About boards and Kanban
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Your Kanban board provides you with a visual interactive space for you and your team to plan and show progress. With it, your team can track the critical information they need by seeing which work items are in progress, where the bottlenecks are, who work is assigned to, and more.
Boards present work items as cards and support quick status updates through drag-and-drop, similar to sticky notes on a physical whiteboard.
In a nutshell you use boards to:
- Implement Kanban methods
- Define work your team is tasked with by defining user stories, product backlog items, or requirements
- Monitor progress and update the status of work items by drag-and-drop to a column
- Add details and estimates to your backlog items
- Quickly define tasks for backlog items
- Add, run, and update inline tests
To get started, you'll want to follow the steps outlined below.
Product and portfolio boards
Each product and portfolio backlog has a corresponding Kanban board. Both backlogs and boards are associated with a team, and display work items based on the area and iteration paths selected by the team as described in Define iteration paths (aka sprints) and configure team iterations.
Each board supports many Kanban practices such as defining columns and swimlanes, setting Work-in-Progress (WIP) limits, defining the Definition of Done, and more. To get started, see Kanban quickstart.
Configure and customize your Kanban board
Your Kanban board is highly configurable to support your team's workflow. Each team can configure each board in the following areas:
- Configure boards:
- Configure card displays:
In addition to these team configurations, you can customize a project by adding or modifying work item types, the workflow, and add customized portfolio backlogs and boards.
Update work item status
Once you've configured your Kanban board, you can add work items directly to the board. You can then update the status of work by dragging a card to another column on the Kanban board. You can even change the order of items as you move a card to a new column. For additional information, see Workflow states and state categories.
Once you've configured your Kanban board, you can add work items directly to the board. You can then update the status of work by dragging a card to another column on the Kanban board.
Cumulative flow diagram
The Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) is an in-context report available for both product and portfolio backlog levels. Use this chart to monitor key metrics to fine tune your processes.
The Average work in progress value excludes completed work items. Use the interactive controls to choose the time frame, swimlanes, and workflow states or Kanban board columns.
The CFD shows the count of items in each Kanban column for the past 30 weeks or less. From this chart you can gain an idea of the amount of work in progress and lead time. Work in progress counts unfinished requirements. Lead time indicates the amount of time it takes to complete a requirement from the time it was first proposed.
By monitoring these metrics, you can gain insight into how to optimize your processes and minimize lead time.
To learn more, see the following articles:
- Configure a cumulative flow chart
- Cumulative flow, lead time, and cycle time guidance
- Lead time and cycle time widgets
Display of leaf node work items
While you can create a hierarchy of backlog items, tasks, and bugs—we don't recommend that you create same-category hierarchies. That is, don't create parent-child links among work items of the same type, such as story-story, bug-bug, task-task. The reason is that the display of the leaf node, the last node in a same-category hierarchy, may only appear on Kanban boards, sprint backlogs, and taskboards. For example, if you link items within a same-category hierarchy that is four levels deep, only the items at the fourth level appear on the Kanban board, sprint backlog, and taskboard.
Instead of nesting requirements, bugs, and tasks, we recommend that you maintain a flat list. In other words, only create parent-child links one level deep between items that belong to a different category. To learn more, see Fix re-ordering and nesting issues, How backlogs and boards display hierarchical (nested) items.
Limitations of multi-team Kanban board views
While the management teams you configure can use the Kanban board to monitor feature progress by turning on the Features backlog, there are limitations inherent within these views. Even if the management team and the feature teams configure their Feature Kanban board columns with identical workflow mapping, updating the Features on one team's Kanban board won't be reflected on another team's Kanban board. Only when the work item state changes does the card column reflect the same on all boards.
Work items that appear on more than one team's Kanban board can yield query results that don't meet your expectations. Because each team can customize the Kanban board columns and swimlanes, the values assigned to work items which appear on different boards may not be the same. The primary work around for this issue is to maintain single ownership of work items by Defining area paths and assign to a team. Another option is to add custom workflow states which all teams can use. For details, see Customize your work tracking experience.
Permissions and access
As a member added to the Contributors group of a project, you can use most features provided under Boards or Work. Users with Basic access have full access to all features. Users with Stakeholder access are limited to certain features. For details, see Work as a Stakeholder.
To add users to a project, see Add users to a project or team.
Customize your project and boards
If you need more than three board levels, you can add more. To learn how, see Customize your backlogs or boards for a process.
You can also add or modify the fields defined for a work item type (WIT), add a custom WIT, or modify the workflow. To learn more, see Customize an inheritance process.
If you need more than three board levels, you can add more. To learn how, see Add portfolio backlogs.
You can also add or modify the fields defined for a work item type (WIT), add a custom WIT, or modify the workflow. To learn more, see Customize the On-premises XML process model.
Try this next
Take these tools for a test run by signing up for free. From there, you're ready to add items to your Kanban board and customize it.