The kanban board

HacknPlan has been built around agile project management concepts, although it doesn’t enforce a specific methodology. One of those common concepts is the kanban board, a visual way of representing the progress of work units through different stages of development. This is one of the best methods to visualize the status of a project and track the progress of your work items.

Our kanban boards are a bit different from other common layouts out there. First of all, our boards have a fixed and simple column layout with four stages:

  • Planned: The work item is included in the current board, but has yet to be started.
  • In progress: Someone is actively working on the work item. We strongly recommend a user don’t have more than one assigned work item in progress, to really reflect the current work being done.
  • Testing: The work item is being tested or reviewed. Depending on the outcome of this stage, the work item may come back to In progress for further development or finally moved to Complete.
  • Complete: The work item has been successfully completed.

Note: HacknPlan Studio users can customize their stages, adding new ones, removing the defaults or editing the name, logo, color and other properties. However, we strongly recommend keeping it simple; creating many columns could make the board more difficult to maintain and less clear to visualize.

Another important feature is we subdivide every board into different sub-boards by category (also one including all of them). If you are, for instance, an artist, you can quickly select the Art board and forget about the rest, gaining clarity and getting a better overview of your work. The list of categories is displayed on a panel at the left of the kanban board (as an icon and name or colored icons, depending on your subscription tier), and can be customized by clicking on the gear button at the bottom of the list (if you are an admin).

Updating items on the board

You can perform a lot of operations over the items from the kanban board. If you created a new board and put some items on it, they will be in the Planned column, ready to be started. As you work on them, you can move them to other stages by dragging and dropping them into the desired column (if you have the correct permissions).

If you want to edit a work item, you can do so by clicking on the card. This will open an edition panel on the right, which contains extended information about the item and allows you to edit everything related to it, in case you are an admin or have permissions over the category. 

The actions you can perform are (depending on your permissions):

  • Edit the basic information of the work item by clicking on them: design element, board, user story, assigned users, tags, category (only for tasks), stage, importance level, dates and estimated cost.  

You can open the element in the context of the design element by clicking on the icon next to the associated design element name. 

  • Log work (opens up a dialog to enter an amount of time/effort that will be added to the current cost of the work item, along with an optional message).
  • Track time for the item using the automatic time tracker (premium only).
  • Change display mode for additional work item properties.
  • Convert to user story/task.
  • Clone the work item.
  • Delete the work item.

Below the basic work item information, several additional work item properties have been arranged in several tabs. Many of these actions have a keyboard shortcut assigned to them, press H on your keyboard to get the list of shortcuts applicable in a given context.

  • Description: You can add a complete description, links, pictures, and everything necessary to clarify what needs to be done. This field supports markdown syntax, so you can format the text as you wish.
  • Subtasks (tasks): You can define a checklist of steps to perform when working on the task, as a quick reminder of things to do, which also helps to measure the progress of the task.
  • Tasks (stories): When the work item is a user story, you can add specific tasks with their own information, status, assignments… to have another level of granularity on the progress of the story and split the work between several users efficiently.
  • Attachments: You can upload and attach files to the items by clicking on the corresponding icon (depending on whether you add the information from your computer or the project) or by dropping them in the task panel. It is also possible to add files from Google Drive if you are a premium user. 

In addition, images can be set as the cover of the item’s card by clicking on the eye-shaped icon that appears on the right when hovering over the file.If needed, the image can also be removed from the cover.

  • Comments: You and your team can add formatted comments to the item to discuss its progress. Remember that you can mention users using the @username markdown tag. Users who are mentioned or who have participated in the comments will receive notifications as long as it is configured in the notification settings.
  • Dependencies: You can set items that are required to be completed for the current one to be started. This is a way of defining a relation of dependency between items blocking them when they can’t be updated and showing it as a lock on the item card. You can also see a list of items waiting for the current one to be completed.
  • Source code (premium only): This section shows a list of commits (GitHub, GitLab or BitBucket) attached to the item, with links to view the commit details.
  • Work logs: Displays a list of the users who logged work on the item, which can also be expanded to see a complete detail of the individual logs.
  • Activity: Displays the historical activity of the item.

In case you want to keep a single-page format, there is the possibility to visualize the properties of the work item in this format. To do this, simply go to the top right of the panel, and click on the icon Mode.

Item card floating menu

By hovering over a card, you can access a context menu to quickly perform various actions on its elements. Also, premium users will be able to perform these actions over several items at once (by selecting them using Ctrl + click or Command + click). The available actions are:

  • Log work.
  • Add users.
  • Send to a design element.
  • Send to a board.
  • Send to the backlog.
  • Clone.
  • Delete.

If you do not want this menu option to be visible, it is possible to disable it. To do this, go to Actions (ellipsis icon at the top right of the screen) → Edit card display options . Here you will see a list of options including Display floating menu, which you must disable. 

Item card context menu

Besides the task editor and the floating menu, you also have the possibility of performing quick actions over the items from the context menu of the card (right-click on the task card). Also, premium users can perform these actions over several items at once (by selecting them using Ctrl + click or Command + click). The available actions are:

  • Move to the top of the column.
  • Move to the next stage.
  • Add users.
  • Send to a design element.
  • Send to a board.
  • Send to the backlog.
  • Log work.
  • Clone.
  • Delete.
  • Move to the previous stage.
  • Move to the bottom of the column.

Other board features

The header of the kanban board sections provides you with some extra buttons and information.

The left part of the header shows options for the milestone of the board:

  • Grouped by design element (Personal Plus & Studio): It consists of a kanban board in which it is possible to view the work items assigned to each design element. If you want to have a comprehensive view of the tasks and their status, and also contextualize each of them in the design element where it is assigned, it is possible to see it in this view.
  • Board info: A tab where it is possible to visualize general metrics and information about the board’s progress.

The right part of the header shows other options for the milestone of the board:

  • Remaining time: When you are in a board (not in the backlog) and you have a due date set, it displays the time remaining or, in case the deadline has passed, how much overdue you are.
  • New item: Launches a task/user story creation dialog for this board.

The right part of the header also provides some features that apply to how you as a user visualize the boards (these options don’t affect other members of your team):

  • Search: Performs a quick search by text over the items on the board and filters them to show only the ones that match the terms entered. This filter is performed over all the visible fields of the card.
  • Filters: The first button on the header allows you to set different filters for the board. Read more.
  • Sorting: The items are automatically sorted by the order you manually set using drag and drop. However, you can also sort them by other fields for better visualization in certain scenarios. Read more.
  • Actions:
    • Display options: You can tweak several options to decide which info is shown in the card, how you display progress, how you visualize the category of the item, etc.
    • Edit board: If you are an admin, you can edit the board data (name, description, milestone, etc.).
    • Manage board: If you are an admin, you have here a shortcut to access Administration → Boards & milestones.
    • Close board: You can directly close the board from this option if you are an admin when you have completed the items or the deadline has passed.