6 Kanban Board Tools for Project Collaboration

Variety of lightweight, highly detailed, and easy to use Kanban Boards

illustration of creative team developing software using agile kanban methodology

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Kanban boards are becoming popular online project collaboration tools for digital marketing programs, software development, and even innovation social gaming techniques among other use cases where there is a steady workflow of tasks.

Following the scheduling design methodology in manufacturing production processes developed in the last century, Kanban boards now have been modernized to help teams visualize workflow, analyze processes and achieve greater task management efficiencies. Here are seven Kanban tools that are offered free or low cost with more advanced features.

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What We Like
  • Emphasis on lean management.

  • Excellent model for task dependencies.

  • Free 30-day trial period.

What We Don't Like
  • Extremely expensive license model.

  • Probably overkill for small teams and light projects.

Businessmap’s Kanbanize is entirely focused on lean collaboration and tracking. Notifications and board messaging in real time on the navigation help teams manage the constant workflow and communication. Managed roles also gives added flexibility to fine-tune permissions on projects and tasks. Available in a free public version with consultation and unlimited API calls. Priced per user, but over 50 users on a dedicated cloud, on premise, or public cloud may receive other discounts.

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What We Like
  • Light app, no extra bells and whistles.

  • API integrations with other popular apps.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited free version.

  • A per-user/per-month license model gets pricey for large teams with light requirements.

CodeKick AB, developers of the KanbanFlow app, gives you a basic visual Kanban workflow tool. Teams interested in a gaming tool to create incentives would use the Pomodoro timer, a technique to focus work in intervals of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. KanbanFlow offers a free subscription but the bulk of features are premium, per user fee with support, user roles, and standard workflow analysis tools including a time report to see how much time is spent on tasks. API access.

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Kanban Tool

What We Like
  • Interesting approach to managing agile projects.

  • Three tiers of accounts, including a free tier.

What We Don't Like
  • Antiquated-looking user interface.

  • Must register for a trial account to understand the service's capabilities.

  • Pricey on a per-user level.

Shore Labs developed Kanban Tool with extensive board templates, even a sales pipeline. Custom fields can match a workflow requirement like for accounts. The Dashboard is a workspace for notes and status to team members. Shore Labs demonstrates a useful HR workflow -- attach resumes and add comments following interviews from the team to see progress and selection. Standard analytic tools (breakdown, burndown, and other charts) quickly accessed from the navigation. Limited free plan but low cost per user charge provides unlimited boards and file attachments. API access.

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What We Like
  • Optimized for technically complex workflows.

  • Well-considered site design.

  • API-fed integrations designed for engineers and developers.

What We Don't Like
  • Horrifically expensive.

  • Some may find the emphasis on engineering to be distracting.

  • Two-week trial period

LeanKit combines Lean and Agile methods. Using base work in process (WIP) limits, lanes light up when exceeding the limit. LeanKit demonstrates a 20-person Audit group with finely detailed criteria for managing their publication process. Specialized class of service can be set to date, expedite, or regulatory parameters to reflect the cost of delay. Taskboard and drill through board relationships expand visibility to other boards. Standard analytics on navigation in full sized diagrams with process control (average cycle time). Free trial, with team plan pricing, including role-based security or portfolio plan of hierarchy and organizational metrics.

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What We Like
  • One of the original and best-known online kanboard sites.

  • Generous free accounts.

  • Great for small teams and individuals.

What We Don't Like
  • True collaboration requires a paid account.

  • Not as powerful for highly technical, dependency-driven work.

Developed by Fog Creek Software is forever free. Ideal for students and teams, Trello offers great overviews of card information and detail of attachments, activity stream, and checklists. In view, member avatars and real-time collaboration, @mentions to generate notifications, or take on social gaming challenges in productivity, voting ideas for go-no-go decisions, scaling to large screen group presentation. Windows 8, iPhone, and iPad apps available in the App Stores. Google and Dropbox integration.

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What We Like
  • Competitive pricing.

  • Great for non-technical collaboration, such as marketing and HR.

What We Don't Like
  • Aesthetically challenging interface.

  • Less emphasis on integrations with other platforms and services.

Newer Kanban board developer, Volerro appeals to digital marketers and has a natural fit for software and product development. Volerro’s unique annotation feature facilitates collaboration on video timelines, web pages, and documentation of any kind. RSS and social sharing delivery model from Volerro complements the iterative digital asset management process and marketing automation in social networks. File attachments and project data stored on Amazon servers. Free plan and upgrade to match requirements for storage capacities.