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How to create a Kanban board in Microsoft Teams

Learn how to use Kanban boards when handling existing projects in Microsoft Teams to help visualize the workload, limit work-in-progress (WIP), and manage the flow.

Did you know you can create a Kanban board in Microsoft Teams?

A Kanban board is an agile project management tool based on the principles and practices of the Kanban methodology. It can be used by teams handling existing projects to help visualize the workload, limit work-in-progress (WIP), and manage flow.

The product development lifecycle will also benefit from making policies explicit, implementing feedback loops, improving collaboration, and reducing overall lead times.

Kanban boards are based on a simple premise. You use columns, cards, and continuous improvement to define project stages, individual work items, and progress. However, within these simple parameters lies a surprising amount of depth and flexibility. Accordingly, Kanban teams mix well with other agile methodologies and practices, such as scrum, sprint, and iterative development.

The ultimate goal of using Kanban methods in your teams is to improve your team’s delivery capacity as well as the quality of outcomes.

The 5 components of Kanban boards

Knowing the primary elements that constitute a Kanban board will help you in creating your first. According to David Andersen, who Developed the Kanban Method, a Kanban board consists of five components:

  1. Visual Signals: These are the individual cards, each dedicated to a specific task, work item, user story, etc. They provide a quick overview of all in-progress work at any given time
  2. Columns: The columns break up the entire project workflow into distinct stages or activities. Work items move through columns as they progress. For example, from “Ideas” over “Assigned,” “To Do,” and “Review” to “Completed.”
  3. WIP Limits: Each column should be limited by the number of cards, or “work items”, it can have. This limits WIP by pushing teams to finish stalled nearer to completion first, before introducing or working on lower-priority items.
  4. Commitment Point: Typically, the first column on a Kanban board, this where teams put new ideas (or old ideas from the backlog) that they are ready to work on.
  5. Delivery Point: This is the final column or stage in the workflow when the completed product is delivered to end-users. The duration from the commitment point to the delivery point is the project lead time.

How to create a Kanban board in Microsoft Teams

There are a number of different ways you can create a Kanban board for use inside your Microsoft Team. There are both free and paid Microsoft Kanban board apps as well as addons from third parties with virtually the same functionality.

Keeping things within the Microsoft ecosystem, we’ll take a look at using Azure Boards with Microsoft Teams to collaborate via Kanban boards for your projects.

First of all, you’ll need an Azure DevOps account so that you can use the Azure Boards feature to create Kanban boards. You can sign up for free from the Azure DevOps website:

Azure DevOps Website Kanban Microsoft Teams

After the signup, you can immediately create a new project under which you will be able to add teams boards:

Create a new Project Kanban Microsoft Teams

From your project dashboard, you can go to “Boards” -> “Boards” to be taken to the default Kanban board for your currently selected team:

Boards Kanban Microsoft Teams

Of course, you’ll also need to have Microsoft Teams which you can also sign up for free:

Microsoft Teams access Kanban

Next, you will need at least one team channel that you’ll add the Kanban board to later on. You can create one from the bottom left within the “Teams” tab:

Microsoft Teams Team Kanban

Choose to create a team from scratch, use an existing Microsoft 365 group, or by using certain pre-designed templates:

Create team from scratch Microsoft Teams Kanban

Make your team private, public, or organization-wide. None of these options will affect the rest of the steps so pick whatever meets your needs:

Make Microsoft team private, public, organization-wide

Finally, give your team a name and an optional description:

Give Microsoft Team name description

A “General” channel should automatically be created for your team. Type @ in the message box and wait for the “Get Bots” hint to popup. Click it and you’ll see all the available chat bots for Microsoft Teams. Select “Azure Boards” to add it to the channel:

Azure Boards channel Microsoft Teams

To complete linking Azure Boards to your Microsoft Teams account, type “@Azure Boards sign in.” That will prompt you to sign into your Azure DevOps account:

Azure Boards Microsoft Teams Sign In DevOps account

Finally, type “@Azure Boards link” + the URL of your Azure DevOps project to link the specific project to your team channel. It will also add your team Kanban board to the channel.

While not all features are available with a free plan, you’ll be able to add work items from Microsoft Teams and sync changes to your boards across the two platforms. Whenever you type in @Azure Boards, you’ll see a contextual menu popup with the available commands:

Azure Boards Contextual Menu Pop Up Commands Microsoft Kanban

It’s also worth noting that some add-ons allow you to physically add the Kanban board as a separate tab to your channel. These apps can be added by clicking the “+” icon in the channel top bar and choosing an app from the available options. Going this route, you’ll be able to create, move, delete, and otherwise manage work items with a visual interface from within Microsoft Teams. To use official Microsoft boards this way, you’ll need one of the paid accounts.

Utilize Syskit to facilitate team management, analytics, and service adoption across your Microsoft stack

The power of Kanban lies in its ease of adoption and universality. This process can easily be integrated within nearly any team or project and help you gradually shift to a more agile-orientated way of doing things. Teams already following agile methodologies will find familiarity with their existing practices but will still benefit from the added visibility, scope management, and flow control it brings to the table.

Microsoft Teams analytics - meetings

While Kanban might help you solve a host of workflow-related issues, finding solutions regarding governance, documentation, security, and administration around your projects is another major challenge. Syskit Point is a state-of-the-art suite of governance, administration, and monitoring tools for products across the Microsoft ecosystem, from Microsoft 365 and SharePoint On-Prem to Microsoft Teams.

Syskit Point is the ultimate Microsoft governance and security solution. It helps you enhance security with fine-grained access and permission management across your Office 365 apps, including Microsoft Teams. Syskit Point tracks and analyzes adoption trends across various Microsoft apps to optimize your team’s utilization of these tools. It ensures high levels of productivity in remote work environments by monitoring Microsoft Teams channel and chat usage.

Try Syskit Point for free and find out how we can help you solve your unique challenges.

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