Each team and its processes are different. However, when starting out with a task board, all we want is a basic board. In other words, a perfect starting point to begin monitoring tasks and to build on. This is exactly what is covered below – Teamhood’s guide to the basic board for team tasks.
What is a task board?
When talking about task boards, most teams are referring to Kanban boards. A visual representation of the team’s process and tasks moving through it.
In such boards, columns are used to represent the statuses of the tasks. They usually represent 3 main stages – planning, execution, and completion. These stages are then divided into more specific statuses depending on the team’s process. For example, the execution stage may consist of design, manufacturing, and quality assurance statuses.
To further separate tasks by importance, category, urgency, etc, Kanban boards also include rows (also called swimlanes). This allows separating items not only by status but also ordering them in a way that allows for easier navigation. Just like in the example below, rows are used to highlight the highest priority items.
Lastly, all of the team tasks are visualized with item cards. Which move from one status to another as the team is working on them. Depending on your team management tool, item cards can hold various additional information, such as assignee, description, comments, tags, etc. Making them a valuable tool for collaboration and sharing information within the team.
Setting up the basic board
So, now that you are familiar with the main elements of the task board, let’s see what a basic board for your team tasks looks like. In most cases, a stripped-down version of the Kanban board is used. It contains the three main statuses – Backlog, In progress, and Done and is filled with the tasks of the team. In the basic board version, there are no rows, since not all processes require them and the statuses are generalized.
This version of the task board allows you to start with something very simple and clear for everyone. Then, as you begin working, you will soon see which of the steps require additional statuses and clarification. Here are some suggestions of what may be useful additions to the basic board.
Basic board with planning priorities
If your team always has quite a big backlog of tasks to be done, you may enjoy adding priority columns to the basic board. This is done by dividing the Planning section into multiple statuses.
For example – Uprioritized, Priority 2, and Priority 1. This way, you could determine which of the tasks are the most important, which should follow, and which can wait for the next review.
Basic board with specified process
For most teams, the basic task board will also include specific process columns. While these will differ depending on what the team does, it is best to start with something simple.
For example, a manufacturing team could use the previously mentioned statuses – design, manufacturing, and quality assurance. Whereas a design team using a separate board could simplify their process to 2 statuses – working and for review. Remember, you are starting with a simple board and will build and extend it as the team starts working and sees what is needed.
Basic board with a detailed step
For some teams, there may be a need to give more detail about what happens during one of the process steps. In such a case, you may want to add a secondary process to one of your statuses. Let me explain with the previous example about manufacturing.
Let’s say the design stage for this company is usually quite lengthy and requires multiple reviews. In such a case, the team may want to extend the design status on their task board to better understand the task progress. To do so, they would add a secondary process specifically for this step and would be able to track which sub-tasks are already completed and how many of them remain to be done. Thus, giving a better understanding of the progress on this specific step.
Basic board with rows
Lastly, teams working with a large number of tasks on a daily basis will surely benefit from adding rows (or Kanban swimlanes) to their basic task board. These can be used to categorize tasks in various ways and ease the navigation on your board.
Some examples include – specifying the type of the task, different iterations, urgency (or service level), teams, etc. Rows are a powerful tool to bring more order to your task board.
If you are looking for more inspiration, check out this Kanban board example post. Featuring example boards for various types of teams (manufacturing, engineering, marketing, etc.)
Set up your basic board for team tasks
Now that you are familiar with what the basic board looks like and which elements can be used to customize it, deciding on your own configuration will be much easier. Remember, to start out simple and then modify the board as you learn what is needed or as your process changes.
To set up a basic board, use a free Kanban board tool like Teamhood. Here, you will be able to define statuses, secondary processes, and rows. As well as plan out the project using Gantt charts and review progress with various built-in reports.
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2020 - Present Marketing specialist at Teamhood.
2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.