Tips for using Kanban in Backlog

Kanban is an Agile project management approach for organizing work, and its best known and defining trait is the Kanban board.

The board helps communicate at a glance which team member is working on which tasks, their status, and the due dates.

Here are some tips for practising Kanban in Backlog:

  • Organize and prioritize work issues as they come in
  • Define criteria for registering issues
  • Set a WIP limit for issues/tasks
  • Use custom statuses to define your workflow
  • Save your most used board views as filters

Organize and prioritize work issues as they come in

When you have different work issues coming in daily, it’s advisable to classify and organize them accordingly.

Ask yourself some questions: Is it a task? A bug? A request? How urgent or important is it? You can use the default issue types: ‘Task,’ ‘Bug,’ ‘Request,’ ‘Other’ to help sort different types of operational work for your team.

Some issues are more critical than others, e.g. a system error or failure. So, it’s important to prioritize and handle them first with your team members.

Prioritize the issue cards in Backlog’s Kanban board by dragging and dropping them. The card arrangement is synchronized for all members so everyone can easily pull the top issue/task card, knowing that it has the highest priority, and work on it first. Doing this initial work of organizing issues will help your team immensely.

Members can add assignees, due dates, and edit the issue cards on the board directly.

Define criteria for registering issues

It’s common for issues to be registered without sufficient information or investigation. Take for example a bug report from a user without enough details about where it occurred. Or perhaps if some investigation had been conducted at the initial stage, the bug could be simply due to internet disconnection.

Your team will waste time if they don’t have the necessary information to investigate the bug. This is why it’s important to define the criteria for registering issues, e.g. a bug report should clearly state the environment and context of occurrence and a request should state clearly what it requires.

These criteria for registering issues or tasks can be defined beforehand and stated in the Backlog project Wiki or in the issue template (for Standard plans and above) so it’s accessible for all members.

Set a WIP limit for issues/tasks

The Kanban method places an arbitrary limit on the maximum number of WIP (work in progress) tasks that can be handled at different stages.

For a team of two members, the limit could be a maximum of one WIP task per person. This helps team members to focus their efforts by minimizing context-switching between tasks or taking up too many tasks that could slow down their work progress.

Since Backlog doesn’t provide a function to limit the number of WIP issues, another option is to make sure your team is aware of the limit. As a reminder, you can record it using the project Wiki, so it’s easy for everyone to access.

Use custom statuses to define your workflow

New statuses can be created to personalize and better define the workflow for your team. For example, you can create a ‘QA Testing’ status to include a stage for quality assurance checks in your workflow.

You can also have a system that assigns team members to work on tasks that land on their columns on the board. For example, when a writing task is ‘In Review’ status, a member is responsible for reviewing it before they pass it onto the next stage.

Save your most used board views as filters

If you have a board view that you find you’re using a lot, you can save it as a board filter to make it more convenient to access. Find issues easily with saved filters!

For example, we’ve saved a ‘website bugs’ filter to make it easier to see all the bug issues under the Website category.

When a filter is saved, you can access it from the Backlog global navigation bar.

You can also copy the filtered view’s URL address and send it to team members so they can access the same board view in their own browser. Having the same view of the board makes it easier to communicate about tasks with your team.

Work smoothly using Kanban in Backlog! :slightly_smiling_face: