Before designing your Kanban board, the first step is to define the types of Kanban cards that will be flowing on this board. Although it can feel more logical to just build the board, thinking first about the actual types of work (card labels) is a critical first step. This will help to build your board more efficiently. By discussing as a team the categories of work, it forces you to create a standard naming convention to visualize your work.
Visualize your work faster with colored card labels
As the administrator of a board in Kanban Zone, you can manage card labels by providing a description and selecting a color for each. You can also set a single label as your default when creating new cards and use drag & drop to organize labels in the order that makes the most sense to you and your team. These colored labels will show up on the board and it will help you quickly see the colors for specific types of work.
A good example of using card labels is for a software development team that has two designated colors: enhancements (green) and defects (red). The reason for the color choice is that visually green is a positive credit, where red is a negative debit in terms of accounting for this work. Your team should be happy seeing green cards that enhance your software and less happy to see red cards that represent work that should not even exist but now needs to get fixed.
Increase focus by filtering a board using card labels
We highly recommend using filters when viewing your board in Kanban Zone. One of these filters is for card labels. You can select single or multiple labels, as well as combine this card label filter with other filtering options.
Analyze your data based on card labels
This is where card labels become very powerful. Many of our reports provide the ability to analyze data based on card labels.
The throughput report shows the number of cards completed every month. The card labels are shown in the legend and also as stacked colors within each bar. This provides a quick visual way to better understand the type of work that is being delivered.
The cycle time report shows the time it takes for cards to flow through the board. Thanks to card labels you can isolate the cycle time per label so that better expectations can be set with your customers in terms of how long every type of work usually takes to get delivered on this board.
The allocation report provides a visual of where the work (cards) is allocated. Again using card labels will provide a simple way to clearly see which types of work are being tracked on the board.
Card labels are part of creating a Kanban board
When creating a new board in Kanban Zone, you always start with a board template that you can then customize to your needs. All board templates include predefined card labels that should help you get started with identifying your work types.
We hope that you are as excited as we are about creating and leveraging card labels. One of the key properties in Kanban is to visualize your work, so be colorful and clear about visualizing your work with card labels.
Dimitri Ponomareff is a Coach. Transforming organizations to deliver value faster since 2005, using Agile, Scrum/XP first, and then blending Lean and Kanban. Dimitri has the ability to relate and energize people. He is consistently recognized as a very passionate and successful change agent, with an overwhelming capacity to motivate and mobilize teams on their path to continuous improvements.