Kanban Online: Kanban Digital Board Benefits

There’s something to be said about the simplicity of a good analog system. As more and more aspects of our lives (both professional and personal) seem to be lived on our phones and computers, the glorious feeling of marking something off of a tangible to-do list seems to be that much sweeter.

This is why many teams enjoy having a physical Kanban board - and while there are certainly merits to going “old school” with your project management system, there are several solid reasons for why you should consider taking your Kanban board online.

Accessibility / Flexibility

The first and most important argument for taking your Kanban online is the accessibility and flexibility it provides for everyone on your team. The real value of practicing Kanban (online or on a physical board) is that it allows teams to collaborate and synchronize their efforts without having to spend so much time “syncing up” and “touching base.” Handoffs are clearer, faster, and smoother.

This is especially important as more and more people are choosing to optimize their time management for both work and their personal lives. The traditional 9-to-5 work structure dictates that everyone is in the same place at the same time, and any work done outside of that time is “after hours.”

Subscribing to this way of thinking, an empathetic, but slightly misguided manager might think that using a physical Kanban board prevents employees from working “after hours,” thereby increasing their work-life balance. They might think that a physical Kanban board at the office means that employees are able to keep work “at the office.

In reality, research indicates that:

  • 67% of the workforce is abandoning the traditional 9-to-5 work structure in place of a more flexible schedule that allows them to best utilize their time at home and work
  • over 70% of employees with flexible arrangements strongly or somewhat agree that this arrangement increases their work satisfaction
  • 78% of employees said flexible work arrangements made them more productive

Relying on a physical Kanban board keeps employees chained to the office, meaning they are unable to truly have control over their time, which might result in them leaving for an opportunity that allows for more flexibility.

An increasing percentage of the workforce is also electing to work remotely - from home, co-working spaces, or coffeeshops. A physical Kanban board does not offer consistent, independent access to your team’s project information for these employees, which limits your organizational talent pool significantly.

Using a digital Kanban board means that employees can get up-to-date information about their projects wherever they are, whether they’re at the office, home with a sick child, halfway across the world, or unable to leave their house because of a snow day.

Accuracy / Effort

You know what often kills Kanban initiatives? A self-perpetuating cycle of low accuracy and low participation. In order for a Kanban board to be effective, the team has to keep it updated. It’s the team’s shared responsibility to make this happen.

Certain personality types will naturally feel driven to maintaining an accurate board, whether physical or digital. Others will require more encouragement or practice before they decide to join in this team effort, and for some, it might feel like pulling teeth, either because they’re fiercely independent, ridiculously busy, or simply impatient.

As discussed, a physical Kanban board requires anyone who wants to edit the board to be in the same location as the board, which can be limiting to certain members of your team for various reasons. They also have to interrupt their flow to get up, move sticky notes, write comments, and then probably alert others as to the change as well.

A digital Kanban board considerably reduces the amount of effort required to maintain your board’s accuracy, which can help ensure participation.

It’s much more likely that you’ll convince even the most resistant team members to open a tab or app and drag a Kanban card from one lane to the next than it would be to get them to maintain a physical Kanban board.

Focus

Although there is something to be said about the potential physical and mental health benefits of standing up, walking to your physical Kanban board, and moving a card from one lane to the next, this process is also incredibly disruptive.

It takes most people 15 minutes to regain focus after an interruption, so you can do the math on how many hours your team is wasting each week simply because of the requirement of physically updating a Kanban board.

Updating a digital Kanban board can be as simple as a few clicks, and looking at the board for what’s next can keep your team focused on delivering the work you’ve already prioritized.

Speed

Increasing flexibility, access, and focus in a team’s process is almost guaranteed to increase speed.

  • With the flexibility to bring work with them wherever they are, your team can get more done with less stress.
  • With access to the up-to-date information they need at any time, your team can keep momentum moving on projects.
  • Without the disruption of having to manually update a physical Kanban board, your team can stay focused on keeping work moving forward.

Taking your Kanban board online removes the barriers that often prevent teams from reaching their potential with Kanban.

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