10 Kanban Board Examples for IT Operations and Development

Kanban board examples give you a good dose of inspiration for building or improving your own board. You’ll often find similarities in how other teams structure their board and track their work. But just as your team has nuances that make it different from other teams, your Kanban board has nuances that will make it different from these examples. Whether you’re building your first board or looking for ways to improve your process, keep these three tips in mind.

3 Tips for Using Kanban Board Examples

1. Copy wisely. The Kanban board examples included in this list were built to meet the needs of specific teams. Similarly, your Kanban board should match your own team’s process. This helps you figure out how to improve and meet your objectives more effectively.

2. Think outside team lines. These Kanban board examples are geared to specific teams and types of work, but they aren’t meant to be exclusive to those uses. So if you’re on a development team but see something you like on one of the IT operations team boards, try it (and vice versa).

3. Start with (or get back to) the basics. Whether it’s your first board or your 100th, remember to map your process so it reflects your reality as closely as possible. Watch this webinar for more practical tips on how to design your Kanban board.

Board Examples for Development Teams Practicing Kanban

If your team practices Kanban (or if you’re interested in starting a Kanban initiative), these boards model three common use cases for software development teams.

Development Team Visualizing Parallel Processes Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

Development Team Visualizing Parallel Processes on a Kanban Board

Small teams can respect parallel processes among developers without losing visibility of the team’s work, as a whole. The horizontal swimlane in “Doing” lets the HelpDesk team share the same “To Do” and “Done” lanes as the core development team, while keeping the steps they follow unique to their teams.

Development Team Using “Ready Queues” Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

Development Team Using “Ready Queues” on a Kanban Board

Using wait queues in your process can help facilitate a pull system for teams of any size — especially larger ones. The wait queues in the board above are shown by the word “ready” in their lane title and signal work items that are ready to be pulled to the next step.

Development Team Implementing WIP Limits Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

Development Team Implementing WIP Limits on a Kanban Board

By using work-in-process (WIP) limits, you can improve the flow of work through your system. Limiting WIP also helps to focus the team’s attention on shared goals and encourage collaboration.

Board Examples for IT Operations Teams

The nature of the work done by IT operations teams often results in conflicting priorities. By using Kanban boards to visualize their work, teams can communicate priority conflicts, zero in on how to solve them and help get work flowing again.

IT Ops Demand Management Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

IT Operations Team Managing Types of Demand on a Kanban Board

Horizontal swimlanes show different types of demand more clearly, bringing greater transparency to what’s being worked on and illuminating bottlenecks that can slow the team. Segmenting by demand type can also give better insight when reviewing board reports; e.g., if your cumulative flow diagram shows longer cycle times for unplanned work than production problems, you know where to focus improvements.

IT Ops Shifting Priorities Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

IT Operations Team Managing Shifting Priorities on a Kanban Board

Any team can use a Kanban board to stay on top of shifting work priorities. In the IT operations example above, the “On Hold” lane exists below the “In Work” lane to explicitly disclose when a work item is stuck or cannot progress further.

Managing IT Ops Team Members Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

IT Operations Team Managing Team Member Specialties on a Kanban Board

Some teams find it more helpful to divide in-progress work by subteam than by types of demand. When different specialties come together on the same team, it can be helpful to call them out in separate swimlanes, as shown above.

Board Example for a Development Team Practicing Scrum

You don’t have to practice Kanban to use a Kanban board. Many teams use Kanban boards to visualize the work flowing through their Scrum, Scrumban, waterfall, or other hybrid process.

Scrum Kanban Board Example: Managing Sprints - LeanKit

Scrum Team Managing Sprint Tracking on a Kanban Board

Scrum teams can visualize and track the work items prioritized for the current sprint using the “Development In Process” section of the board. The team pulls stories from the “Current Sprint Backlog” and manages task details in the corresponding horizontal feature lane to quickly see sprint status.

SAFe Board Examples

The Scaled Agile Framework(SAFe®) provides a recipe for applying Lean-Agile practices at enterprise scale. Kanban boards can be used to manage SAFe adoption at the portfolio, program, and team levels.

SAFe Portfolio Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

SAFe Portfolio Kanban Board Example

This board layout makes it easy to distinguish between Business and Architectural epics, and track your initiatives through to implementation. Using a Kanban board at the portfolio level helps you visualize your organization’s cross-program initiatives and facilitates strategic decision making.

Program Level Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

Program Level Kanban Board Example

This board example is designed to coordinate the efforts of multiple teams. This allows you to create a single Program Backlog for each Agile Release Train, breaking down epics into features for prioritized delivery in Program Increments.

SAFe Agile Kanban Board Example - LeanKit

SAFe Agile Release Train Kanban Board Example

This board example shows how you can represent different workflows on the same board, giving teams the flexibility to use — and transition to — any methodology they like. Teams use the Agile Release Train board to break down features into user stories and manage them through to implementation.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes it’s easier to create or improve your own board layout after you’ve seen examples of Kanban boards used by teams like your own. Exploring other board layouts can inspire how you visualize your work and how you work together within your team. When you’re borrowing board layout ideas, remember to respect your own team’s way of working as much as possible.

For more Kanban board layout ideas, try these 10 ready-to-go Kanban board templates.

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