The Kanban Board app provides teams with the option of managing pull-based, lean software development projects. The Kanban Board allows the user to trigger an update to the Schedule State field for any drag-and-drop action from one column to another column. Using the Schedule State field enables a shared view of work in Rally regardless of the methodology that each team practices because many pages in Rally (such as Release Status) show status and rollups based on the Schedule State field.
Product backlog, time-boxed iterations, and estimation are unnecessary when using a Kanban system since work is pulled into the board and the queue is the only work of interest. Achieving maximum throughput is the main goal by determining bottlenecks in the system and limiting the work in progress to reduce task context switching and ensure work is completed efficiently and quickly.
The Kanban Board app includes:
- Set up the Kanban Board
- Use cards
- View and update discussions
- View and update tasks
- View and update associated defects
- Filter by tag
- Filter by owner
- Exit agreements
- Coaching Corner: Why are exit agreements important?
- Dashboard example for multiple Kanban teams
- Available actions
Set up the Kanban Board
Note: Access the settings through the gear menu. Note that settings through this app are per project. Project administrators may only change app settings in projects they administer.
You can set the board to change its data with your global project picker, or you can choose a specific project or group of projects to work from. If you choose the Follow Global Project Setting, then the contents of the board will change according to your global project picker. Select Choose a Specific Project if you want to see another project's work, regardless of your global project setting.
If your board is installed on a shared custom page, check the Default Settings checkbox to use the settings selected in the lower section of the menu for all projects in the workspace. Changes you make to columns, fields displayed on cards, and other options will be used when viewing the board from any project.
Set up your columns
The Kanban Board's columns are determined based on a Rally field. You can use Schedule State, but most Kanban teams will want to use a custom field to define customized columns. You can use different values for different projects (teams).
As a workspace administrator, create a custom field of type Dropdown in Rally with a Name and Display Name of your choosing (such as KanbanState). Spaces are allowed in the Name and Display Name, but special characters are not supported. Add values to the custom drop-down for each Kanban state. For example, Prioritized, Ready, In Dev, Released, and so on. Create this custom field for each work item type that will be displayed on the board, so that stories, defects, and test cases may share the same custom state.
Select the custom field you've created from the Group By drop-down. A table will display below the field.
Each value of your field will be listed as a row. For each row, edit the Show column to determine if that value appears on the board. Use the Schedule State Mapping option to associate values between the custom field and the Schedule State field. We recommend mapping the In-Progress and Accepted values of the Schedule State field to columns displayed on your board. These values are used to generate Cycle Time and Throughput charts. Both charts measure stories that move from In-Progress to Accepted. You can edit these settings inline by double-clicking in the table.
Field values are listed in the same order that was set when the custom field was created or modified. Clicking a column name in the table will sort the fields by the specified criteria. To change the order of the values, edit the custom field.
Set up work in progress (WIP) limits
The WIP value for each row in the table represents a work in progress limit for each column on the board. This value is the maximum number of cards that the team agrees should be in a column at any given time. When this limit is exceeded, the column will turn red. Leave the field blank for unlimited WIP.
Set up swimlanes
Swimlanes are horizontal rows that can be applied to a board for a team to easily visualize work items by category or sub-process. Admins can choose custom fields to be used as swimlanes on the Kanban Board.
To add a swimlane:
- Click the Actions gear menu in the top right of the board and select Settings.
- Select the Swimlanes checkbox.
- Select the type of swimlane you want to set up from the dropdown menu.
- Click Save at the bottom of the settings pane to save changes and create your swimlane.
You can create several types of swimlanes, including:
Cards can be moved across swimlanes by drag-and-drop. Additionally, you can collapse a swimlane by clicking the arrow icon on the right side of the swimlane header.
Change the display options
Select the Hide cards in last visible column if assigned to a release checkbox to make cards disappear from the right-most column on the board when a value is added to the work item Release field.
Select the Show age for card after days in column if you want to see a visual indicator on a card after the limit is exceeded. You can change the maximum number of days as desired.
Adjust the Page Size field to set the maximum number of cards that will display in each column.
Use app queries
Use the Query field to display a select set of work items. You can enter SQL-style queries to filter the cards displayed on the board, based on field values of stories and defects.
User stories and defects are displayed on the board as cards.
You can update all work items, including tasks, without leaving the Kanban board.
You can filter cards on the page by many different values. Click the filter icon and select the desired field name, operator and value from the dropdown lists. Click Apply to save your changes. You can also Clear all filter values or Cancel if needed. To add more than three filters to the board, click Add New.
Select fields to display on cards
Select one or more fields to display on the Kanban Board. Specify which fields are displayed by clicking the Show on Cards icon on the app, located next to the Add New button.
Each card resides in a column according to its Schedule State field or custom field value. When work begins, cards are moved to the right.
To update the state of a card, drag it into the appropriate column. If the work item has tasks associated with it, the card moves to a column automatically after updating the state of a task.
Move existing work to the Kanban Board
If you are not seeing work items from your backlog after setting up the Kanban board, use one of the methods below:
- Assign defects and stories to the first Kanban state visible on your board. Set up a custom view with the Kanban State custom field displayed from the Plan → Backlog page. You can then double-click on the Kanban State custom field for each story or defect to set the Kanban state.
- Another option is to assign work to the first Kanban state by displaying the --No Entry-- column on the board. The board will limit the work in this column to the first 100 cards.
Add new cards
You can add a new user story or defect to the board with the Add New button:
|Quick add||Add with details|
View or edit details
You can edit the Name, Plan Estimate, and Owner fields inline (click once on the field on the card). Note that you can only inline edit the Plan Estimate if it is selected to be displayed on cards by Settings. Enter or select the new field value, then press Enter to save your changes. You can also click outside of the card area to save. Press Esc to cancel any changes.
To view or edit additional fields, click the gear icon and select Edit. Make your changes in the detail page.
Mark cards as blocked or ready-to-pull
If you cannot work on a card, or a task associated with a card, you can mark it as blocked to notify your team of a problem. Blocked cards display on the board with a red border. Hover over a card and click the stop sign icon to set the blocked status.
After the stop sign icon is clicked, the Blocked Reason field displays. Type the reason for the blocked status, then click outside of the card to save. You can edit the Blocked Reason by clicking the field on the card. When a blocked status is removed, the Blocked Reason field is cleared out.
When a card is ready to move to the next stage of development, you can mark it as ready-to-pull to update your product owner or other team members. The card displays on the board with a green border. Hover over a card and click the checkmark icon to set ready-to-pull status.
Choose a color for cards
Use the color picker icon to change the top border of the card. This icon is located by hovering on the bottom of the card.
Adjust the vertical position of a card by dragging it up or down within a column. This is helpful if your team has many work items within a given state, and you want to visually remind them which items are high priority. At the beginning of an iteration, you can use this feature to identify what work is most important to begin first.
Copy or delete cards
You may copy or delete a work item by hovering over a card and clicking the gear icon.
Select Copy to create a copy of the work item and any associated tasks. This feature is useful during iteration planning, when you need to create a similar story, defect, or a template set of tasks.
Select Delete to immediately remove the work item from the board and move it to the Recycle Bin.
Watch the video below to learn how to add new cards to the Kanban Board, edit work item details, and communicate with your team:
View and update discussions
You can review and add discussions for each card on the board. Discussions allow team members to provide detailed updates and comments on a work item.
To update discussions for a card:
To delete a comment, click on the trashcan icon when viewing the details display. Only the original author and administrators may delete a comment.
Click outside of the card or on the arrow icon to close the details display.
An icon will display on each card, indicating the number of comments present. The icon will change color depending on the time the last comment was posted. A discussion with a post less than four hours old displays as dark blue, while older posts display as a lighter blue or grey, so you can see which work items have new information.
View and update tasks
You can quickly view the overall status of associated tasks on each card. If tasks are associated to a work item, an icon and a count of completed tasks display at the bottom of the card. An aggregate total of the remaining task to do hours will display to the right of the icon.
Task Status icons
Add the task status column to your Backlog page to see the state of tasks associated to your user story or defect. When displayed, the column will have a colored icon indicating the status of the associated items.
|Icon||Tasks associated to the work item|
|All have a state of Defined|
|At least one has a state of In Progress, none are blocked|
|At least one is blocked|
|All have a state of Completed, none are blocked|
Edit task fields
Click the status icon on a card to display a list of all tasks associated to the work item. Alternatively, click the plus icon when hovering over the card and select Tasks. To exit the task details display, click the arrow icon or outside of the area.
The following fields display:
- Schedule State
- Task Estimate
- To Do
- Actuals (if visible)
Click any field to enter inline editing mode. You can enter new data into text and number fields, or use a drop-down menu to change multiple value fields.
To view or edit additional fields, click the gear icon next to a task and select Edit.
Add new tasks
You can quickly create a new task associated to a work item with the Add New button in the task details display.
|Quick add||Add with details|
Copy or delete tasks
Use the gear icon in the task details display to copy or delete a task.
Select Copy to create a copy of the task. This is useful during iteration planning when you need to create a similar set of tasks associated to a work item.
Select Delete to immediately disassociate the task from the work item and move it to the Recycle Bin.
View and update associated defects
You can quickly view the overall status of defects associated to a user story. If defects are associated to a story, an icon and a count of active defects display at the bottom of the card.
A red icon indicates that one or more defects with a state other than Closed are associated to the user story. A green icon indicates that one or more defects are associated to the story, but all have a state of Closed. Product owners can quickly scan the icons when updating iteration work—a red icon indicates that open defects exist, and the story cannot be accepted.
Edit defect fields
Click the status icon on a card to display a list of all defects associated to the story. Alternatively, click the plus icon when hovering over a card and select Defects. To exit the defect details display, click the arrow icon or outside of the area.
The following fields display:
Click any field to enter inline editing mode. You can type in the Name field or use the drop-down menus to change fields with multiple values.
To view or edit additional fields, click the gear icon next to a defect and select Edit.
Add new defects
You can quickly create a new defect associated to a user story with the Add New button in the defect details display. Quickly add a new defect by clicking the Add button, or click Add with Details to open the defect editor.
Copy or delete defects
Use the gear icon in the defect details display to copy or delete a defect.
Select Copy to create a copy of the defect associated to the same user story.
Select Delete to immediately disassociate the defect from the story and move it to the Recycle Bin.
Filter by tag
The Filter by tag drop-down allows you to filter what cards are shown by fading out cards that do not have the selected tag applied. If no cards match the selected tag, all cards are faded and a message displays. When the filter is applied to the board, you can still interact (drag-and-drop, click links, expand cards, and so on) with all cards displayed on the board.
Filter by owner
Filter cards by selecting an owner from the drop-down. Selecting an owner populates the board with cards belonging exclusively to one person. Select Clear Filter to return the cards to their original state.
To document what criteria needs to be met before a card can move into the next column, use the exit agreements feature.
By default, the Exit Agreement and Exit Policy fields are hidden from the Kanban Board. To display the fields above each column, select the following checkbox next to the Filter by drop-down menu:
- Agreements on the Iteration Tracking Board or Team Kanban Board
- Policies on the Portfolio Item Kanban Board
When the fields are displayed, hover over the column you want to edit. Click the icon to open the editor. Enter your exit criteria, then click Save.
Coaching Corner: Why are exit agreements/policies important?
The following recommendations for Kanban exit policies were provided by Eric Willeke, a Coach at Rally. Our coaching organization specializes in agile and lean methodologies, and helps customers tailor their use of Rally to unique workflows. Review the following with your teams to ensure you create effective agreements/policies when using this feature.
More great advice like this is available to Rally customers who would like to further enhance their agile and lean processes. For a minimal fee, you can schedule a one hour advising session on the phone. Learn more.
In each column, the policy is the team's commitment to complete a certain list of activities before allowing work to be pulled into the next column. This list typically takes the form of a set of testable statements, such as Code review comments resolved or Installed in staging environment. When observing the board, you can look at a single card's position and be assured that every policy to the left of this card has been met and act safely on that information.
As a result, exit policies answer the question: What does it mean for work to be in this state? These per-column policies help convey clear expectations to stakeholders and anybody else viewing a team's board. This goes a long way to resolving misunderstandings between the team and their stakeholders, creating a stronger, more trusting relationship.
Using exit policies as a checklist allows individuals to focus on leveraging their skills to achieve the product's goals, and reduces the stress factor of having to remember each aspect of the team's commitment. This is also helpful to new team members as they learn the team's behaviors and norms.
Dashboard example for multiple Kanban teams
The following is a useful, high-level dashboard for managers or product owners that have multiple Kanban teams:
On the left side of the dashboard are three throughput graphs, sliced weekly. The X-axes should align, generally using either a 13 or 26 week history.
In the middle of the dashboard is a custom grid showing currently active Cut-in-line and Expedite work, as well as Expedites closed in the prior seven days. Use the following code:
- ( (((Tags.Name = "Cut-In-Line") OR (Tags.Name = "Expedite")) AND (ScheduleState != "Accepted")) OR ((AcceptedDate >= "lastweek") AND (Tags.Name = "Expedite"))
The right side of the dashboard is a custom grid showing blocked work and blocked reason.
|Action||What it does|
|Drag-and-drop to another column||Hover over the card to see the cross-hair cursor that allows you to drag the card into any of the other columns on the board. The Schedule State field is updated when a card is moved from one column to the next.|
|Drag-and-drop re-ranking||Hover over the card to see the cross-hair cursor that allows you to re-rank cards within the same column or re-rank by drag-and-drop from one column to the next.
The card that you re-rank will always be re-ranked to a position higher than the card beneath it. For example, if you move S456 above S123, it will set the rank of US456 higher than the rank for US123.
App Tools actions
|Action||What it does|
|Edit Settings||Configure the Kanban Board for the current project selected in the Project chooser.|
|Show Cycle Time Report||Display the average cycle time (in days) for defects and stories for the last 12 months.
This helps determine how long it takes to get a story or defect from the In-Progress to Accepted schedule state. For example, as soon as a story gets a Kanban state and has a schedule state of In-Progress, it will start tracking the cycle time. Once the story reaches the Accepted schedule state, the cycle time is displayed in the cycle time report. Since the cycle time metrics track data on the Schedule State field, it is important to set this mapping correctly in the Settings dialog.
|Show Throughput Report||Display the throughput (count of work items) for defects or stories for the last 12 months.
This helps determine how often a story or defect goes from the In-Progress to Accepted schedule state. For example, as soon as a story gets a Kanban state and has a schedule state of In-Progress, it will start tracking the throughput. Once the story reaches the Accepted schedule state, this work item is included in the throughput report. Since the throughput metrics track data on the Schedule State field, it is important to set this mapping correctly in the Settings dialog.
|Print the entire Kanban Board including header and page options.|
|Delete App||Delete the Kanban Board.|
|View Full Screen||View the app in full screen mode.|
|Action||What it does|
|View the details of the work item||The FormattedID link on the card title (such as DE7018) is a URL that will take you to the detail page for the work item.|
|View or edit card details||Displays a detail page where you can view or edit a work item. Hover over the card, then click the gear icon and select Edit.|
|Mark a card as ready||Highlights the card with a green border, indicating work is ready to be reviewed or moved to the next stage. Hover over a card, and then click the stop check icon at the bottom to mark it ready. Use this same method to remove a ready status. The Ready checkbox inside of the user story or defect will be edited when performing this function.|
|Block a card||Highlights the card with a red border, indicating work is stalled. Hover over a card, and then click the stop sign icon at the bottom to mark it blocked. Use this same method to remove a blocked status.|
|Change the name of a card||Click the name in the center of the card to enter inline editing mode. Type in the new name, then click outside of the field.|
|Change the owner of a card||Click the owner icon (to the immediate right of the owner name near the top of the card) to enter inline editing mode. Use the drop-down to select a new owner, then click outside of the card to exit edit mode.|
|Copy a card||Creates a copy of the work item, and copies any associated tasks. Hover over the card, then click the gear icon and select Copy.|
|Delete a card||Removes the work item from the board and places it in the Recycle Bin. Hover over the card, then click the gear icon and select Delete.|
|Review and add discussions||Read or add comments to the work item. Hover over the card, then click the plus icon and select Discussion.|
|Action||What it does|
|View overall task status||The status of task progress and total remaining to do hours will display at the bottom of each card. Task progress is represented by an icon.|
|View all tasks with details||Displays a list of all associated tasks and essential fields. Click the task summary icon at the bottom of a card, or hover over a card, click the plus icon, and select Tasks.|
|Edit task details inline||You can update the task Schedule State, Name, Owner, Estimate, and To Do fields from the task details display. Click a field to enable inline editing mode, then enter your changes. Text and number fields will have an entry form, while multi-select fields will display a drop-down. Click outside of the card area or press Enter to save your changes.|
|Open full task editor||Displays an editor window to change any standard or custom task field. From the task details display, click the gear icon to the left of the task, and then click Edit.|
|Copy a task||Creates a copy of the task and associates it with the same work item. From the task details display, click the gear icon to the left of the task, and then click Copy.|
|Delete a task||Disassociates the task from the work item and places it in the Recycle Bin. From the task details display, click the gear icon to the left of the task, and then click Delete.|
|Rank a task||You can change the order that tasks display when viewing the details of a card. In the task details display, click the gripper icons to the left of a task row and drag the task to its new position.|
Associated defect actions
|Action||What it does|
|View overall defect status||The status of associated defects at the bottom of user story cards. An icon will display based on the number of defects associated to the story, and indicates if all defects have been closed.|
|View all associated defects with details||Displays a list of all associated defects and essential fields. Click the defect summary icon at the bottom of a card, or hover over a card, click the plus icon, and select Defects.|
|Edit defect details inline||You can update the defect State, Name, Owner, Severity, and Priority fields from the defect details display. Click a field to enable inline editing mode, then enter your changes. Text fields will have an entry form, while multi-select fields will display a drop-down. Click outside of the card area or press Enter to save your changes.|
|Open full defect editor||Displays an editor window to change any standard or custom defect field. From the defect details display, click the gear icon to the left of the defect, and then click Edit.|
|Copy a defect||Creates a copy of the defect and associates it with the same user story. From the defect details display, click the gear icon to the left of the task, and then click Copy.|
|Delete a defect||Disassociates the defect from the user story and places it in the Recycle Bin. From the defect details display, click the gear icon to the left of the defect, and then click Delete.|
|Rank a task||You can change the order that defects display when viewing the details of a card. In the defect details display, click the gripper icons to the left of a defect row and drag the defect to its new position.|