How do I manage workflows with Kanban

Optimize your workflow with Kanban - "Stop starting, start finishing!"

Kanban ... You've probably heard of that before. But what exactly is Kanban?

It all began in 1947 with the smart idea of ​​a Japanese car manufacturer:

In order to achieve shorter lead times and avoid bottlenecks, an engineer from Toyota developed the Kanban system. He was inspired by the supply plan in the supermarket: reorders are only placed when a product supply runs out.

The same principle can also be applied to work in projects: a new task is only started when the previous one has been completed. This prevents too many tasks from being started in parallel and not being completed reliably.

The word Kanban is Japanese for card, so this method consists of a card system. The principle was related to software development by David Anderson in 2007, from which today's Kanban method has developed.

How does Kanban work?

Kanban is an agile method for work organization. It is flexibly adaptable, creates clarity and helps you to improve your workflow.

The Kanban board is the central component of this method. You can display a board in the classic way as a pin board or display it in suitable project management software such as awork. The latter has the great advantage that your mobile board is available to everyone at any time and from anywhere.

Each Kanban board contains colored task cards for different subject areas, as well as three process columns that show the processing status of the respective task.

On the far left you will find the backlog, i.e. the place where all pending to-dos are collected. In the middle are the tasks that are currently being processed - including WIP (“Work in Progress”) called. All completed tasks are shown on the far right.

Depending on the project, any number of additional intermediate steps can be planned, for example a review column to review your tasks or to discuss them with your team. Tasks can also optionally be prioritized in the individual columns in order to obtain a precise understanding of the current tasks thanks to the ranking.

Confusing lists with mixed up tasks are spared you with a Kanban board, instead you can keep a very clear overview of all tasks. Because all to-dos are processed in small steps and gradually moved to the columns of the Kanban board when the task status changes.

How do you start with the Kanban method? These four change management principles can help you with that.

Start with what you are doing right now.

Start right where you are. To use a Kanban board, it is important to start with current processes and to map them realistically in the system. Gradually, this process can be changed.

Agree that evolutionary change be pursued.

The goal is to continuously develop and to achieve improvements in small steps using the Kanban method.

Respect existing processes.

The Kanban concept is very straightforward and easy to implement. This means that all existing roles, processes and responsibilities remain unchanged.

Encourage leadership at every level of the organization.

To achieve long-term improvement, everyone on your team should get involved. Encourage all levels of the company to develop specific suggestions and actively communicate them so that your team can work out common plans.

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Core Practices of the Kanban Method

Now that you've learned the basics, let's introduce you to the six core practices. So you can work even more efficiently with your team!

  1. Layout: The Kanban board is used to visualize your tasks. For this it is important that the columns for the processing status are clearly defined. Otherwise you can freely design your board, for example add suitable photos and graphics to your tasks in awork.
  2. Limitation: So that your team can establish a perfect workflow, you should limit the tasks in the individual columns. This means that each column can contain a maximum number of cards.
  3. Control:In order to improve work processes, you and your team should keep an eye on important parameters such as throughput times and queues. In this way, you can quickly see where there is still room for improvement and, based on this, you can optimize individual parameters in a targeted manner.
  4. Regulation: The limited tasks and defined columns are part of the regulation and help you and your team to make all work processes more efficient thanks to clear structures. These rules should be visible to all members on the Kanban board at all times.
  5. Cadenzas:These are meetings in which you can give each other individual feedback as a team. Cadenzas should take place regularly so that everyone can work on their skills and improve them.
  6. Kaizen: This word comes from Japanese and is formed from the syllables Quay (Change) and Zen (for the better). The kaizen theory has the background that you go through a continuous process of improvement and constantly work on optimizing a company step by step.

Kanban vs. Scrum

Some similarities can be found between Kanban and the agile development method Scrum. Both are used in self-organized teams and rely on transparency as well as a constant change in the original setting through the evaluation of relevant parameters. A division of individual tasks into smaller units can also be found in both methods in order to facilitate the workflow.

But what exactly does Kanban differentiate from Scrum?

  • Kanban gives you more freedom: iterations, prioritizations, cross-functional teams and other techniques are optional - these applications are prescribed in Scrum.
  • The throughput times are used as an indicator for planning and process improvement on Kanban boards, while team speeds are used in Scrum is.
  • If the required capacities are free, you can work on new requirements with your team and the Kanban method - with Scrum this is not possible during an ongoing sprint.
  • In Kanban no roles are defined in advance, in Scrum, however, there are three defined roles at the beginning of a project.
  • Several teams or even individuals can share Kanban boards and continuously develop them, the sprint backlogs in Scrum only belong to one team and are deleted after each sprint.

Use Kanban in awork

Do you really want to get started with the Kanban method? Then awork is the perfect companion for you and your team. The Kanban board in awork contains a single column for each task status, with the plus button you can quickly add additional columns. That means you can adjust all columns and add as many more as you like - so you can optimally adapt the board to the process of your team. For example, if you are part of a marketing team, you could create an additional process column for your research.

All tasks can be easily moved in awork, you can simply move them to the next process column using drag-and-drop. You can also rearrange columns as you wish in this way. With a click on the icons you can adjust the processor or deadlines of tasks and view further details by clicking on the task name.

In addition, you can group tasks according to lists and users and switch to the presentation mode of the agile Kanban board.

Awork helps you to always keep an overview, to manage your projects and even to increase the productivity of your team in the long term!


With Kanban software, workflows can be organized very easily by organizing tasks on the Kanban board according to their task status.

This approach is not only helpful to finally put an end to your constant confusion of tasks, it also improves the workflow in the team!

Do you want to know more?

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