Experimenting with physical kanban boards

I’m a big fan of project management tools, especially bug & issue trackers. back in the day when I was leading a big development team with multiple projects and clients, we’ve implemented Jira, and with all the growing pains, in the end it was a big success.

now days, my requirements are very simple. I’ve got one project at the startup I’m working, and one pet project (actually, several pet projects, but only one at a time). and although we practice agile at work with kanban boards on jira, lately I found myself more than once jotting down my tasks on a piece of paper permanent on my desk.

I tried to think why am I doing this? and there were a lot of things that I came up with. being there on my actual desktop, they are immediately accessible to me to check what on my plate and add or remove items. no need to fire up the website and login. at a previous job, I got 4 big TVs showing all the boards on the software department open space, but it’s not that practical in my home office. also, agile requires a lot of self discipline. our boards are a mess with so many issues that renders the system unusable to me (yes, a lot should be shelved into the backlog, but that’s not my decision to make), and lastly i’m an old fashion gut that still like to use pen and paper.

I was looking around for something better. and then I was inspired by the flight progress system used by air traffic controllers (i watch a lot of “Air Crash Investigation” on NatGeo). it is basically a fancy KanBan board they use to track flight. so why not issues?

So I made a frame from scrap wood and metal rods, cut out paper strips and 3D printed some plastic holders. it look like this

so now I can add, remove and reshuffle the strips. there is one key thing I immediately noticed: there is a limit to how many strips can fit into the stand. if I have more than 9 tasks, something needs to go on the “backlog” or in my case the pile on the right hand side. if it is a good thing or not, you deside.

the biggest drawback is of course it’s size. I’ll try to think of ways to make it less bulky.

I’ll try to use it in the upcoming weeks and post my impressions.