For those unfamiliar with it, Kanban is a project management technique developed by Toyota and popularized in IT circles by its application in Agile software development methodologies. In software development, it’s simplest form is a whiteboard with columns for each status, in which post-it notes are affixed for each task. As tasks migrate through development, the post-it note is moved from column to column. Several web-based services and downloadable project management applications exist for implementing something similar sans the whiteboard (one of the best being AgileZen). However, in some cases a lightweight version based on SharePoint might be handy. SharePoint provides out-of-the-box functionality for creating project task lists, and, with a little pointing-and-clicking, it’s possible to display these out-of-the-box project task lists Kanban-style. Here’s how:
Create the Project List
The standard Team Site has one of these, called ‘Tasks’, but you may choose to create your own. To do this, click Site Settings –> More Options –> Project Tasks. Give the list a name and url, and click OK. Once you have a task list, to create a few tasks- one for each status. When you’re done, you should have something like this:
Next, create views for each column that will be on the Kanban board. You may want to give some thought as to what the columns will be, but for this demo, I chose views named ‘Not Started’, ‘In Progress’, and ‘Recently Completed’. Tasks with a Deferred or Waiting status will be considered ‘In Progress’. To do this, follow these steps:
- Click ‘List –> Create View –> Standard View
- Enter ‘Not Started’ as a view name
- Uncheck all columns except for title
- For Sort, choose Priority and then Due Date
- For Filter, Check ‘Show items only when the following is true’
- Set ‘Show items when column’ Status is equal to Not Started
- Repeat for each view, changing the name and filters appropriately
- For the ‘Recently Completed’ view, sort by Modified instead of ‘Due Date’
Create the Kanban Board
To visualize all of these in columns, create a new page and then add each view in a table. To do this, follow these steps:
- Click ‘Site Actions –> New Page’
- Enter the page name and click OK
- Click ‘Insert’ and drop down on ‘Table’ to create a 3 column table.
- Click inside the first column and click Insert –> Existing List
- Choose the task list you created (or the default one) and click ‘Add’
- Drop down on the web part menu and choose ‘Edit Web Part’
- Choose the ‘Not Started’ view and click ‘OK’ for the warning.
- Enter ‘Not Started’ for the Title.
- Repeat for each column, choosing the appropriate view.
- For In Progress and Completed, also choose ‘No Toolbar’
In the end, you should have something that looks like this:
And there you have it! A simple Kanban board, built in minutes, with out-of-the-box SharePoint functionality!
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can spice it up a little bit by customizing the page in SharePoint Designer. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader for now, but here are some ideas on how to improve on this:
- Remove those ‘Title’ column headers
- Use formatting to highlight items that are deferred, waiting, or past due
- Use Content Query Web Parts instead to roll up tasks from multiple sites into a single Kanban board.