Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped many project management teams choose the right kanban software so they can track work visually and streamline collaboration.

Showing 1-20 of 115 products

Viewpath

Viewpath is a cloud-based project management solution that allows teams to view team availability, assign tasks and collaborate with teams in real time. With everything hosted in the cloud, the platform can be utilized by global teams,... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 31 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

monday.com

monday.com, an award-winning collaboration and project management platform, helps teams plan together efficiently and execute complex projects to deliver results on time. monday.com team management and task management tool allows for... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 24 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

inMotion ignite

inMotion ignite is a creative project management software built specifically for the needs of creative and marketing teams. Combining the most powerful elements of task and workflow management with the collaborative features of online... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 21 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

MPOWR Envision

Designed to eliminate rigid departmentalization and streamline strategic execution, MPOWR Envision helps organizations build an execution strategy using open communication and organizational alignment. As a cloud-based execution tool,... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 19 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a work execution platform and collaboration tool with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface that helps teams plan, track, and manage projects in real-time. Smartsheet features include a range of project management tools,... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 16 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Sciforma

Sciforma is a cloud-based project and portfolio management solution for enterprises that allows to strategically track and analyze project data and make relevant decisions. It can be sold as a stand-alone portfolio management, project... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
Business Size:
Learn More

Easy Projects

Easy Projects is a cloud-based project management platform suitable for midsize organizations and enterprises. Easy Projects provides every contributing team member, project manager, executive, stakeholder or customer with access... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
Business Size:
Learn More

Cora PPM

Cora Systems provide enterprise project and portfolio management solutions to global organizations and government agencies, such as Honeywell, Elanco, PwC, City of London and the UK’s National Health Service. Their solution, Cora... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
Business Size:
Learn More

Workfront

Workfront is a platform for enterprise work management. Now there is one central application platform to share ideas, create content, manage complex processes, and help people do their best work. When all the information about work... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

AchieveIt

AchieveIt is a cloud-based solution designed to help medium to large organizations in healthcare, government, utilities, enterprise, education, and more organize and integrate multiple plans, progress updates, and reports in a centralized... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Workamajig

Workamajig is a cloud-based HTML5 project management solution designed for creative ad agencies and in-house advertising teams of all sizes. Key features include opportunity tracking, project management, time tracking, resource management... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
Business Size:
Learn More

WorkOtter

WorkOtter is cloud based and built to make your collaborative work easy and visible to the organization. Keep projects in the light and gain traction. Get the tools you need to simplify your work, focus on people, move projects to... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Hive

Hive is a cloud-based project management solution designed for teams of all sizes who need to share files, chat and automate task management. It includes workflow templates, group messaging, multiple task views and over 100 app integrations. Hive... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

JanusERP

Since 2016 Janus ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) has been providing Project Management and Project Controls software solutions to the Oil and Gas, Mine and Minerals, Healthcare and small business industries. Janus was first created... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ that is suitable for both large enterprises and SMBs. It supports remote work for various teams. This solution comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view for... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Ravetree

Ravetree is a cloud-based project management solution with integrated resource planning, customer relationship management and time and expense tracking capabilities. The solution helps users manage project workflows, task assignment... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Sitetracker

Sitetracker is a cloud-based project management solution designed to help enterprises manage high-volume distributed projects. Key features include collaboration, planning and forecasting, performance analysis, reporting and more. Sitetracker... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Work-Relay

Work-Relay is an enterprise work management system that brings together task, process, project, and resource management in a single, unified application. Work-Relay ensures that work patterns are clearly defined, timelines are well... Read more

Price:

Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
Business Size:
Learn More

Targetprocess

Targetprocess is a cloud-based enterprise visual platform which connects Portfolio, Products and Teams. The tool perfectly reflects the agile methodology and can help any company to adopt and scale agile across the enterprise. To... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
Business Size:
Learn More

Project Insight

Project Insight (PI) is the work management hub helping companies manage projects, allocate personnel and track what work is being done throughout the entire organization. The intuitive software aggregates data from high-productivity... Read more

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
Business Size:
Learn More

Buyers guide


Last Updated: June 1, 2020

Kanban is a prominent method used to implement agile project management (PM). It is less rigid and prescriptive than other agile frameworks (e.g., scrum), and is popular among teams that require the flexibility to reprioritize tasks as needed to accomplish project goals.

As the agile PM movement gains momentum, vendors are increasingly developing products designed to support scrum and kanban PM processes. Add these to the wealth of traditional PM tools already on the market and it can be difficult to know where to start.

In this guide, we’ll review the modern kanban PM method and explain how it fits within the larger PM space. We’ll also breakdown the kanban software available to you, so you can make a more informed purchase decision.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Kanban Project Management?
What Is Kanban Software?
Common Features of Kanban Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?

What Is Kanban Project Management?

Before we dive into kanban, here’s a short comparison of agile and waterfall project management:

Agile PM helps teams address and respond to change over the life of a project. Teams start with an overarching project goal and break work down into incremental phases, completing high priority items first. By incorporating more opportunities for inspection and review as the project is in progress, teams reduce waste and strive to deliver the most value to the end user/customer.

Waterfall PM is the traditional model of project management and is change averse. Requirements are agreed upon before the start of a project and benchmarks are set for scope, budget and timeline. Teams work sequentially, and work flows from one phase to the next until the project is completed. Success is measured by how closely the project adheres to the initial plan, i.e., “on-time and on-budget.”

The Kanban method is designed to reduce waste and improve team efficiency. Although less prescriptive than scrum, there are four key principles that define the kanban PM methodology:

  1. Manage work visually. Kanban teams create a visual representation of their work and workflows by using a kanban board. The board is broken down into several columns that represent the team’s different workflow stages, and users move cards with task information across the board to represent where the task is in their workflow.
  2.   
  3. Limit work in progress. By limiting the amount of open work items on the board, teams can reduce the time it takes to complete a single task. Ultimately, this helps them complete work at a faster pace because they don’t suffer productivity losses due to context switching and juggling multiple tasks at once.
  4.   
  5. Work in a “continuous flow.” Whereas scrum is iterative and teams complete work in timeboxes, kanban teams complete work in a continuous flow. Users pull work through the system a single piece at a time and work on that task until it is complete. Then they pull the next highest-priority item from the backlog. Work-in-progress limits help to regulate the flow of tasks and eliminate bottlenecks, so teams work at their ideal pace and do not overextend themselves or get burned out.
  6.   
  7. Focus on “continuous improvement.” Continuous improvement is a cornerstone of agile project management. By embracing change and increasing opportunities for inspection and review over the course of the project, agile teams strive to maximize the value delivered to the customer and/or end user. This is why kanban allows for the re-prioritization of backlogs, so users work on and complete the highest-priority items first, i.e., balancing demand against throughput. This is also why teams track their flow, throughput and quality, and why they limit their open work items, so they can experiment and find their ideal pace and optimize their performance.
  8.   

What Is Kanban Software?

Kanban software supports the above principles in several ways:

Helps teams visualize work and workflows. Digital kanban boards act as a team’s centralized project hub, helping to relate task and project status at a glance. Users can see instantly where a work item is in their workflow, meaning they know what stages it has already passed through and where it needs to go next.

Places actual limits on the number of open items. Kanban software allows teams to set work-in-progress (WIP) limits on a specific phase of work (i.e., column) or on the number of open tasks allowed for a specific user. Managers can put a “cap” on the number of open items permitted, and set up notifications to alert themselves and the user when they have reached the maximum number of open tasks permitted.

Easily reprioritizes work in the backlog, or “to-do” phase, as needed. Items in the backlog can be reprioritized as needed and placed at the top of the “to-do” column or prioritized in another way, either by marking the task as urgent or assigning an agreed-upon color-code (e.g., red for urgent, yellow for needs attention soon etc.).

Tracks the progression of work items and measuring performance. Kanban teams have two defining methods for tracking the flow and progression of work and measuring team performance: lead and cycle time and cumulative flow (more on these in the next section). Kanban software helps automate these reports, allowing managers to schedule them to run on a recurring basis. The findings can be mirrored onto a dashboard or collated into a project status report for stakeholders. Tracking these items helps teams make more informed decisions about their rate of throughput and how to effectively use tools such as WIP limits, so they can work to continuously improve their efficiency.

Kanban board in LeanKit

Kanban board in LeanKit

Common Features of Kanban Software

Look for the following features as you evaluate and compare kanban software solutions:

Kanban boards A visualization of a team’s workflows. The boards are broken down by columns which represent different workflow stages. Tasks are represented by cards that workers pull from the backlog according to highest priority and then move across the board (drag-and-drop to different columns) as the task progresses through the various stages.
Work-in-progress (WIP) limits A “cap” on the number of open tasks allowed in any one column or by any one user. WIP limits can help reduce bottlenecks between stages, such as those that can pile up when projects require specialized personnel resources, e.g., a certain type of programmer. In this example, a manager might set a limit on the number of tasks the programmer is working on to ensure they don’t get overloaded.
Cumulative flow diagrams (CFDs) CFDs are charts that show the status of work items over time. The x-axis plots time and the y-axis shows the number of tasks within a project. Colored lanes represent the workflow stages on the board. CFDs are used to track the flow of work and identify problem areas, e.g., bottlenecks or scope changes, that could impact completion.
Lead and cycle time diagrams Lead and cycle time diagrams are charts that measure the time elapsed from when a task is placed on the board in the “to-do” column until it is completed. Lead time encompasses the entire time elapsed, while cycle time refers to just the time spent actually working on a task (e.g., when it is pulled from the backlog). The goal is to shorten cycle times, enabling teams to improve lead time as well (i.e., if you’re working at an ideal pace, you’ll get to more of the backlog items more quickly).

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Kanban works well for teams within fast-paced industries, such as marketing and communications, who have a backlog of continually evolving commitments. Kanban provides them the flexibility required to re-prioritize their backlog as often as needed.

Conversely, scrum teams work in fixed sprints, and changes and re-prioritization are not allowed mid-sprint. Scrum is still more accepting of change than traditional PM, but not as flexible as kanban.

Additionally, kanban doesn’t call for prescribed roles the way that scrum does, which means that it requires fewer organizational and team changes to get set up. If you’re interested in implementing agile PM, but receiving resistance to an entire agile overhaul, consider kanban as an easy stepping stone.

Furthermore, VersionOne found in their 11th annual State of Agile report, that a hybrid or blended kanban process is more popular than “pure” kanban. Again, this may lower the barrier to adoption for your team and/or organization, so consider flexible tools that allow for custom workflows, fields etc. so your teams can mold the tool to their exact needs.

For tips on how to successfully implement a new project management solution, check out this infographic.