Awesome list of FREE Kanban board software

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

But what is Kanban? For those who don’t know, Kanban (看板) is a Japanese word that means signboard or billboard. It is a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time manufacturing. Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, developed Kanban to improve his manufacturing efficiency.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Contrary to what we usually think, the researchers discovered that people that are bombarded with information can’t pay attention, recall information, or even switch from one task to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Kanban is basically a queue limiter. Different from waterfall methodology, Kanban avoids overloading the system. One of the main benefits of Kanban is to establish an upper limit to the work in progress flow, then you need to complete a task/iteration at a time, instead of doing different tasks/iterations at the same time.

I love physical Kanban boards, but I understand that when we work with remote teams, the best option is software all team members can access. I also love the idea of having my Kanban board super handy such as in my phone or tablet. I’ve tried a bunch of software, some people have asked me about them so I made a list with some free alternatives.

ZenHub

It’s an agile project management within GitHub free for small teams and public accounts.

Source: ZenHub.com

Pros

  • Integrates with GitHub, Slack, HipChat, Spark, and Gitter;
  • Burndown Charts and Estimates;
  • Customizable boards;
  • Set a limit of cards for each WIP;
  • +1 button on comments;
  • Ability to connect as many GitHub repositories as you want.

Cons

  • Free only for small teams and public accounts.

Trello

Totally free for small or large teams. For unlimited Power-Ups including app integrations, team overviews, and more security, $9.99 per user each month.

Source: Trello.com

Pros

  • Totally free for small or large teams;
  • Online and offline modes;
  • Integrates with Slack, Box, Drive, and Dropbox;
  • Unlimited boards, lists, cards, members, checklists;
  • Customizable boards;
  • File attachment.

Cons

  • No Breakdown Charts and Estimates;
  • Can’t limit cards on each WIP.

Kasban + Asana

Free for teams of up to 15 users. Premium version $8.33 per user each month (billed annually).

Source: Asana.com

Pros

  • Totally free for small teams up to 15 users;
  • Integrates with Asana, Google Sheets, Github, Dropbox, Hipchat, Slack, Front, Evernote, and others;
  • Burndown Charts and Estimates;
  • Unlimited boards, lists, cards, members, checklists;
  • Calendar visualization;
  • They have the timeline option for paid users;
  • File attachment.

Cons

  • Free for up to 15 users;
  • Boards are not customizable;
  • Can’t limit cards on each WIP.

Swift-Kanban

Free for up to 10 users, cost for up to 50 users and 20 boards is $7 per user monthly.

Source: digite.com/SwiftKanban.com

Pros

  • Large feature set;
  • Customizable boards;
  • Set a limit of cards for each WIP

Cons

  • Complicated to use;
  • Free for only up to 10 users;
  • Free for only up to 4 boards.

Kanban Tool

Free for up to two users, cost for teams is $5 per user monthly and for enterprise users $9 per user monthly.

Source: KanbanTool.com

Pros

  • Breakdown Charts and Estimates;
  • Customizable boards;
  • File attachment;
  • Set a limit of cards for each WIP.

Cons

  • Free for only two users;
  • Limited boards;
  • No file attachment.

Virtual Kanban

Web-based and totally free. It’s a good tool to learn how to use Kanban, and you can also download it because it’s a single HTML file.

Source: VirtualKanban.net

Pros

  • Totally free;
  • Simple to use and make it changes;
  • Editable HTML.

Cons

  • It’s just a simple HTML file;
  • It doesn’t have a login area;
  • It’s not possible to save your board;
  • No Burndown Charts and Estimates;
  • No customizable boards;
  • Can’t limit cards on each WIP.

My choice: Trello

Trello offers both mobile and web versions. I love how customizable and simple it is. It’s very intuitive. Even teams that have never before worked with Kanban are able to use Trello right away.

I frequently use the file attachment feature on cards, for the free version you can attach files up to 10MB. I also love the integration with Slack and Google Hangouts. For example, I use a plugin on Slack, so every time I update a board, it automatically sends a message to my Slack channel. If you want to dig into their Slack integration, you can check it out here.

The only features I miss are WIP limit and Burndown chart and Estimates. Actually for Burndown chart and estimates I use a Google Chrome extension named Plus for Trello. The Burndown chart looks like this below, the red line is my time spent, the blue is estimated time, and green is remaining work.

Source: Plus For Trello
What’s your favorite Kanban software? Let me know your favorite one!

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