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Kanban Board

Vishwadeep Khatri

Kanban Board


Kanban Board is one of the most common tools to implement the Kanban (signal) system. It is a display board that shows the various stages of the process and tracks the progress of the work from one stage to another.


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Natwar Lal  and Manish Prasad.


Applause for the respondents- Natwar Lal, Manish Prasad, Shubhra Vashishtha & Praveen Kumar K


Q. 194 Kanban Board was initiated as a Physical Board for teams who have a standing meeting every day to allocate tasks, report progress and take decisions. It has evolved in different ways in different domains. Provide examples for different kinds of Kanban Boards. 


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.


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Kanabn Board is a tool that is used to depict the position of work in the process. As the question mentions itself, Kanban boards were primarily done for work allocation, monitoring the progress, decision making and reporting (at the end of the day). The most common usage of these boards were found in the daily huddles / daily team meetings / stand up meeting (what ever you might want to call it). It is mostly done on a white board where columns are created to track progress. These days there are multiple online versions of Kanban boards (but the joy of doing it is using post it notes or a marker pen on a white board - the good old way). 


The selection of manual or a systemic Kanban board is of lesser significance. What is more important is to track the progress. The simplest of Kanban board looks like



Source: Google Images (smartsheet.com)


Source: Google Images


The best feature about the Kanban board is how it has evolved across various industries and domains and how it is being utilized these days. The underlying feature of allocating work, tracking progress and decision making remain the same.


1. Kanban Board in Agile Software Development / Project Management


Source: Google Images search


2. Kanban Board in sales


Source: Google Images search


3. Kanban Board in Hiring


Source: Google Images search


4. Kanban Board in Incident Management


Source: Google Images search


5. Kanban Board in aviation (flight progress strips)


Source: Google Images search

Automated version of flight progress strips


Source: Google Images search


6. Kanban Board in Food Ordering


Source: Google Images search


You notice that there are multiple variations of Kanban board (manual or systemic) with all trying to help the business and/or customer know the progress of their product/service through the various process stages.


A more advanced or recent variation of Kanban board is a Swimlane Kanban Board where additional characteristics could also be tracked.


Source: Google Images search

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Kanban boards, kanban cards has evolved in different ways in different industries. 

1. Open source kanban board- Used for managing daily tasks of your own or for the team. You can use all sorts of tags, comments, member assigning etc.

2. Online kanban boards- Practicing LSS , managing all work thro' tablets, smartphones, helps in managing task real-time

3. Agile Kanban boards-  Helps teams to accept incremental changes, visually tracking the progress of the activity, backlog etc.

4.Excel Kanban board- Tracking of activity in any project has been used in the basic Excel sheets  just by naming the columns and activities planned and status against each.

5. Kanban Bin- 2 bin/3 bin kanban board for monitoring inventory, the method of pulling on box from supplier end and replenishing the first box by th time 2nd box gets consumed.

6. physical kanban board- The physical kanban cards/placards are placed and maintained. Based on the pull the production is done. 

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An example i have worked on is:


Kanban board is used in manufacturing industry as a scheduling system for lean manufacturing and to facilitate the demand - supply flow correctly. The Kanban cards arranged in a Kanban board intimate the on ground working staff to plan the work as per the demand - the quantity required and running status of production.


Planning of Kanban board is mainly influenced by factors such as:

1. Customer demand

2. Adequate stock in hand (inventory) required

3. Accommodate sudden spikes in demand of particular variant of product


There is different types of Kanban cards used to facilitates the production work on shop floor:

1. Conveyance Kanban cards: to alert people when part is finished in one area and the part is ready to be moved for second stage processing

2. Emergency Kanban cards: when a defect is observed in one or series of product it is used to alert the team working on that stage about the defect to eliminate the defect in current lot of product

3. Express Kanban card: to indicate the shortage of particular part in one area and to be supplied on faster pace

4. Production Kanban cards: to indicate all the type of parts (product variants) required at the particular time and marks the start of production for the product


Kanban board has various other representation as well and can be used to include lot more information than i could explain in the answer. Now days, organisation are even implementing digital Kanban boards and RFID based Kanban cards to track production more efficiently and effectively.




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Some examples of the Kanban boards
Daily sunrise report / Daily sunset report - reporting on the current challenges / issue areas of different stakeholders
Daily star Quality report - mapping the 31 days / 30 days / 29 days with error day, no error day, repeated errors / no input
Mood marbles - Indicating the current mindset of the individuals
IT service performance real time dashboard - Representing the real time
Daily dashboard - Reporting the misses to the top stakeholders 
Quality of Management of dashboard
Highway signs on the accident zone, narrow turns, truck lay bay etc.,
L Board is another example of Kanban

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