11 Best Kanban Board Tools for Effective Team Management

Kanban is a workflow management methodology popularly used in software development and other project/product teams to visualize work, maximize efficiency, and promote continuous improvement.

A Kanban board is a central component of the Kanban system – it provides a visually compelling overview of all ongoing tasks and projects so teams can better coordinate, track progress, and identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies.

But with so many Kanban software tools now available, how do you determine which solution is right for your needs? This guide compares 11 of the top-rated options to help you find the best Kanban board for effective team management.

What is a Kanban Board and How Does it Work?

A Kanban board is a physical or virtual board that visualizes your team‘s work as it moves through various stages of completion. Although formats can vary, boards typically have columns representing the different phases of your workflow such as To Do, In Progress, In Review, Done, etc. These columns contain cards representing tasks, user stories, or project deliverables.

Team members move each card from left to right across these columns as work progresses until they eventually land in the Done column. This method provides at-a-glance visibility into what everyone is working on and where things are in the process at any given time.

The goal with Kanban is to identify and fix workflow issues to keep work flowing smoothly through your system. Common tactics include limiting work-in-progress, implementing continuous delivery, improving processes through metrics/analytics, and automating repetitive tasks.

Some key benefits Kanban boards offer teams include:

  • Enhanced visibility into current workloads and workflow constraints
  • Improved communication and collaboration since everyone shares a single, up-to-date source of truth
  • Early identification of bottlenecks before they severely impact delivery timelines
  • Greater focus and productivity by highlighting priorities clearly
  • Flexibility to evolve work management systems gradually and organically

Now let’s look at some of the best Kanban software available to help streamline these processes for your organization.

Top Kanban Board Tools Compared

1. Monday.com

Monday.com is one of the most popular Kanban solutions available today. This cloud-based work OS makes it simple for teams to create Kanban boards, customize workflows, manage projects, collaborate with teammates, analyze performance metrics, automate repetitive tasks, and more – all in a beautiful, easy-to-use interface.

With Monday‘s boards, teams can:

  • Build elegant Kanban boards complete with card columns, swimlanes, colors, tags, progress bars, subtasks, attachments, and comments
  • Customize workflows from scratch or leverage prebuilt templates for software development and business operations
  • Implement WIP limits to avoid overloading team members
  • Extract key data and insights into cycle times, throughput, and identify bottlenecks
  • Integrate with over 100 apps like Slack, GitHub, Google Drive, Jira, Zendesk, and Salesforce

Pricing starts at $8 per month per user but discounts are offered for annual plans and larger teams. Free trials are available.

2. Smartsheet

Smartsheet is another end-to-end work execution platform with excellent Kanban support. Like Monday.com, it goes far beyond basic boards with tools to plan projects, automate workflows, analyze performance, and collaborate across the organization.

Standout Kanban features include:

  • Fully-customizable card views showing assignees, start/due dates, attachments, comments/updates, and more
  • Card sorting and filtering for quick access important tasks
  • Task hierarchies to break down larger stories into manageable chunks
  • Automatic rule-based notifications so team members respond urgently to pressing needs
  • Real-time editing with multi-user cards for live collaboration
  • Workload balancing using capacity planning and overdue reports
  • 3,000+ app integrations via Zapier and Azure flows

Their Kanban solution works nicely for both agile software and business service teams. Pricing begins at $14/user/month with bulk discounts available.

3. Trello

Trello is arguably the most user-friendly Kanban tool available today. It consists of freeform boards, lists, and cards that teams can fully customize to match any workflow. Members can then navigate tasks, assign due dates, attach files, add labels and comments, and much more to streamline coordination.

Trello makes it simple for new teams to get started but also scales nicely for more advanced agile frameworks like Scrum.

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight, intuitive interface requiring almost no training
  • 750+ app integrations via Zapier including Slack, Jira, Salesforce, Adobe CC, and GatherContent
  • Numerous board templates to accelerate implementation
  • Granular user permissions and notifications
  • Agile project management capabilities like versioning, reporting, and automation

Trello offers generously free plans along with Business Class ($9.99 per user/month) and Enterprise options for additional security, support, and controls.

4. Jira

Jira began as a bug and issue tracking tool for developers but has since expanded into a full-featured project management solution for agile software teams. It comes with excellent Kanban capabilities out of the box or users can easily install prebuilt templates to match different workflows.

As an enterprise-grade solution, Jira offers more advanced options compared to lighter-weight tools above including:

  • Custom statuses, workflows, boards, swimlanes, and card types
  • Epic and story hierarchies for large initiatives
  • Timeline views of tasks across multiple projects
  • Customizable reports, dashboards, and burndown charts
  • Advanced roadmap planning and dependency mapping
  • Audit logs and analytics for historical tracking
  • Role-based permissions and project visibility

Jira integrates nicely with Git, Bitbucket, Confluence, and the rest of Atlassian‘s ecosystem. Plans start at $7/month for 10 users.

5. LeanKit

LeanKit is a dedicated Kanban solution designed for software dev teams practicing Lean-Agile methods. It combines digital boards with enterprise dashboards, reporting, and analytics to help facilitate delivery, planning, retrospectives, and process changes.

Notable features include:

  • Highly-flexible board designs with custom columns, swimlanes, card styles, colors, etc.
  • Integrated delivery metrics based on cycle time, flow, and throughput
  • Interactive data visualization and historical reporting
  • Touch-based whiteboards for in-person Standups and Planning
  • Prebuilt integrations for Slack, Azure DevOps, IFTTT, and more
  • Scales intelligently from startups to the largest enterprises

In addition to its Kanban software, LeanKit offers training, coaching, and transformation consulting to support implement success. Plans start at $15 per user/month. Discounts offered for annual contracts.

6. MeisterTask

MeisterTask markets itself as a beautifully simple Kanban solution. It focuses on ease of use and flexibility to adapt boards on the fly instead of complex reporting or restrictive frameworks. The tool works great for small creative and marketing teams but also scales up nicely as well.

Advantages of MeisterTask include:

  • Intuitive drag and drop interface requiring minimal training
  • Complete visibility over tasks with custom columns, labels, notifications, and more
  • Real-time changes so the board is always up to date
  • Time tracking to analyze effort and improve estimates
  • Custom workflows, swimlanes, and pipelines out of the box
  • 500+ integrations with apps like Jira, Trello, Slack, Google Analytics and Zapier

MeisterTask is offered as a free plan with unlimited cards and collaborators as well as premium plans for enhanced reporting, permissions, and automatic integrations.

7. ZenHub

ZenHub serves as an Agile layer on top of software repositories like GitHub and GitLab, equipping teams to plan, triage tickets, map progress, identify bottlenecks, and more without ever leaving their code. It’s an excellent addition for organizations running DevOps practices.

Key features provided include:

  • Custom Kanban boards for tracking issues directly in repository managers
  • Epics for grouping issues spanning projects, teams, or releases
  • Roadmaps with release milestones and dependency tracking
  • Burndown charts based on story points and estimates
  • Analytics on cycle times, throughput, WIP limits, and flow
  • Native integrations for CI/CD tools, Slack, and project automation

If your developers already live inside GitHub or GitLab, ZenHub allows leveraging those systems as the source of truth for project management. They offer generous free plans for smaller teams as well as paid Pro plans starting at just $5 per member/month.

8. Hygger

Hygger provides Kanban project management for Agile software teams with a focus on usability, automation, and actionable data. It comes with prebuilt workflows for popular Scrum tactics that serve as an excellent starting point.

Notable capabilities include:

  • Customizable issue boards with releases, sprints, assignees, tags, etc
  • Roadmaps and backlogs to plan projects months in advance
  • Gantt charts for scheduling tasks and identifying dependencies
  • Time tracking with blendable hourly rates for accurate billing
  • Analytics focused on actionable insights like identifying estimation gaps or overloaded engineers
  • Slack and GitHub integrations with additional options via Zapier

They offer attractive pricing at just $2.99 per user/month and even offer unlimited free boards for smaller teams. Hygger runs special promotions regularly as well including 30% annual discounts.

9. Kanbanchi

Kanbanchi combines digital task boards with Pomodoro technique timer apps to keep remote teams productive and focused. It’s simple to configure custom workflows then track progress across team members.

Benefits include:

  • Quick setup with premade templates tailored for marketing and management
  • Timer apps that promote focus via interval counting between short breaks
  • Power-up integrations for extras like timesheets, calendars, and custom formulas
  • Interactive charts showing WIP limits, card cycle times, and service-level compliance
  • Easy configuration of service level agreements (SLAs) to avoid breaching contracts
  • Seamless use on desktop and mobile with automatic time synchronization

Kanbanchi offers basic functionality free for personal boards then paid Team plans starting at $5.50 per member/month when billed annually. Bulk discounts are available as well.

10. Planview LeanKit

Planview LeanKit helps Lean-Agile teams manage digital Kanban boards, organize backlogs, and analyze value stream metrics from a single hub. It‘s a great solution for those running scaled software practices.

Top features include:

  • Interactive boards with custom columns, card types, tags, swimlanes, and WIP limits
  • Backlog suites for powering Scrum ceremonies like grooming and sprint planning
  • Integrated delivery metrics focused on action not just numbers
  • Ideal for large organizations with advanced SAML, audit rules, and permissions
  • Managed scaling guides for aligning teams, programs, and portfolios
  • 70+ integrations via HTTPS webhooks and IFTTT

As a dedicated enterprise platform, Planview LeanKit requires significant upfront and ongoing investment. Be sure to request precise pricing based on your desired configuration.

11. Leankor

Leankor provides hybrid Kanban-Scrum solutions for agile product teams with advanced reporting suitable for executives. Features that set Leankor apart include:

  • Custom statuses, points, assignments, tags, priorities per board
  • Map user stories/requirements into sprints with effort-based forecasting
  • Display project status reports by team, program, product, portfolio, etc.
  • Dig into delivery metrics like projections, velocities, burn rates, and cycle times
  • Integrate directly with Azure DevOps and analyze build/deployment connectors
  • Model roadmaps integrated tightly with underlying execution

Leankor is priced per team starting at $19 per member/month when billed annually. Enterprise options available as well.

Key Differences Between Major Providers

Tool Best For Key Strength Pricing
Monday.com General team projects Flexible workflows $8+/user/month
Smartsheet Knowledge workers Reporting/automation $14+/user/month
Trello Lightweight kanban Affordable scalability Free – $9.99+/user/month
Jira Software development Agile at scale $7+/user/month
LeanKit Agile teams Agile frameworks/training $15+/user/month
MeisterTask Creatives Simplicity and flexibility Free – $9+/user/month
ZenHub DevOps Native code + Kanban Free – $5+/user/month
Hygger Agile development Usability and actionability $2.99+/user/month
Kanbanchi Remote teams Focus and clarity Free – $5.50+/user/month
Planview LeanKit Salesplace dev Enterprise-grade security/compliance Call for Quote
Leankor Leadership reporting Business intelligence $19+/user/month

Understanding team dynamics, organizational culture, stage of Agile maturity, and specialized needs/processes will help determine the best Kanban tool for your group. Lean toward simpler solutions for newer teams then evaluate more sophisticated platforms as practices advance.

Getting Started With Kanban Boards

Here are a few quick tips when selecting and implementing any new Kanban solution:

Start Small, Then Scale – Avoid tackling your entire organization at once. Pick a single team and gradually expand from there. Jumping straight to a complex board often backfires.

Don’t Overcomplicate Workflow – Limit columns to essential steps only. Too many columns slow movement and obscure visibility. Add more only when absolutely necessary.

Focus on Flow – Optimizing the smooth flow of cards left-to-right should remain the priority over strictly doing Kanban “by the book”

Let Metrics Guide Decisions – Analytics and cycle times indicate how well your processes actually work in reality. Let data – not assumptions – drive changes

Automate Repeatable Work – Any mundane task that can be automated, should be automated as quickly as possible to keep team members focused on core goals

Review Regularly with the Team – Schedule to timebox regular opportunities for the team to review board performance and identify any potential improvements

Implementing an online Kanban solution can significantly improve project visibility, team collaboration, and work prioritization. But choosing the right software based on your organization’s unique needs and environment is crucial. Hopefully this breakdown of the leading providers gives some helpful guidance. Good luck with your search and digital transformation!