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 not yet 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 name, logo, color and other properties. However, we strongly recommend to keep 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 using the editor buttons are (depending on your permissions):

  • Add plenty of fields or items such as users, cost, dates, importance level, tags, comments, subtasks, attachments, dependencies… Many of these actions have a keyboard shortcut assigned, press H on your keyboard to get the list of shortcuts applicable in any given context.
  • Send to design element, board or the backlog.
  • 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).
  • And on the right ellipsis button:
    • Clone the work item.
    • Delete the work item.

You can also edit most of the visible fields below by clicking on them.

Below the item name (big in orange), there is some sort of breadcrumb of the work item within the structure of the project, displaying the design element, board, category and status of the item. You can open the item in the context of the design element or the board, and can also change the category or stage, by clicking on their names.

Below the basic information of the work item, there are a series of sections with additional data. These sections will be hidden when there is no ata, but can appear after adding new fields and items by using the Add button on the header of the panel.

  • 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 plus button or by dropping them on the task panel, or adding from Google Drive if you are a premium user. Additionally, pictures can be set as the cover of the item card by clicking on the ellipsis button on the attachment and then Display on card.
  • Comments: You and your team can add formatted comments to the item to discuss its progress. Remember you can mention users using the @username markdown tag, which will notify them in case they are not assigned to the item or part of the conversation already.
  • 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 that are 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.

Item card context menu

Besides the task editor, 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 or left click on the ellipsis icon of the card). 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:

  • 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 show 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.
  • Add item: Launches the task/user story creation dialog for this board.
  • Info: A popup will be launched containing general metrics and information about the progress of the board.

The right part of the header 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 a better visualization in certain scenarios. Read more.
  • Actions:
    • Manage board: If you are an admin, you have here a shortcut to access Administration -> Boards & milestones.
    • Display options (premium only): You can tweak several options to decide which info is shown in the card, how do you display progress, how do you visualize the category of the item, etc.
    • Close board: You can directly close the board from this option, if you are an admin, when you completed the items or the deadline has passed.

 

Chris Estevez

HacknPlan Founder

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