A kanban-based workflow management system

View Modes

Each Wekan board has three View Modes: Lists, Calendar View, and Swimlanes. The default mode, Lists (shown in Figure 6), shows all the lists side by side, each with its own cards. Calendar View, which I'll cover later, shows the start and due dates for all active cards.

Figure 6: The default Lists view in Wekan: Each project phase has its own list (column) with individual tasks (cards), along with a WIP limit displayed below the list name.

The Swimlanes view may be unnecessary for single individuals or simple projects, but this view is essential in almost all other cases. Kanbanize.com defines swimlanes as "horizontal lines that split a kanban board into sections, [in order to] visually separate different work types on the same board and organize homogenous tasks together" [9]. In other words, if your organization has different teams that work mostly autonomously, with the same workflow but without continuous direct interactions, you can still place them on the same board by putting each team in a separate swimlane. In that way, their activities (i.e., the workload and responsibilities for each member of each team) remain as visually separated as possible. Figure 7 shows how this looks in practice inside Wekan, with swimlanes for communication and development activities.

Figure 7: Wekan swimlanes (in this example, Communication and Development) keep the work of independent teams separate but still visible at a glance.

Cards, at Last!

Wekan offers so many configuration options for cards, that at first glance the options may seem overwhelming or unnecessary (Figure 8). The Labels option lets users group and filter cards. The Received option lets you assign a start, due, and end date for each card, which you can see in the Calendar View mentioned earlier (Figure 9). You can also add comments to each card at the bottom.

Figure 8: Wekan cards have enough configuration options to make the most demanding project managers happy.
Figure 9: While Calendar View may be the least used view mode in Wekan, it will show you the start, end, and due dates for all active tasks.

Most crucial, the Description option lets you specify without ambiguities the nature of the task and when it can be considered finished. Both Checklists, which lets you attach one or more checklists to each card, and Activity, which lets you measure how much time is spent on each task, are useful but probably not essential.

A couple of options should be used with caution. The Subtasks option, which lets you assign subtasks to a task, should be monitored closely for one simple reason: If a team finds itself relying too much on subtasks, always attaching several to each card, it may be a strong sign that the overall workflow (the number of lists and swimlanes on the kanban board) needs a serious redesign. In addition, the Attachments option, which lets you attach any type of file to a card, can lead to confusion if an important document is only attached to one Wekan card and then forgotten. You can also run into problems if attachments are duplicated in a document management system, such as the SeedDMS [10].

In the card's titlebar, you'll find a link icon and a hamburger menu. The link icon lets you link a card to other cards (similar features are available to link boards or lists) to highlight the dependencies across different operations and teams. If you click on the hamburger menu in the card's titlebar, the Card Actions dialog opens (shown in Figure 10). Here you can, among other things, edit custom fields, set color, move a card around the board, use a card as a template, and eventually archive the cards.

Figure 10: The Wekan Card Actions menu allows you to further customize your project tasks.

Other Useful Features

Wekan can also generate usage reports. The most important reports are the ones that show broken (unlinked or inconsistent) cards and "orphaned" files (uploaded files that are no longer attached to existing cards) on a given board.

If you have boards from other kanban software or in plain text CSV format, you can import these boards into Wekan. To do so, click on the plus sign in the top menubar, and then click Import and follow the on-screen instructions.

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