What is a Task Board?

Are you tired of rewriting your ‘to-do’ list? A task board may be your solution. Task boards are a type of visual management tool that help busy people keep track of their work. Because task boards are so flexible, they are applied universally as one of the best project management tools today.

Task boards are a type of visual management tool - LeanKit

What is a Task Board?

A task board is a tool used by individuals, teams or organizations to represent work and its path towards completion. This includes tasks that are in progress, finished tasks and upcoming tasks that may be in a backlog. Tasks are usually represented by ‘cards’ and can be arranged within something as simple as a few columns drawn on a board or dispersed among multiple levels of organization.

Regardless of depth or complexity, task boards are an essential part of organizing work in ways that allow people to prioritize, collaborate and deliver a higher quality end-product on a more regular basis.

Though they have vast personal uses, task boards are at the core of most every organization, industry or business that relies on people working together to achieve a shared goal. Whether it is software development or logistics, manufacturing or sales, on a global level task boards help people and teams:

  • Track workflows
  • Assign tasks
  • Share information
  • Visualize bottlenecks
  • Manage dependencies
  • Predict and avoid production problems
  • Increase effectiveness
  • Improve production
  • Meet deadlines
  • Reduce stress

Often task boards act as a focal point where teams can meet to discuss project changes, prioritize work and review progress towards stated objectives; a centralized resource. Task boards contain all of the information concerning each task at every stage of the workflow. Teams are able to stay on the same page and work smarter.

Types of Task Boards

At its most basic level a task board is compiled of three columns labeled: ‘To Do,’ ‘Doing,’ and ‘Done.’ However, the concept of a task board is flexible and can become much more complex. Style or composition of task boards are usually informed by a team’s method(s) of production.

There are generally two types of task boards, Manual Boards and Electronic or Online Boards. Rarely do teams use just one or the other, but a combination of both. If the resources exist, it is often suggested to replicate information on manual and electronic task boards for complete visual task management; this also encourages face-to-face engagement whenever possible.

Let’s take a moment to review these two types of boards little more closely.

Manual Task Boards

A manual or physical task board can be made from simple materials, like a sheets of paper taped to a wall or a whiteboard. Most manual tasks board are easy to update and are quite flexible. These types of boards work well for teams in the same location, as anyone can approach the board at any time to make a change or review progress, workloads and dependencies. They are generally easy to use, understand and encourage engagement.

Collaboration is possible with manual board, but they can present a few drawbacks for teams working remotely. Also, it creates challenges when trying to provide status updates or review work in progress with customers or stakeholders who cannot be physically present.

Electronic/Online Task Boards

Electronic task boards offer all of the same benefits as a manual task board, but go even further through employing the expansive, highly functional nature of computing. They are information rich, offer up deeper data analysis and facilitate online collaboration.

Though not all electronic task boards live online, or are what you could call virtual task boards, the majority of them do. The composition of electronic task boards are much like a physical task board, with columns representing stages in a workflow and cards representing specific tasks. However, a digital task board can take visual task management much further.

The ability to break tasks down into granular elements is a huge advantage of electronic task boards. Whereas, on a physical board, cards can only contain so much information, cards on a digital board can contain multiple levels of tasks, comments and team data. Like the board itself, cards become a centralized location for discovering task specific details.

Data analysis and forecasting proves much easier with an electronic board. Compiling and reviewing data over the time and resources needed to complete a certain task is a big factor in improving workflow and building efficiency. This is where digital task boards shine.

Once you throw online capabilities into the mix an electronic task board becomes a valued piece for working smarter, completing tasks and achieving overall objectives. Online task boards are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Users can share information faster, communicate seamlessly and promote collaboration. Online task boards also expand tasks beyond the board itself by allowing users to link to information, web pages or documents outside of the board.

Who Uses Task Boards?

The simple answer to this question: EVERYONE.

If you have ever used a calendar, you are using a task board. This is task management in its most simple form.

Moving past simple ‘to-do’ lists, there are a number of other businesses and industries who use task boards to organize work and optimize production.

  • Task Boards for Software Development – Changes in technology and needed software functionality change fast. Many software development teams us task boards, or what are commonly referred to as Scrum or Kanban Boards to help them quickly respond to change.
  • Task Boards for DevOps – Requiring many deployments, task boards are used by DevOps teams to manage communication functionality needs between IT and developers. They allow for automation, integration, visibility and improve the QA process.
  • Task Boards for Interactive Agencies – From new web projects to managing several online brands via different web tools, life in an interactive agency can get hectic. These online marketers use task boards to help visually manage and consolidate everything they are doing for various clients.
  • Task Boards for Business Development – Businesses many different tools to track customer data and leads. Task boards can be an excellent supplement to these tools, bringing more organization to systems that can easily get out of control.
  • Task Boards for Manufacturing and Industry – Most manufacturing companies have a well-defined set of procedures. Though, there is much more to manufacturing than following steps – track inventories, manage resources, review timetables, track productivity, monitor work stations and more.

Anyone who wants to get more accomplished, deliver better results, on time every time uses some form of a task board.

Why Use a Task Board

Task boards help people plan, execute and repeat with growing success. This means working on the right tasks at the right occasions, and knowing how to get stuff done on time. It means raising the quality of work while sculpting an excellent process to meet goals and expand capabilities, all within a manageable timetable. Task boards go about doing this a number of ways.

  • Task boards are a tool for project management – Any business or person, whether they have a few tasks or many, will benefit from a task board. A task board stores information on various tasks in one place so it is easier to manage. Less searching for information and asking questions – more making things happen.
  • Task boards are a tool for organization – Simply stated, a task board helps teams make sure the right things are completed at the right time. Put it on the board, prioritize and assign a team member. See who is working on what and get a clear picture of when it will be completed – Organization.
  • Task boards are a tool for collaboration – Task boards create a central location where people can come together (physically or virtually) and review what is happening, what happens next and discuss how it can be improved. When a team rallies around a task board the keys to sharing work, swarming on bottlenecks and generally doing bigger and better things together become readily apparent.
  • Task boards are a tool for empowerment – The same way task boards bring people together, they give team members ownership. Task boards are not restrictive, but conducive to exploration. They put a face behind each task in process, giving people freedom to make whatever updates or changes and truly own the task.
  • Task boards are a tool for waste reduction – Doing the right things at the right times is a big part of reducing waste. No matter what method of production a team adheres to, nobody likes waste. By using a task board people are properly utilized and resources are optimized for the best results.
  • Task boards are a tool for improvement – Once a task is completed you don’t throw it out and start the next one. Task boards allow you to track how, when and why impediments, if any, occurred along the way so next time you take on a similar task you and your team execute better. It leads to continuous improvement, better planning and better results at each instance.

Learn more about visual task management, workflow and process management using LeanKit’s online task boards for kanban, Lean, Agile and project management.

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