5 Best Kanban Software Apps For 2021

5 Best Kanban Software Apps For 2021.

Looking for free Kanban software apps?

Kanban can easily pass off as a dance form. 

After all, it’s committed to making things look great and ensuring that things move in a neatly ordered rhythm. 

Move over Can-Can!💃

The Kanban methodology makes it easy to streamline your collaboration and effortlessly manage your tasks.

And when you can enjoy all that for free, it’s a sweet deal, right?

In this article, we’ll explain what Kanban methodology is, its benefits, and the five best free Kanban software apps.

What Is Kanban?

Kanban is a method of visualizing your workflow in order to boost productivity.

Modern-day teams use it to manage tasks and to implement Agile strategies.

But what does ‘Kanban’ mean?

Kanban is a Japanese term that means billboard or sign. 

Toyota started managing tasks and saving time by using this billboard-based system in the 1940s. This Kanban system helped the factory save time and deliver quality outcomes.

What to learn more about Kanban

Check out our article on Kanban project management.

So what’s a Kanban board?

A Kanban board is a physical (or virtual) board where you visualize your workflow.

A typical Kanban board consists of two things:

  • Kanban cards that represent tasks or action items
  • Columns that define project stages such as ‘to-do,’ ‘in progress,’ and ‘done.’
Kanban board with cards

How does it work?

Each of these columns has backlogs. 

And unless you complete priority one, you can’t move on to the next task. 

What good does that do?

It ensures that you focus on the task in progress and complete it successfully before moving on to the next task. This way, you’re not trying to work on too many tasks that cut into your productivity.

So if you’re bad at multitasking, cheer up. 

Somebody invented a methodology declaring multitasking is no good!

two women raising a toast while one says we need to be friends

5 Best Kanban Software Apps

Here are the best free Kanban tools or software apps you’ll need for managing your tasks.

1. ClickUp

clickup devices

ClickUp is the world’s highest-rated project management software used by highly productive teams.

ClickUp’s Kanban board view is all you’ll need to manage your work.

Let’s take a look at how ClickUp’s key features that’ll help you create an efficient Kanban workflow:

ClickUp key features

A. Adopt Kanban with the Board view

If you live and breathe Agile project management, you need ClickUp’s Board view.

ClickUp’s Board view is a Kanban board that’s super-easy to use thanks to the drag and drop functionality.

Each Board is arranged in columns that consist of Task Cards. 

You have the option to customize the vertical columns and even group them based on their Status, Priority, Tags, Assignees, etc.

ClickUp Board view formatted as a Kanban board

Don’t forget to make bulk edits and save time using the Multitask Toolbar!

B. Promote efficiency with a WIP Limit

Overloading your Agile team with work is never a good idea.

ClickUp lets you set Work In Progress Limit or WIP Limit in its Board view to make your Kanban approach a success.

What does that do?

It lets you visualize your work capacity and indicates when you’re above your workload limits.

ClickUp board view
C. Distribute work with Assignees

Need to work alone or with a bunch of people? ClickUp lets you assign tasks to a single person, multiple people, and even Teams.

ClickUp user being assigned a task
D. Define your workflow with Custom Task Statuses

Every team has a unique workflow where tasks go through different stages. They can be ‘done’ or ‘not done’ or ‘in approval,’ ‘in progress,’ ‘under review,’ etc.

With ClickUp’s Custom Task Statuses, you can add whatever task status you desire, depending on your organization or department’s workflow!

ClickUp custom task status window
E. Only see relevant information with Filtering

ClickUp offers advanced Filtering and Sorting options, so you only view what you need. This saves time when looking for information. 🔍

Filter your task lists based on:

how to filter ClickUp Board view

Find yourself reusing a filter? 

Just save it to quickly add it in the future!

F. Monitor performance and progress with Dashboards

Create an overview of all the happenings in your Workspace with Dashboards. 

It’s THE place for all your Reports and Insights.

ClickUp Dashboard with multiple widgets enabled

If you use Agile project management, then you’ll love ClickUp’s Sprint Widgets.

Using these Widgets, you can view:

burndown chart
G. View work your way with Custom views

Have a preference on how you view your work? Then you’ll love ClickUp’s Custom views.

The Board view is for Kanban fanatics, but there are other options for people who prefer a different approach. 

Here are some of the views ClickUp offers:

If you ever get bored with your current view, don’t worry. 

All it takes is a click to switch between views!

ClickUp views list
H. Schedule repetitive tasks with Recurring Tasks

Have tasks that you need to do again and again? Use Recurring Tasks to schedule such routine action items and never miss them.

Whether you want the tasks to recur daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, ClickUp has every possible option.

ClickUp user setting up a recurring task
I.  Get things done with zero efforts using Automation

What if we told you, you can sit back and relax while your project management tool does your work?

Use Automations to create combinations of Triggers and Actions to automate tasks in ClickUp.

ClickUp user setting up an automation

ClickUp Automation also supports workflows with third-party software such as Calendly, GitHub, and Bugsnag.

J. Enjoy tons of features with the Free Forever Plan

ClickUp stands apart from other Kanban apps because it offers a free plan that’s super feature-rich. And it’s Free Forever!

Here are some of the features you don’t miss out on if you opt for the free version:

What’s more? The paid plans start at just $5/month and can accommodate teams of all sizes. Just imagine what they can do for you!

2. Trello

Trello Landing Page

It’s no shocker that Trello is on this list. It’s a great free personal Kanban software solution that’s widely known.

Simply put, Trello made the Kanban board quite the buzz in the project management world.

However, a striking drawback is that the Trello free version is very limited. 

To bring in more useful features, you’ll have to upgrade to their paid packages or rely on paid Power Ups. 

Note: you can import Trello tasks, boards, members, archived cards, and even attachments to ClickUp.

Planning on switching from Trello? Learn about best Trello alternatives.

Trello key features

  • Unlimited Trello cards: use the cards to create tasks and ideas
  • 2-factor authentication: add an extra layer of protection during login
  • Butler: lets you automate your workflow with triggers and commands

3. Jira

Jira landing page

Jira is another big name on the list of free Kanban tools that can adapt to any large or small team.

The software is built for Scrum and Agile project management, and the Kanban boards let you visualize both tasks that are progressing well, and the tasks bottlenecking the process.

Jira is also highly customizable and excellent in issue management.

Drawbacks?

You can’t work in pairs or as a team on a single task since Jira doesn’t support multiple assignees.

For any task management tool, this should be a key feature.

woman saying that's a shame

Not so sure about Jira? Check out these best Jira alternatives and our comprehensive Jira review for more clarity.

Jira key features

  • Agile reporting: get real-time insights and performance reports on your team
  • Customizable workflow: create a workflow that fits your organization or team the best
  • Backlog: view a to-do list of backlogs or tasks you’re yet to do

4. Toggl Plan

Toggl Plan landing page

Next up is Toggl Plan. 

It’s a free task management and Kanban tool by Toggl.

You can add task cards to your task boards with detailed descriptions, start dates and due dates, time estimates, and more.

So it’s perfect?

Yes, if you have a small team of five or less. 

If you’re larger than that, Toggl Plan isn’t the right free Kanban tool for you.

You either have to fork out $8/month per user, or you have to look elsewhere.

Speaking of looking elsewhere, you’ll have to do the same if you need an offline mode or a desktop version.

Toggl Plan key features

  • Project management: create milestones, unlimited tasks, and team timelines
  • Comments and Tags: make comments addressing team members. Use tags to define the nature of tasks
  • Shared timelines: share timelines with people outside of the app with a public link

5. Zoho Project

Zoho Project landing page

Zoho Project is a cloud-based project management tool and a Kanban app from Zoho.

It can manage tasks, share documents, integrate with Google apps, and more.

However, Zoho Project doesn’t have time estimates.

There’s no way for you to set expectations or predict how long a task or project may take. Major deal breaker!

Zoho Project key features

  • Zoho integrations: integrates with other Zoho tools, including Zoho Meetings, Zoho Sprints, and Zoho CRM
  • Issue tracker: visualize your issue workflow with Kanban cards
  • Calendar: schedule meetings, create events, view tasks, and add milestones

What Are The Benefits Of Kanban Boards?

Kanban boards help in seamless workflow management, especially for Agile teams.

So let’s take a look at how these Kanban apps can benefit you.

1. Greater visibility and collaboration

In the Kanban method, your task backlog and statuses are clearly visible on the Kanban board columns. Such a crystal clear workflow leaves no space for doubts or Monday morning anxiety!

A direct perk of this clarity is effortless collaboration. 

The Kanban framework encourages real-time collaboration and full transparency when it comes to work.

How?

Anyone with access to the board or view can add comments, attachments, change progress status, etc., on a Kanban board.

When these changes and actions occur, they’re visible to others on the team, keeping them in the loop.

2. Prevents work overload

Overworking people (and their coffee machines) may sometimes get the job done. But it’s not sustainable.

This is where the Kanban approach really shines through with its Work In Progress or WIP limit.

What’s that?

The WIP limit is basically a queue limiter. Once you hit a designated number of tasks, no more tasks will come your way unless at least one task is complete or removed.

Play Your Kanban Cards Right

Adopting the Kanban method is a great option for any team looking to boost their productivity immediately.

And when it comes to the best Kanban tools, all the project management tools we mentioned will help you add the Kanban methodology into your workflow.

However, four out of five of them fall short of being the ideal tool because their free versions are inadequate.

But don’t worry.

We said four out of five, remember?

There’s one tool left, and that’s ClickUp!

With this powerful free project management software, you can enjoy not only Kanban boards but also Gantt Charts and many other features for multiple projects and task management.

So get ClickUp for free today and become the Kanban pro you always wanted to be!

man saying challenge accepted

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