Viewing work items with the Kanban board

The Kanban board is a way for you to visually manage work by organizing work items (cards) into columns based on status. It is similar to the taskboard, but you can set limits to the number of work items that are allowed in each column.

About this task

You can create a plan that includes the Kanban board as a predefined view, or you can create the view yourself in an existing plan.


  1. Use one of the following methods to create a Kanban board:
    • To create a plan with a predefined Kanban Board, click Plans > Sprint Kanban Board.
      Note: This option is only available in the Scrum process template.
    • To create a Kanban board in an existing project or in a project with a process template other than Scrum:
      1. From the Planned Items tab, click the down arrow next to the Edit Plan View (Edit Plan View icon) icon, and then click Create View.
      2. Type a name, such as Kanban Board.
      3. In the Display field, select Kanban Board.

    You can configure the Kanban board in the Options, Column Display, and Card Display columns.

  2. You can re-order the columns and subcolumns in Taskboard and plan view by dragging them. You can re-order subcolumns only within the same parent column. When the drag and drop is allowed, you can see a black vertical line when you drag the column across the same row. No indicator appears when the drop is not allowed:
    Reorder columns

    You cannot movehe first column, Plan Items; it is the anchor column that remains fixed.

  3. Click the Options tab if it is not already open.

    The Kanban Board has predefined options. You can modify these settings.

    Options tab for the Kanban board.

  4. Click the Column Display tab.

    Column Display tab for the Kanban board.

    The default for the Column Display tab is one column per state. You can configure a taskboard, so that one or more state groups are collapsed to a single column, by deselecting the states in that state group. If you drag and drop a card from a different column on to a collapsed state group, and only one state in that group is a valid transition, the card is assigned that state. If there is more than one valid state transition, the first valid state in the group is selected.

    You can configure the default states and state groups in the Taskboard and Kanban Board plan views. On your project area configuration page, select Planning > Default State Groups & States. If you select or clear a state or a state group in a plan view, that selection overrides the default configuration in new and existing plan views. When you select a state or a state group on this page, you can override the selection in the process configuration source:
    Default state groups and states

    You can set limits to how many work items are allowed in each column.

    Edit the work-in-progress (WIP) limits:

    1. In the Limit Work in Progress By field, choose complexity, count, or estimate (hours) for the measurement.
    2. Then, determine the WIP limits of each column by clicking the Work in Progress Limits field in each column and typing a number.

      When you drag work items into the appropriate columns, the limits are tracked in the column headers. The tracking box changes color as you add or remove work items. When you are at or below capacity for the suggested limit for a column, the box is green. When you are over the WIP limit, the color changes to red.

    3. In the Strictness field, choose how to enforce these limits.

      A warning allows the column limits to be exceeded but displays a warning message in the column header; an error prevents the action if the column limits are exceeded.

    4. To configure the Kanban board column layout, first select the columns to display in the Columns (State Groups) row, and then select the subcolumns in the Subcolumns (States) row.
      Tip: You can collapse columns directly from the Kanban board by moving the mouse pointer over the column header and clicking the Collapse State arrow.
  5. Click the Card Display tab.

    Edit the card sizes and attributes:

    1. Click Add Attribute to add attributes to the card. Use the Actions column to reorder or delete the attributes.
    2. Select the card sizes for the attributes to display.
    3. Select a default card size.
    4. When you are finished editing, click OK.
    Tip: In Taskboard and Kanban views, you can identify a blocked work item directly on a card by checking Blocked and typing a comment into the text field. The Blocked attribute is predefined in the Scrum and SAFe templates.

    Kanban Card Display column.

    After you save the plan, blocked cards are displayed in red, which overrides any other color tag defined in the plan:

    Blocked card displayed in red

    Note: You must unblock a blocked card before you can drag it to another column.
    Important: You can enable the Blocked attribute for cards in project templates that do not already have this feature configured. In the Eclipse client, open the project from the Team Artifacts view. Click the Process Configuration tab, and then click Project Configuration > Configuration Data > Planning > General. In the Activate blocked cards on Kanban and Taskboard views section, click Enable Blocked Cards.
  6. Drag a card to another column.

    Kanban transition state

    When you move cards by dragging them on the board, the valid transitions in the workflow are displayed as green columns. This makes it easy to identify where the selected card can be dropped on the board. When you drag cards over the other columns on the taskboard, messages provide feedback explaining why the card cannot be dropped in that location. This message occurs when the workflow does not support moving an item from its current state to the state under the cursor or when the WIP limit is reached.

    You can now select the resolution when you drop a work item on a Taskboard or Kanban Board, if a resolution is defined for the target state:
    Edit resolution in kanban board
    Tip: Work items that are excluded from the plan are also excluded from the WIP calculation, which means that the number of items that are reported as "in progress" now matches whatever you choose to show on your board.
    Important: When creating an item in a board view, if the state of the newly created item is not shown in the Kanban board, then the planning work item editor is shown. If you are creating a child of an unsaved parent, the save button in the editor is hidden. This is because you cannot save the child with an unsaved parent. You need to save the parent item first or save the plan, and the child item is saved too.
    You can move a work item from one lane to another by dragging and dropping the work item. This changes the state of the work item to the state of the new lane. If the state changes to Resolved or Closed, a dialogue appears asking you to choose the resolution:
    Choose resolution
  7. You can manage and modify work item assignments. You can also change the state and at the same time, update the resolution of a work item.

    Change work item state and resolution