Finally good cards - with Kanban.

Kanban - what is this? In this article you will learn how to use the simple method of production control for your project management.

What is Kanban?

Everybody knows the refrigerators at petrol stations: If you take a can of cola out of the drawer, the next cola slips after you. If the compartment is empty, an info panel appears and the filling station employee fetches new Coke from the warehouse. He refills the fridge and orders. Until the delivery arrives, the cola in the refrigerator is enough. A system that forms a cycle. And this system is Kanban.

Kanban = cards.

Kanban was initially a production control method invented in the 1950s by the Japanese Taiichi Ohno. The former engineer at Toyota was looking for a solution to shorten production while maintaining or improving quality and avoiding additional bottlenecks.

The simple result: cards. Or as he would say in Japanese: Kanban.

Classically, cards were attached to products that contained the most important information, such as which part it was, which phase it was in, and what was to be used next. This meant that only as much was produced as was needed.

Since 2007 Kanban is used in addition to production control but also in project management. David Anderson transferred the principles to team members by applying them to task coordination projects. With success. Today, Kanban is firmly established in project management.

How does Kanban work in project management?

At the start of a project, several tasks arise that have to be mastered. With Kanban these tasks are written down on maps and can be visualized and ordered on a board.

The basic structure of a Kanban board consists of three columns:

  1. To-Do: In the left column you enter new tasks that have not yet been processed.
  2. Work-In-Progress: If you edit one of the tasks, you move it to the middle column.
  3. Done: As soon as a task has been completed, it is moved to the right column again.

Depending on the project, different project levels can be created. So it is possible to adapt the Kanban board to your individual needs.


Example video production

This is what a Kanban board at a creative agency would look like:

A video is produced in 7 phases - idea, script, pre-production, production, post-production, sound design to the final video. These 7 phases are on the Kanban board thus 7 columns. Depending on which phase in the video production process was completed, the respective project card is moved to the next phase.


Whether this process is analog or digital is up to the user. In times of computers and the Internet, however, digital tools such as Trello, Kanbanize or Proad are on the increase. The analog way to design a Kanban board would be with the help of a whiteboard, on which the phases are drawn in columns, and stickers in different colors, which are assigned to the projects. The digital boards have also adopted this structure and displayed it differently depending on the tool. But before you start to work with the right tool, you have to follow a few rules to make the method work.

6 Rules of Kanban

When David Anderson changed the classical Kanban model for project management, he coined 6 principles that have to be observed for Kanban to work.

1. establish clear rules:

Every single phase on the Kanban board must be firmly defined. What is meant by each phase? When does a project count as done? And how do I identify the different projects?

2. task limit:

The number of cards on the board should be limited. So you work focused and don't start several tasks at once. The same applies to the different map stations - also here map limits should be set per phase.

3. Workflow:

For the Kanban board to work, the board must always be regularly updated and maintained. This ensures that a continuous workflow is created.

4. continuous improvement process (Kaizen):

Analyze your Kanban processes and optimize them at any time. Only in this way can you become even better and make your work more efficient.

5. self-organization:

All team members must be able to take responsibility independently. This includes not only a complete understanding of the project, but above all the project management method.

6. Models:

Applies different models and expands the kanban board. Adapt it to your needs, combine it with other methods and be productive.



Integrate daily status meetings into your project management!

Your team meets every day and discusses the Kanban board. Limits the meeting to 15 minutes. This way you are maximally effective and don't lose the overview.


Advantages and disadvantages of Kanban



  • understandable, due to very easy principle
  • only 6 rules
  • leads to higher process speed
  • errors and undesirable developments in processes will be noticed more quickly
  • transparent structure
  • coordination of the tasks to experts with corresponding competencies through the Hol principle
  • can be easily combined with other management methods
  • no individual role distribution


  • self-organisation: Team must be able to work independently
  • works only if you can draw clear boundaries in processes
  • complex projects cannot be mapped because details become too much (is only basic)


The advantages and disadvantages of Kanban generally depend on the individual use of the project management method. An advantage, which outweighs other arguments for the model, is that the method is very easy to link with other management systems. If, for example, you need a more detailed project management, you can connect Kanban with Scrum. Both methods are similar and have the same goal. However, Scrum is exclusively specialized in projects, has fixed roles of team members and has a more complex set of rules that organizes a project prescribed.


What is Scrum?

Scrum is a project management method that works according to a complex set of rules and divides a project into several stages. The method is in love with detail and coordinates a project according to fixed specifications. You can read more about this in our article on Scrum.

Kanban Tools: What do you have to pay attention to?

Every company has stickers and a wall. But if you want to adapt your processes to the digital transformation, you should also use digital tools. These are not only space-saving, but also work through the Internet everywhere, at any time. There is a wide choice of tools. We have compared three different variants:

1. Trello



The probably most popular Kanban tool never speaks of Kanban, but it is Kanban. Trello is minimalistic, easy and fast to understand. If you log in with your e-mail address, you can open different boards and move cards on them in different columns. In addition, you can give the cards individual tags or upload pictures. Other team members can also be invited by mail and participate. But more is not possible, because the tool has set itself the goal to show only the most necessary things.


  • minimalist
  • easy to understand
  • classical kanban principle
  • Drag-n- Drop function of the cards


- limited possibilities
- isolated solution


2. Kanbanize



In Kanbanize, the method is already in the name. The tool also specializes in KANBAN and offers even more functions than Trello. The design of the software is very classic and reminiscent of a computer program.

You can design your board extensively. Many details can be entered and members who have registered by e-mail can be collaborated. In addition to these functions, Kanbanize has a section for evaluating results. By analyzing the status you can always know how successful your recent and current projects are.


  • detailed cartography
  • analysis function


- complex to understand
- design of standard computer programs
- isolated solution


PROAD Software



With PROAD you focus more on project management than on the Kanban method. You work with a classic dashboard where tasks can be organized in maps. Information like responsible team members, status, project, deadline and budget are clearly stored. Once you've finished a task, you can easily adjust the status on the dashboard with a click of the mouse.

This tool has the advantage that you can access all your data in addition to individual project management. Thus, customer data, project information, budget management and even accounting are anchored in the software. And you can organize your projects from the quotation to the final invoicing with one solution.


  • various template cards: tasks, dates, times, etc.
  • detailed map design
  • individual dashboard design
  • no isolated solution: customer/project data, payment data and appointments are stored
  • analysis function
  • classic & modern design


- comprehensive tool
- Team members cannot be invited by e-mail, but need an account.


Try it out now, simply and without obligation!

Proad combines different management methods and is familiar with changing business processes, task management and continuous optimization measures. We are constantly developing our tool further and work not only on functions, but also on design. With our new Dashboard BrainHub we combine the competences analysis and creativity for the first time and offer you a unique function on the large market of management methods.