Product management glosary

Kanban Board

Product Management Glossary: Kanban Board

What is a Kanban Board?

A Kanban Board is a visual project management tool that helps teams manage their workflow and track progress. It is a key component of the Kanban methodology, which is a popular Agile project management framework. The Kanban Board is designed to help teams visualize their work, limit work in progress (WIP), and maximize efficiency.

Origins of the Kanban Board

The Kanban methodology was developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, in the 1940s. He was inspired by the just-in-time (JIT) production system used in supermarkets, where items are restocked only when they are sold. Ohno applied this concept to Toyota's manufacturing process, creating a system that focused on reducing waste and increasing efficiency. The Kanban Board was later adapted for use in software development and other industries.

Components of a Kanban Board

A Kanban Board consists of several key components:

  • Columns: The board is divided into columns, each representing a stage in the workflow. Common columns include "To Do," "In Progress," and "Done," but teams can customize their board to fit their specific process.
  • Cards: Each task or work item is represented by a card, which is placed in the appropriate column based on its status. Cards typically include a title, description, and any relevant details, such as assignees or due dates.
  • WIP Limits: Work in progress (WIP) limits are set for each column to prevent teams from taking on too much work at once. This helps maintain focus and ensures that tasks are completed before new ones are started.
  • Swimlanes: Optional horizontal rows called swimlanes can be added to the board to further organize tasks by category, priority, or team member.

Benefits of Using a Kanban Board

Implementing a Kanban Board offers several benefits for teams:

  • Increased visibility: The visual nature of the board allows team members to quickly see the status of tasks and identify bottlenecks or areas that need attention.
  • Improved collaboration: By making the workflow transparent, team members can better understand their roles and responsibilities, leading to more effective collaboration.
  • Greater efficiency: WIP limits help teams focus on completing tasks before starting new ones, reducing the time spent on context-switching and multitasking.
  • Continuous improvement: The Kanban Board makes it easy to identify areas for improvement, allowing teams to continuously refine their processes and increase efficiency.


A Kanban Board is a powerful tool for managing projects and improving team efficiency. By visualizing the workflow and limiting work in progress, teams can better collaborate, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately deliver better results.