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Kanban boards for project management: comparing Microsoft Planner and Jira Software

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Anastasia Sarana
Posted by Anastasia Sarana
December 22, 2021

Kanban is a system of setting tasks and organizing work processes for more effective goals achievement. This is one of the Agile methodologies, and its core value is transparency in work. 

Kanban core values

Kanban helps to establish current processes and not overload the team. It is based on four principles:

  1. Start with what you have now. There is no need to wait for some significant milestone or the arrival of something new. Start today and change gradually, improving your product and development tools.
  2. Change must be a process of evolution. Making changes consistently and in small batches, global shocks are always a risk for the team and the product.
  3. Respect the existing order. Those roles and responsibilities that have developed historically, it is necessary to accept and make changes point-by-point.
  4. Encourage initiative. Everyone in the team should be able to suggest improvements to improve efficiency. The collective mind can achieve the best.

Also, Kanban offers several useful practices that will help achieve the desired result when using it. Modern Kanban is a set of special tools that forms a system and does not tolerate neglect in underusing at least part of it.

Why use Kanban

Today, the principles of Kanban are used in many fields and industries. The system is popular in the IT companies, digital sphere, and marketing, finance, HR, and media.


An Atlassian Expert Aleks Yenin, principal Polontech consultant, states that the main advantage of Kanban is its simplicity and the possibility of implementation into the business at any stage of development.


In general, the methodology is suitable for any business where the process of creating a product can be divided into stages with a clear sequence of tasks (a task within one project goes through the same stages).

What is a Kanban board

The Kanban board allows you to bring the process of completing tasks into visual perception. This approach helps to see the entire workflow, clearly allocate tasks, and direct all efforts to “weak” zones.

It has several columns that represent different stages of the workflow. The cards in the columns are specific tasks-steps. The department/employee is responsible for each stage. The cards move through the columns according to their status.

At the same time, you can create the columns according to your typical workflow. For example, these may be the stages of the production process (“prototyping”, “design”, “development”, “testing”) or the task status (“to do”, “in progress”, “under review”, “done”).


There’s also a limit for WIP – work in progress for each column. It means that the team can’t start doing many tasks at the same time, they should finish tasks they started earlier, otherwise, the speed of working on tasks may decrease.  


This allows you to prevent overloads and downtime. So, teams are constantly balancing between the backlog limit and the throughput rate of the system. The best practices of running a Kanban board are based on simple components – discussion, balance and interaction.

Working with a Kanban board:

  • Don’t forget to move the cards on the board according to the movement of the task.
  • All tasks should be on the board and have priority on completion.
  • Use the optimal number of statuses on the board.
  • Each team should have its own board.
  • Determine the optimal number of tasks in each status (if there are 100 cards on the board, it will lose its visibility and simplicity).

Choosing tools for Kanban boards

To maintain a Kanban board, you can use any of the popular services, but it is better to make a choice based on the tasks.

Microsoft Planner

Example of Kanban board in Microsoft Planner

It’s an easy-to-use team-based tool for project management, available in Office 365 suite. It’s flexible enough to use in different teams. 


It uses Kanban boards to system the tasks and provide detailed information about each task. There is also a personal planner viewer.


To start, you should create a new Plan, where you’ll add new tasks. Each card can be colored individually, set a deadline, add attachments, and so on. Since Microsoft Planner is integrated into Office 365, these attachments may be Microsoft Office files that you and your teammates are already working on. The planner also has a built-in chat to discuss all your plans.

Jira Software

Kanban board in Jira Software

To maintain a Kanban board, you can use any of the popular services, but it is better to make a choice based on the tasks.


Jira is used by both large companies like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Audi, Visa, Nestle and others, as well as startups companies and thousands of teams all around the world.


Jira Software is a flexible issue tracking tool that helps teams plan, manage, and report on their work. The users of the tool will vary depending on which package is used. 

The flexible and scalable configuration of Jira also allows you to support a wide range of industries, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing and information technology.


By creating a Kanban project in Jira Software, you get a ready-made workflow with the columns Backlog, Selected for Development, In Progress, and Done.


When adding tasks to the board, it may be advisable to accompany them with a priority label. Then, when prioritizing, the most important tasks will be visible immediately. By default, tracks are added to the board in kanban: one for items with high priority, which are accompanied by the Expedite label (Urgent), the other for everything else.

Comparing Jira Software and Microsoft Planner: which is better? 

Both tools are good choices for simple project management in any teams that use Kanban methodology for work, and they both can be used by freelancers, small and mid-size businesses, and large enterprises.

Microsoft planner key features: 

  • Native to Microsoft environment, and available for anyone who has a subscription to Office 365 plans;
  • Web-based, available for Android, iPhone, and Windows mobile users;
  • Planner integrates with every application of Microsoft;
  • Can be used by individuals;
  • Customizable Kanban boards and a dynamic planner hub module;
    customer support only through raising tickets;
  • The price starts from $5, no free trial available.

Jira Software key features:

  • Original software for bug tracking and Agile project management with integrated boards for Scrum and Kanban projects;
  • Web-based, available for Android, iPhone, and Windows mobile users;
    Jira integrates with more than 3,000 business applications like GitHub, Salesforce, Zendesk;
  • Customizable workflows and dashboards;
  • Thousands of add-ons available on the Atlassian Marketplace;
  • Several options to provide customer support including email, live support, tickets, and voice calls;
  • Starting price is $7 per month, with a free trial available.
    Cloud service available, that is completely free for up to 10 users.

Building Agile teams

Kanban is great if your team is looking to be more Agile, and in Polontech, we know how to do it better.


For our clients, we choose Jira Software because it fits different teams and makes it possible to customize workflows and dashboards, making them as powerful as your team needs them to be. When integrating Jira Software for Kanban projects, we create a brand new infrastructure to provide you with what you need for a smart and useful working approach.

See how we build Agile teams: 

  • Create a new infrastructure based on Jira Software and other Atlassian products;
  • Move your data and teams to Jira Software from any service software;
  • Customize Jira and infrastructure according to your requirements.

By this, your team becomes: 


Collaborative. Developers, product owners, users, and executives cooperate to release faster.

Self-managed. No micromanagement and complex approvals with the culture of mutual responsibility.

Values feedback. Teams transform feedback to value and level-up cross-functional expertise.

Conclusion

Kanban boards are a form of visual project management with which you can plan projects and workflows using columns and cards.


Software with Kanban boards is often used in management systems such as Scrum and Agile. It is great for Agile teams who want to visualize the progress of the project, prioritize tasks and identify obstacles.


Get the Agile custom solution you were looking for! Contact Polontech experts, and our team will advise you on Kanban and other Agile frameworks, help you choose the best one and implement the right software, and also accompany you at the initial stages. 

Book a free consultation

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