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

 axel2001 / Getty Images

Kanban boards are becoming popular online project collaboration tools for digital marketing programs, software development, and even social gaming techniques, as well as other projects where there's a steady workflow of tasks.

Following the scheduling design methodology in manufacturing production processes developed in the last century, Kanban boards have been modernized to help teams visualize workflow, analyze processes, and achieve greater task-management efficiency. Here are seven free or low-cost Kanban tools to consider.

Kanban started as a visual scheduling system that was part of the Toyota manufacturing process.

01
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Kanbanize

Kanbanize Kanban board website screenshot
What We Like
  • Emphasis on lean management.

  • Excellent model for task dependencies.

  • Free 30-day trial period.

What We Don't Like
  • 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 help teams manage constant workflow and communication. Managed roles also give added flexibility for fine-tuning permissions on projects and tasks. Flexible pricing plans range from free to $99 per month, with optional add-ons available.

02
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KanbanFlow

Screenshot of KanbanFlow Kanban board website
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, offers 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 powerful free version and a $5 per-user per-month premium version with additional features.

03
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Kanban Tool

Screenshot of Kanban Tool website
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 and even a sales pipeline, along with custom fields that can match workflow requirements. The Dashboard is a workspace for notes and status updates. Shore Labs demonstrates a useful HR workflow along with standard analytic tools (breakdown, burndown, and other charts) that are easily accessed from the navigation menu. Kanban Tool offers a limited free plan along with a $5 per-user per-month Team plan and a $9 per-user per-month Enterprise plan with expanded features.

04
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LeanKit

Screenshot of LeanKit Kanban website
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
  • Expensive.

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

  • Two-week trial period.

LeanKit combines Lean and Agile methods. It uses base work-in-process (WIP) limits, with lanes lighting up when exceeding the limit. LeanKit demonstrates a 20-person Audit group with finely detailed criteria for managing their publication process. A specialized class of service can be set to date, expedite, or regulatory parameters to reflect the cost of delay. LeanKit offers a free trial and paid versions: LeanKit for Teams is $19 per month per user, and LeanKit for Scaled Teams is $29 per-user per-month. Enterprise custom options are also available.

05
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Trello

Screenshot of Trello Kanban website
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.

Ideal for students and teams, Trello offers great overviews of card information and detail of attachments, activity stream, and checklists. Trello utilizes boards, which contain lists, which are made up of cards. Boards can represent projects, lists can be used for tasks, and cards can contain sub-tasks or options. Windows 8, iPhone, and iPad apps are available.

All of Trello's core features are free; the paid Trello Gold is $5 per month or $45 per year and adds some perks. Trello's Business Class version is $9.99 per-user per-month, and its Enterprise version is $20.83 per-user per-month.