as Foglietto allows it to be easily adapted to all sizes and types of companies, from freelancers to start-ups to large groups, while its great modularity gives it a natural affinity with the innovation, R&D and IT development sectors.