I wanted to see if others might be able to share some of their best practices for using Kanboard in a mixed organization with different departments (not just IT/software development) making use of the tool?
I’ve been running a long-term “test” you could say with Kanboard for almost 3 years now.
Originally, I started off with a single board for our IT department as a whole, and eventually created swimlanes for our subareas within IT: one for our Application Services, one for our Network/System Admin Services, one for our Computer Techs, and one for Online Services.
After a little while under this model (which I thought was kind of nice, since it had all of our IT work in a single location), I was asked to see if I could split those swimlanes off into individual Kanboard Projects (partially to aid in configurability since as swimlanes each area was stuck with the general settings/columns/etc. for the project and couldn’t tweak things much).
This initially lost some visibility about what was going on, but I ended up enabling notifications for myself in the other projects so that I could still have an idea of what else was going on.
For the most part though, I was pretty much the primary user of Kanboard within our department keeping track of Online Services related items. The other IT areas have used it somewhat, but overall it’s pretty minimal in comparison.
The drawback of separating things out into individual projects though does make it easier to provide an aggregate “What’s Going On?” sort of view for higher ups, and that’s an area where I feel Kanboard is pretty weak right now and is also part of the reason for: [feature-request] Can Projects Be Organized Into Categories? but even with such a feature additional views would need to be added that provide the aggregate views. Currently, achieving this would likely require an external report to be generated from the Kanboard database since if I remember a past experiment with the API, I don’t think I was able to pull in the needed info to create the report I was envisioning at the time (this was sometime last year).
My CTO was pretty excited about the Gantt chart capability, but the output hasn’t been super useful since we’re not making use of Start / End Dates on most tasks (plus he was more interested in being able to see Milestones and Subtasks too…but the Gantt view just shows the task names only).
After switching to the individual boards for each IT area, even though it wasn’t as centralized as the initial single board for all of IT, it seemed like it was a nice straightforward way to keep track of all of tasks over a long period of time (in other words, this would be a project without an end date since I wasn’t planning on creating additional projects in Kanboard for myself for each bigger “project” type task that came in…those would simply end up being normal tasks with additional subtasks created inside of them). To me, this felt more logical since I felt that creating a lot of extra projects would end up cluttering up things (or if I had multiple projects going on at once, that would mean switching between boards frequently, where I’d prefer being able to just use one board most of the time).
Even though that was my approach (sticking with one board for my work) my CTO was interested in the idea of creating multiple projects so the Network/System Admin folks did that for a bit, but it’s been a while since they’ve posted anything new.
At a higher organizational level, I’d love to introduce Kanban to the rest of our organization, since I have a feeling it can be useful in other areas, but at the moment it’s unclear to me which approach is going to be best to go with overall…although right now I’d lean towards keeping things to one project per department to simplify the overall management and currently I’d handle aggregating those departments up a level manually once I spend some time working on that piece.
The other part I struggle with is how difficult it’s been to just get my own fellow IT colleagues to get on board with using the tool since I don’t manage the other staff directly so at this point I feel like if we’re not truly using it successfully within IT as a whole…how can I promote it to other departments?
There might be some other open source Kanban tools out there, but Kanboard is still the only PHP-based one I think that’s pretty full featured (and up my alley to keep up to date and manage), but it would be nice to build up some best practices around using Kanboard specifically across an organization (even though Kanban is super flexible, it’d be nice to have concrete examples of how others have utilized the tool in different types of departments that could be used as sources of inspiration or best practices).