Wondering how to create a Kanban board in Excel?
A Kanban board gives you a full picture of your workflow and can help improve team productivity. Most importantly, it stops you from splurging on sticky notes. 💸
And while creating a Kanban board in Excel is possible, let’s find out if you should actually go for it.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Kanban is, the steps to create a Kanban board in Excel, and some handy templates. We’ll also go over its limitations and highlight a better alternative to MS Excel Kanban boards.
What Is Kanban?
Want to learn about Agile project management?
Check out our Agile project management ultimate guide.
You don’t even have to be an Agile team!
Any team with a goal to deliver fast and efficient results can really benefit from Kanban.
Now let’s break it down:
The Kanban method mainly needs two things, Kanban boards and Kanban cards.
How does it work?
The Kanban cards are work items that move through a process you visualize on the Kanban board. Each work item goes through stages like to-do, in-progress, and done.
The stages can differ for different industries and departments. In fact, you can check out the different versions of Kanban boards in our article.
And what makes the Kanban system unique is that it pushes you to complete the task at hand before moving on to the next one.
This way, you’re not drowning yourself in a long ‘to-do’ or ‘in-progress’ list.
Instead, you’ll have a longer ‘done’ list! 📄
The Kanban method’s benefits are pretty cool too. It:
- Promotes work transparency through workflow and process visualization
- Enables continuous improvement and collaboration
- Keeps your workload in check with Work In Progress or WIP limits
- Is flexible and suits all kinds of industries/workflows, including software development, inventory management, etc.
Want to learn how to use Kanban for project management?
Let’s now dive into learning how to build a Kanban board!
4 Steps To Create A Kanban Board In Excel
If you want to implement Kanban in Excel, here are four simple steps to create a Microsoft Excel Kanban board:
Step 1: Prepare your Excel workbook
Open a new Excel file to set up your workbook and add two Excel sheets or tabs.
Name the first sheet ‘Kanban Board’ and the second one as ‘Kanban Cards.’
Step 2: Create workflow columns
A typical Kanban board has three stages in a workflow: ‘To-do,’ ‘In-progress,’ and ‘Done.’
Create three sections in the ‘Kanban Board’ tab and ensure that they are of the same width and have enough space to add your Kanban cards.
For example, we’ve created the ‘To-do’ section with a width of three Excel columns.
Merge the first row of the selected three columns and name the cell ‘To-do.’
Repeat the process to create the ‘In-progress’ and ‘Done’ sections.
Then, format a column (in any color you prefer) between each section to separate the statuses. Your Kanban sheet or ‘Kanban board’ tab should look something like this:
Remember, you can always add more work status columns, depending on your workflow.
Step 3: Create Kanban cards or task cards
Now that your Kanban board is ready, you need Kanban cards.
Those are the cards you’ll move from ‘to-do’ to ‘done’ and feel fantastic about crushing it.
To make them, go to the ‘Kanban Cards’ tab in your Excel sheet (it’s the second tab you made) and create three task cards.
Ensure they have the same width (three Excel columns) as the ‘Kanban Board’ tab’s workflow status sections. This makes it easy for you to copy-paste the task cards onto your Kanban board.
For this example, each task card will have:
- A width of three Excel columns
- And a length of eight Excel rows
Once you have selected the required cells for a card, click on the ‘Merge Across’ option, as shown below.
Fill the task cards in different colors; we leave it up to you.
- One can represent ‘standard tasks’ (a card type that contains low-medium priority tasks)
- The second can denote ‘other tasks’ (a card type that contains personal to-dos or unplanned tasks)
Make the third task card red so that it can indicate high priority.
Once done, determine what fields you wish to add to your cards.
In our example, we’ll add these five fields:
- Task title
- Space for task description
- Due date
- Time estimate
How do you add these fields?
Just type them into each card, and that should do it.
Step 4: Start using the Kanban board
You’re all set!
All that’s left to do is start using the Kanban board you successfully created on Excel.
How to use it?
Based on your task, copy and paste the required Kanban card in the correct workflow status column in the Kanban board tab. Then, fill in the relevant details in the blank task card template.
Edit the cards each time you need to add a new task to the task board.
To move them from one status column to the next, just cut and paste them.
That’s it. You’ve finally learned how to create a Kanban board in Excel! 🙌
Phew! Tiring, right?
However, there’s a way you can entirely skip creating an Excel Kanban board from scratch.
You can use an Excel Kanban board template!
3 Kanban Board Templates For Excel
Here are three downloadable Kanban board templates that’ll help you get started right away:
1. Kanban cumulative flow diagram template
Here’s an excellent Kanban Excel template to visualize project progress.
The cumulative flow diagram can help you identify any potential roadblocks in the project. It can also double as a Kanban dashboard Excel template for you.
Download this Kanban cumulative flow diagram Excel template.
2. Personal Kanban board template
Here’s another sticky note inspired Kanban Excel template download option for you.
Use this simple and pretty template to manage personal tasks efficiently.
Download this personal Kanban board Excel template.
3. Withdrawal Kanban card template Excel
Ideal for a manufacturing process, this template helps you visualize a product’s movement within a system.
Download this withdrawal Kanban card template.
You can Google ‘Kanban template Excel’ to find more options on the web, including an automated Kanban Excel template, Agile project management template, and more.
3 Limitations Of Kanban Boards In Excel
Using Excel to adopt Kanban workflow management is like texting via email.
It’s possible but slow, inconvenient, and makes no sense. 🤦
1. No workflow capabilities
Kanban method = better workflow.
That means a Kanban board should have the abilities to:
- Add assignees
- Set priorities
- Set time estimates
- And more!
Can you do all that on an Excel Kanban board?
All these aspects can just be data mentioned in your Kanban Excel spreadsheet.
2. Lacks essential functionality and reliability
Excel isn’t exactly designed to implement Kanban.
For starters, you can’t drag and drop items on your Kanban board, an essential feature of nearly any other Kanban tool.
And to top it, not every Excel Kanban template on the internet is reliable.
There’s no guarantee that a free Kanban board Excel template will work for your project’s specific needs.
You could be on the ninth page of Google and still barely find any templates that are easy to download and edit.
3. The mobile experience isn’t user friendly
Ever tried opening a spreadsheet on your mobile phone?
Sure, it works.
But just try editing an Excel spreadsheet on your mobile.
As Excel data cells are too small, you’ll have to zoom in and out to make edits.
When you zoom in, you can’t see the rest of the data, and when you zoom out, you’re stuck with tiny cells again. 🤦♀️
Feeling annoyed already?
Imagine doing that every time you have to add data or make changes! 😓
Having second thoughts about Kanban boards in Excel?
Create Effortless Kanban Boards With ClickUp
ClickUp is your ever-reliable side-kick when it comes to project management. And we mean from start to finish.
From brainstorming a project idea to completing multiple projects and tasks on time, ClickUp is here for you every step of the way.
And most importantly, ClickUp is the only Kanban tool you’ll need!
Our Board view is the ultimate Kanban view. You can use it to implement the Kanban method with its convenient drag and drop interface.
To add the Board view, just click on + in the Task views bar, and you’ll find the option to do so.
Use the Board view to:
- Visualize your workflow
- See all your Kanban boards in one place
- Customize workflow statuses per your industry
- Quickly create and Assign tasks
- Set Priorities
- Make bulk changes
- And so much more
ClickUp’s Board view also lets you set Work In Progress or WIP limit.
The WIP limit is core to the Kanban method. It creates a restriction on the number of work items that can exist in each Kanban column or stage.
This way, you don’t overload your team with work, which could hamper their productivity or quality.
You can even add Cover Images to your task cards to make them pretty!
But wait… the Board view is just one of the many views ClickUp offers!
You also get:
- List view: offers a high-level overview of all your tasks with flexible sorting, grouping, and filtering options
- Gantt Chart view: lets you plan and schedule projects, manage task Dependencies, view Milestones, etc.
- Calendar view: lets you plan, schedule, and manage resources on a calendar. You can also sync the calendar with Outlook, Google, and Apple
- Table view: lets you turn your work into a table format. Ideal for viewing extensive data at once
This project management software and project planner has many other useful features that you’ll love.
Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store for you:
- Custom Status Template: templates for personal organization and department processes, including marketing, development, etc.
- Nested Subtasks: create sub-items for your subtasks
- Slash Commands: create Tasks, Assign Comments, set Priorities, etc. quickly without using your mouse
- Docs: create and share documents that you can edit in real-time with others
- Task Checklists: create simple to-do lists using Checklists. You can even template them
- Dashboards: create a dashboard to gain all kinds of insights and reports using Cumulative Flow, Velocity, Burnup, and Burndown chart
- Time Estimates: forecast task durations and creates accurate project timelines
- Integrations: tons of integrations with apps like Jira, Box, Microsoft Teams, etc.
- Offline Mode: work without the internet. Your tasks will sync as soon as you get a connection
The Right Way To Excel At Kanban?
Creating personal Kanban Excel boards can be useful if you don’t mind all the manual trouble. 🙄
Most importantly, in Excel, you’re not working with a Kanban board.
You’re simply working with a spreadsheet.
Why do that when you’ve got powerful dedicated online Kanban board tools like ClickUp?
All for free!
Get ClickUp for free today and do things the Kanban way!
Questions? Comments? We're here for you 24/7 at email@example.com!