Kanban is a simple but really amazing way to keep track of all the things that you want to do, all the things that you are doing, and all the things that you have done. Did you know it was designed by Taichi Ohno, a designer working at Toyota plant in the early 1940s? He wanted to create a lean manufacturing model to make it easy to track pending tasks and create a machinery workflow. I am glad he succeeded. The idea took hold and is now widely used in a number of industries across the world.
We use Kanban boards at TechWiser to keep track of ideas from their inception, research, and various other stages before it finally go live for our readers. But before we share our pick, let’s take a look at some of the best Kanban tools available in the market right now. Because different users have different needs. Let’s begin.
Best Kanban Tools
1. ZenHub – For Developers
If you are a coder or a developer then you work on GitHub, and if you work on GitHub, then you need ZenHub. This robust Kanban tool was developed with coders in mind and integrates directly using API with the famous code repository site. As such, it makes it dead simple to track open issues and pull requests from within the tool. Nifty, eh?
Built to scale as your team grows, ZenHub can create and handle multiple boards for different projects and teams working on different repositories. What’s even more impressive is that all the data ZenHub collects is neatly organized in charts and diagrams, helping you make sense of the data. Also works with Slack because that’s where chats happen! Duh.
ZenHub is completely free for personal, public, and academic repositories. If you are a private company or a startup, pricing begins at $50 per user per year. You can also host it yourself. There is only a web version and support for popular browser extensions.
2. LeanKit (Vertical & Horizontal)
Most Kanban tools come with vertical columns that you use to visualize your workflow. But that’s not always the best option available. What if you need a couple of horizontal columns too? What if you need to group a few columns together? LeanKit is useful if you have multiple projects with certain common elements or tasks. These dependencies can be visualized and tracked using LeanKit.
Built to scale with enterprise in mind, LeanKit has a very flexible layout where you can easily change the board’s view depending on how your project progresses. LeanKit is useful if the regular vertical column workflow is not enough for your needs.
Pricing begins at $19 per month per user and goes up to $29.
3. Trello (Simple, Integrations)
Trello is probably the most popular Kanban tool on the web and rightly so. It is very simple and easy to use with a free plan that’s good enough for most people. Trello integrates with a number of third-party apps known as power-ups that you can enable to manage everything from a single dashboard.
The reason Trello is so popular is its ease of use and simple approach. You can scale as you go along. Trello is ideal for individuals like me to small teams like TechWiser to bigger companies like Google.
Trello is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS platform. The free plan comes with 1 power-up. The gold plan will cost $5 per month for up to 3 power-ups. Team plans begin at $9 per user per month.
4. MeisterTask (Kanban with ToDo Lists)
MeisterTask made the list because sometimes, moving cards between columns is not enough. While Kanban is an excellent tool for visualizing a workflow, what about to-do lists? MeisterTask combines the two to create an even more powerful Kanban tool.
There are some smart automation tools too. You can create sections with pre-defined actions. Let’s say you have a section for recurring tasks. The moment you move a task here, it will be repeated or will recur until you move it out. You can automatically assign tasks based on roles. Useful for delegating work on the fly. MeisterTask integrates with a number of services, just like Trello.
MeisterTask is available on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS platforms. There is a free plan for individuals. Pricing for teams begins at $8.25 per user per month.
5. HeySpace (Real-time Chat)
Ever wondered what would happen if Trello made love to Slack? They would have a baby called HeySpace. This innovative Kanban tool brings the best of both the worlds. You can not only create a workflow board but also chat with your team in real-time in a Slack-like interface.
What’s more? Having an important conversation discussing what needs to be done? Create tasks from chats with the click of a button. You can then assign that task card to anyone and track progress.
HeySpace is only available in a web form and on the Android platform. There are only two plans. One is free and the other will cost you $5 per user per month.
6. Wekan (Open Source, Self-hosted)
Wekan is an open-sourced Kanban tool that you can host yourself on your server. Useful if you don’t want your data leaving your servers. It also gives you more control over how the project boards function. The UI will remind you of Trello which is a good thing because both are simple to use and easy to set up.
Wekan is free and self-hosted but carries all the usual features you would expect out of a Kanban tool. Board backgrounds, checklists, due dates, and users are all there. It is completely free and has won several awards for security as well.
Also Read: Trello v Wekan – Which is the Better Project Management Tool?
7. Jira (Software Development)
Another Kanban tool from Atlassian family, they also own Trello. Though it is more focused towards software development, you can tweak it to suit other needs too. It integrates with GitHub so you can pull requests and work on repositories.
It comes with different templates that you can use to manage multiple projects at the same time. Jira offers a lot of training and has strong community support. The roadmap feature will let you layout the big picture and follow progress. There is a lot of reporting tools built-in to collect and analyze data. Overall, a solid software development tool that implements Kanban, Agile, and Scrum boards to great use.
Pricing begins at $7 per user per month which is very competitive.
Which is the best Kanban Tool?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution and even as simple as a Kanban app is not an exception. If you are not sure about where to begin, I would suggest you take a look at Trello. It is very simple and the community is great. If you need tasks along with a way to visualize your workflow, MeisterTask should be a good fit. If you are a GitHub coder, there cannot be a better Kanban app than ZenHub. Want to get rid of Slack? Try Hey Space however lack of cross-platform compatibility is an issue. Want more control over cards and boards? LeanKit will let you go horizontal instead of just vertical.