Back to blog

10 Kanban Board Examples for Multiple Industries and How to Use Them Effectively

Explore 10 practical Kanban board examples from various industries, learn what makes them effective (or not), and apply this to your own business.

Motion Blog
at Motion
Sep 19, 2023
Table of contents

Unsure how to make a Kanban board work for your team?

When you’re trying to adopt a new project management method, it’s not easy to start from scratch. It’s not always clear how you should map out the different stages of your process on the board.

If you’re struggling to visualize what this would look like in your team, don’t worry. We’ve handpicked a list of 10 Kanban board examples that showcase how you can apply Kanban across industries, teams, and use cases.

Important concepts to understand before you start on your Kanban board

Before we dive in and break down different Kanban board examples and use cases, let’s cover some of the key concepts and principles of Kanban. Understanding them will help you choose the right board for your team and adjust it to suit your needs better.

Designed to improve your workflow — if you use it correctly

Kanban can help you visualize, manage, and improve the flow of your tasks — if you use it correctly. How you design and use your Kanban board has a big impact on its efficacy.

For best results, use swimlanes — horizontal categories like teams or projects — and custom columns tailor-made for your process. That makes it a lot easier to identify bottlenecks in your workflows.

Elements of a Kanban board illustrated

‎Going beyond the standard three columns is more common than sticking with “to do,” “in progress,” and “done.”

Make Kanban fit your process, not the other way around

An important aspect of Kanban is the idea of incremental improvements. That also goes for when you first start using a Kanban board — you shouldn't try to force your process to fit neatly into the board.

Instead, you should make the board fit your process. Then, you can gradually perfect your process and the board over time.

Task pulling and “work in progress limits”

Unlike a "push" system to project management, where tasks are planned for (or pushed into) a given time period, Kanban is a "pull" system. Here, tasks are pulled into the workflow from a backlog based on capacity (known as the work in progress, or WIP, limit), the real-time situation, and the latest priorities.

So, how do you stop your team from going all over the place? You set limits to help them focus. Implement a "work in progress limit" to limit the number of cards (tasks) in the working columns ("in progress" or "doing").

The last thing you want is a team trying to multitask and making no progress across several goals.

Note that even though you "pull tasks from a backlog" in Scrum, the pre-designed Scrum sprints make it more of a push system because tasks are planned into sprints before the work begins. (For more details on their differences and similarities, read our guide to Kanban vs. Scrum.)

10 practical Kanban board examples

Now that you have some background on Kanban, let’s take a look at ten Kanban board examples you can easily mimic for your business.

1. Standard Kanban board example

The standard Kanban board has just three columns for arranging your tasks: to do, doing, and done.

These simple boards are most suitable for managing a straightforward working process — like the weekly tasks of a small sales team that doesn’t have a long approval workflow.

 Example of a standard Kanban board

Typical use cases:

  • Basic task management for small teams.
  • A way to structure continual improvement efforts for a small company.

Best practices:

  • Make sure to implement WIP (work in progress) limits — limiting the number of tasks in progress. One standard WIP limit is to add one to the number of team members. So, if there are six team members, you should never have more than seven tasks in progress.
  • Task cards should be as specific as possible. The example above describes not just a task or goal but also the quantity, “3 sales emails.”

2. Design agency workflow Kanban board example

If you want to create a Kanban flow based on an existing process in your design team, trying to squeeze it into three stages isn’t a great idea.

Kanban works best when your Kanban board is the visual representation of your actual process. You need to create a board that matches your approval workflow like this:

Kanban board example for design agencies

‎You can use a Kanban board template to do this, but remember to adjust it so it reflects your actual workflow.

Typical use cases:

  • Control creative approval workflows like design or content creation.

Best practices:

  • Include stages for everything from creative briefs to reviews at every stage of design and production.
  • Set clear assignments for review columns (and automated notifications if using an app).
  • Use color coding or priority scores to highlight priority tasks.

3. HR Kanban board example

This Kanban board example highlights the different workflow stages of the hiring process:

Kanban board example for HR and hiring

‎It’s a great way to visualize the hiring process, from applicant review to final interviews and onboarding.

Kanban boards are an excellent tool for most operations teams (as seen in the other examples below).

Typical use cases:

  • Manage hiring at companies to create a streamlined process for applicants and improve the hiring experience.

Best practices:

  • Make sure to assign clear responsibilities (by column).
  • Use swimlanes to separate hires by team/department (or to highlight certain high-priority hires, like for an urgent project).

4. Customer support Kanban board example

You can also manage customer support issues using a Kanban board, like this:

Example Kanban board for customer support teams

‎A basic board might include status stages in progress, external issues waiting on third parties, and solved issues. It makes it easy to keep track of the status of all support tickets — especially high-priority ones.

You can (and should) expand beyond this as needed to suit your own customer support process.

Typical use cases:

  • Customer support and customer success teams.

Best practices:

  • Use swimlanes to separate high-priority customer issues from lower-priority ones — for example, clients who pay for a certain resolution speed (SLA).
  • Color-code items based on the type of issue to help the right people identify their most urgent tasks. Red could be billing or failed deliveries. Blue could be technical issues, for example.

5. Software development Kanban board example

For a software development team, a Kanban board will probably involve code reviews, testing, and scheduling for deployment.

Software development kanban board example

‎The complexity of the board will depend on how complex (pun intended) your development process is.

Typical use cases:

  • Managing the software development workflow and implementing Agile principles during the process.

Best practices:

  • Accurately represent your actual development process (with all status stages).
  • Assign clear responsibilities by columns, swimlane, or tasks (to clearly show who does what).

6. Tech support and bug tracking Kanban board example

If you want to manage your tech support or debugging process with Kanban, it might look something like this:

Example of a Kanban board used by tech support teams

‎Here, swimlanes separate critical from high-priority and other issues. That makes it easy for your team to know what items they should work on first.

Typical use cases:

  • Tech support to manage issues and improve the IT management process.
  • Bug management.

Best practices:

  • Use swimlanes to separate high-priority reports/issues from lower-priority ones.
  • Use color coding or tags to ensure each issue gets to the right person.

7. Marketing Kanban board example

To help your marketing team effectively manage their campaigns, you can use this board as inspiration:

Example of a Kanban board used by marketing teams

‎In this board example, swimlanes represent different marketing channels — PPC, content marketing, social media, and video. It provides a high-level view for marketing managers who want insight into the overall progress across channels.

If you have separate “sub-teams” that focus on each channel, you can also create individual boards that get more granular with tasks.

Typical use cases:

  • High-level campaign management across channels.
  • Campaign planning and ideation.
  • Managing the approval workflow within an agency or team setting.

Best practices:

  • Use swimlanes to separate channels (or for smaller teams, you can use swimlanes for each employee and their responsibilities).

8. Kanban board example for accounting

Kanban can also help you manage your company’s finances and operations. For example, you could use something like this billing and purchasing board:

Example of a Kanban board used by accounting teams

‎With an overview of each phase of orders or invoices, your team can quickly work through accounts payable/receivable tasks.

Plus, you can easily search the backlog during tax season or if you notice any issues. Every company will have a different process with different requirements, so remember to adjust the board to suit your needs.

Typical use cases:

  • Keeping track of different invoices and purchase expenses across each stage of the accounts payable/receivable process.

Best practices:

  • For larger teams, use swimlanes to separate finances and deliverables by departments, teams, and budgets.

9. Product development Kanban board example

To correctly manage the product development process, you need a board with columns for each process stage:

Example of a Kanban board for product development

‎In this example, we’ve included concept, initial proposal, design review, prototyping, market testing, production, and more. If you have a less complex process in a lightly regulated market (like entertainment), remove unnecessary phases.

Typical use cases:

  • Product development and management.

Best practices:

  • Use separate Kanban boards for high-level planning and managing the implementation.

10. Product roadmap (high-level) Kanban board example

A Kanban board dedicated to high-level product planning or long-term strategy for your company can help you source great ideas to drive lasting change.

Product roadmap Kanban board example

‎Because this board is designed with project managers, company owners, or executives in mind, it doesn't specify individual tasks but rather the larger goals.

Typical use cases:

  • High-level planning on which strategic initiatives to implement as a company.

Best practices:

  • Separate quarters with swimlanes to highlight which goals are a priority in the short term.

How to develop the best Kanban Board for your team

Even though we’ve covered a wide variety of use cases, chances are the best Kanban board for your team wasn’t included in the list.

According to the 2022 Kanban report, only 21% of companies use the basic “to do, doing, done” Kanban boards.

‎The rest have tailored the boards to their needs, like using multiple workflow steps or building custom boards based on their services.

How can you do this successfully for your own company? Follow these three steps:

Map out your current workflow

Hold a workshop (that includes regular team members) and create a realistic workflow diagram.

It should accurately represent every important phase in your process, from backlog to finished production.

Even if you’re only managing recurring team tasks, consider their natural stages and map them out.

Create columns that match the significant stages in the process

To transition from a diagram to a working Kanban board, you can use a physical board with sticky notes or an online whiteboard tool. Simply create a column for each major stage in your mapped process.

Once you have this model board, you can replicate it in the project management tool you plan to use.

And why not stick with the whiteboard? An online tool lets you give everyone real-time access to project status regardless of location. (If you have remote team members, you want your entire team to have access.) It also lets you tap into automation to make your and your team’s jobs easier.

Use swimlanes to separate priority levels or categories

If you’ve looked at multiple examples in the list, you’ve already seen how useful swimlanes can be.

If you have clients or tasks with obviously different priority levels, take advantage of swimlanes. It makes it clear to your team what to work on at any given moment.

You can also separate different teams, giving you a better overview of individual progress and bottlenecks.

To be an effective proactive manager, you need first to understand where the issues lie.

Want a simple Kanban board that automatically schedules tasks for your team?

Ready to experiment with Kanban for your team? Motion makes it easy to set up a Kanban board with tags, task assignments, deadlines, priorities, and more.

Kanban board view in the Motion app

‎But what makes Motion shine is that it automatically schedules tasks for your employees or team members. Our algorithm considers due dates, priorities, and more to schedule tasks around fixed appointments like sales calls and meetings.

Basically, it ensures that every team member has the optimal calendar for productivity at any given time.

Plus, if something comes up, like a client call, Motion will automatically juggle more flexible tasks, like writing, to make room in your calendar.

Want to create your first Kanban board and help your whole team get 25% more done without working overtime? Try our 7-day free trial today.

Motion Blog
Written by Motion Blog