Unless you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for kanban boards. They are probably one of the most useful tools for project management on the market today. Sure, other options are purpose-built for things like development projects (think scrum), but those are often overly complicated for projects that don’t involve developers.
SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)
That’s where kanban fits in. These boards can be used for nearly any type of project and are so simple to work with, that anyone can get up to speed with them quickly.
But some platforms make kanban boards a bit more complicated than they need to be. Take, for instance, Aha! This company has a stellar platform for development project management. Aha! isn’t just kanban. Here you’ll find Gantt charts, training dashboards, mind maps, visual roadmaps and much, much more. Aha! wants to be everything to every development team, and it shows.
Aha! offers three different products:
- Aha! Ideas–where you can crowdsource feedback, engage with your community, and analyze various trends. $39/user/month or $59/user/month.
- Aha! Roadmaps–where you can set your strategy, prioritize features and share your visual plans with teams. $59/user/month, $99/user/month or $149/workspace owner/month.
- Aha! Developer–where you can prioritize a backlog, estimate work and plan your sprints. $9/user/month or $18/user/month.
But for those who prefer to use kanban, understand that Aha! does take a bit more work to get up to speed. Fortunately, I spent a bit of time working with this solution, so I can show you how to get your first kanban board up.
What you’ll need
Aha! isn’t free, but does have a 30-day trial period and you don’t have to use a credit card to enjoy the trial. Once the trial is up, you’ll have to pay the price to continue using the tool. I opted to go with the Aha! Roadmaps for my kanban boards but you should examine each to see which would best fit your needs.
Let’s get started.
How to create your kanban board in Aha!
The first thing you’ll do is sign into your Aha! Roadmaps account. You will find yourself on the default Gantt chart page (Figure A).
To reach the kanban board section, click the Activities tab and then click Board (Figure B).
Once in the kanban board (Figure C), you can start building it to fit your needs.
This is where it starts to veer away from the standard. In Aha! kanban boards, each column is called a Schedule. You’ll find two sample Schedules pre-built in your kanban board–Example schedule 1 and Example schedule 2. The first thing you’ll want to do is rename those Schedules. For example, my first column in the kanban boards I build is always named IDEA. To rename Example schedule 1, click the horizontal three-dot menu associated with that Schedule and then click Open Schedule Details. A sidebar will appear (Figure D), where you can customize that Schedule. Delete the original name at the top and type your new name.
In the same sidebar, you can customize the phases for the project, add comments and to-dos, and manage linked records (in the Related tab).
Once you’ve customized the Schedule. To add a new Schedule, click Add Schedule near the top and then fill in the necessary details (Figure E).
I had a bit of trouble when creating a new Schedule; it wouldn’t append to the spot after the final column. To get around that I had to allow it to live where it wanted and then rename the Schedules as needed. For whatever reason, you cannot drag and drop the Schedule order. You can, however, drag and drop activities from Schedule to Schedule.
To create a new Activity, click Add Activity and fill out the necessary details (Figure F).
There’s another interesting feature, called the Parking Lot. This is used for the Backlog. Here you can add activities that have yet to be moved onto the kanban board. Open the Parking Lot by clicking the double left-pointing arrows at the top of the right side of your window (Figure G).
Once open (Figure H), you can start adding Activities and even extra columns to manage your backlog.
And that’s the gist of using kanban boards with Aha! This platform is one of the best project management suites I’ve used in a long time. It’s complex but it’s well worth the time you’ll spend getting up to speed. If your business can afford it, Aha! is hard to beat.
Subscribe to TechRepublic’s How To Make Tech Work on YouTube for all the latest tech advice for business pros from Jack Wallen.