Kanban boards software: 11 top picks for 2023

Caeleigh MacNeil contributor headshotCaeleigh MacNeil
April 4th, 2023
7 min read
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Summary

Kanban board software helps teams visualize work by organizing tasks into columns, like “do,” “doing,” and “done.” In this article, we’ve outlined the best Kanban tool options on the market—including their pros, cons, and how to choose software that’s right for your team.

Seeing a list of project tasks is one thing. But visualizing the status of each task? That’s where the magic happens. 

The more you can quickly see the status of work, the smoother projects will go. Kanban board software helps you do just that by organizing tasks into columns according to their completion stage—just like sticky notes on a physical board. But unlike a physical board, Kanban software lets you visualize work and collaborate with your team in one place, from anywhere. 

With so many Kanban board tools on the market, it’s hard to know which one to choose. To help cut through the confusion, we’ve outlined the top 11 options in this article.

What is Kanban board software? 

Kanban board software is a tool that helps teams plan and visualize work in progress using the Kanban method. A Kanban board is a visual way to plot out tasks. Picture a board with sticky notes arranged into columns—like “do,” “doing,” and “done.” That’s the Kanban methodology at its most basic. Kanban software lets you create the same visual representation of work, but with much more functionality than paper sticky notes. 

A simple task board contains: 

  • Task cards: These are your virtual sticky notes. They represent each task your team needs to complete, usually with additional information like when the task is due and who owns it. 

  • Columns: The columns in your Kanban board usually represent the status of each task—like “New Requests,” “In Progress,” and “Complete.” As tasks progress, they move through each column until complete. 

[Product UI] Work requests project example (Boards)
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Why use Kanban board software?

Kanban board software lets you do much more than just drag and drop tasks through different stages. It’s a hub where your team can plan, organize, and complete work together—even if you’re not in the same room. With a Kanban tool, you can: 

  • Keep all your project information in one place.

  • Build Kanban boards and collaborate with your team in one tool.

  • Visualize the status of work in real-time.

  • Monitor project progress and prevent bottlenecks before they happen.

  • Communicate with teammates by commenting directly on each task. 

  • Automatically move tasks to different columns as team members complete work.

  • Set deadlines and assign owners to each task.

Kanban board software is much more flexible than a physical board. As circumstances change, you can easily reassign work, change due dates, and add more columns when processes get more complex. 

How to choose Kanban board software

The best Kanban board software goes beyond simple, single-project organization. It should be flexible enough to use across teams and projects—so engineering can track their sprints, IT can monitor incoming requests, CRM can plan their calendar, and more. The more use cases the software offers, the more value you can get from the tool. And when it’s employed throughout your company, you can use Kanban board software to collaborate across teams—not just for one specific project. 

Key features to look for

Make sure the Kanban board software you choose includes these key features, especially if you want to use it broadly across your organization.

  • Integrations: Look for software you can connect with the tools your team already uses. This helps you get more value from your existing tech stack, because you can centralize information from apps like Slack, Jira, and Salesforce in one place. 

  • Automation: Dragging and dropping tasks into different columns doesn’t work at scale. Automations let you instantly move tasks across your Kanban board as your team completes work. The best tools include custom automations that you can tailor to your specific processes—and eliminate time spent on repetitive tasks. 

  • Dashboards: Don’t waste time manually pulling progress reports. Look for a tool with reporting functionality, so you can instantly visualize metrics like incomplete work items, task completion time, and team bandwidth. 

  • Time tracking: Knowing how long tasks take to complete is essential as you balance your team’s workload. Ideally, the software you choose should let you estimate time requirements andmeasure how long work actually takes.  

  • Different view options: Visualizing your work in different ways can help you spot bottlenecks and blockers before they happen. Choose a tool that lets you switch back and forth between different views—so you can see your project as a Kanban board, calendar, spreadsheet-style list, or Gantt chart

  • Templates: Instead of starting new projects from scratch, templates let you kickstart initiatives with a pre-built framework. Look for a tool with a robust template library—plus the option to create custom templates. 

Questions to consider

Aside from features, it’s also important to consider how this new software will fit your team’s (or company’s) specific needs. Here are some questions to ask before taking the plunge: 

  • Is this software easy to adopt? If Kanban board software isn’t intuitive, teams won’t adopt it. Watch product demos or schedule a session with the sales team to get familiar with the software’s UI—including its web, desktop, and mobile app. Make sure the software has an easy-to-navigate user guide. You want teams to easily get started with the tool on their own, without a steep learning curve.

  • Will purchasing this tool improve my company’s bottom line? Make sure you can quantify potential return on investment (ROI) from the software. Research pricing and look for independent reports that quantify time savings from different project management tools, like this report from Nucleus Research

  • Is this tool secure? It’s critical to ensure company information stays private, even when employees work in different locations and time zones. Data security is a must-have feature; do your research, and make sure the tool meets your IT team’s required security standards

  • Can our company use this software across different teams? New software shouldn’t contribute to application sprawl. Instead of picking a tool that you can only use narrowly for a specific team, look for options that are flexible enough to cover a broad range of use cases. Ideally, collaboration software should streamline cross-team workflows—like campaign and project planning, work request tracking, or strategic planning.

The best Kanban software of 2023: 11 top picks

Looking to adopt a new tool? Check out this list to pick the best software for your team. 

Asana

An enterprise-ready platform, built for any use case 

Asana supports a wide range of enterprise-ready features—so if you’re looking to manage work at scale, it’s one of the best options. With functionality like integrations, automation, and dashboards, your team can save time on repetitive tasks, plus see project performance at-a-glance. According to an independent study by Nucleus Research, Asana can cut the time it takes to complete a project by up to 50%, reduce time spent in meetings by up to 50%, and minimize project errors by up to 90%. 

In addition to Kanban board functionality, Asana lets teams toggle between different project views—like task lists, calendar view, and timeline view. That means employees aren’t limited to just Kanban boards. Instead, they can organize their workspace the way that works best for their specific needs. 

Asana shines for organizations that want to expand beyond simple project planning and task management. It’s flexible enough to deploy across teams and use cases—so instead of siloed projects, you can facilitate collaboration between teams. 

[Product UI] Creative asset feedback and approval project example (Boards)
See Asana in action

Trello

Simple, classic Kanban boards

Trello focuses specifically on Kanban project management, with colorful boards and Kanban cards you can drag and drop into different columns. The simplicity of Trello means it’s easy to get started right away. Trello shines for small teams and single-team projects—but if you want to scale your business, chances are you’ll outgrow Trello. 

Comparison: See how Trello compares to this alternative. 

Monday.com

A user-friendly tool for smaller teams

With a colorful and engaging interface, it’s easy for teams to get started with Monday.com. You can create Kanban boards with a drag-and-drop builder—plus toggle between other project views like calendars and lists. But while it’s easy to jump into single projects with Monday.com, you may run into barriers as you expand cross-team collaboration. 

Comparison: See how Monday compares to this alternative

Clickup

Favored by startups with tight budgets

Clickup’s Kanban boards are easy to build, with drag-and-drop functionality, color-coded tags, and other user-friendly features. The tool offers more than just Kanban boards, which means you can visualize your work in different ways—like lists and calendars. However, some users report hitting barriers as their teams expand and cross-functional teamwork becomes a priority.

Comparison: See how Clickup compares to this alternative

Businessmap

Full-featured Kanban boards for Agile teams

Businessmap lets you create more complex Kanban boards. The tool includes functionality to link different boards together, split board columns into sub-columns, and create card templates for recurring work. It’s a strong solution for Agile teams—but if you want a tool with additional use cases, Businessmap might feel limiting. 

Smartsheet

A spreadsheet-focused tool with Kanban functionality

Smartsheet specializes in spreadsheets. This tool offers more capabilities than Microsoft Excel or Google Docs, like time tracking and collaboration features. It also includes a simple Kanban board view, which allows users to drag and drop cards into different columns. But spreadsheets are where Smartsheet really shines—and since not all teams prefer to work in sheets, this tool may not translate well across your organization.

Comparison: See how Smartsheet compares to this alternative.

Airtable

Colorful spreadsheets with Kanban board options

Like Smartsheet, Airtable’s main focus is spreadsheets—but with a more colorful UI. Airtable’s filtering, sorting, and grouping functionality helps users sift through data that could otherwise be overwhelming in Kanban board format. But while the software is customizable, it can feel limiting as you scale your team and processes. 

Comparison: See how Airtable compares to this alternative

Wrike

Kanban boards for client-facing teams

Wrike offers Kanban board functionality, with cards you can organize into different columns to visualize work status. The tool’s user-friendly security permissions make it easy to safely share information with external clients, which can be helpful for teams that prioritize work with external partners. However, it may be less effective for managing cross-team projects.

Comparison: See how Wrike compares to this alternative

Zoho Sprints

A visual, agile-specific tool

Zoho Sprints shines for agile teams, with specific features for Scrum and Kanban project management. The tool supports Agile epic creation and management, plus user stories, work-in-progress limits, and burndown charts. But since Zoho Sprints is so tailored to Agile project management, it may not be flexible enough to use across different teams. 

Jira

Made for software developers

Jira was designed for software developers, with Agile-specific features like epics, user stories, and sprints. The tool includes Kanban board functionality, which allows users to track tickets through each stage of the sprint lifecycle—like “backlog,” “in progress,” “in QA,” and “done.” But while Jira works well for technical teams, it may not be flexible enough to use across your company.

Comparison: See how Jira compares to this alternative.

To do their best work, companies need to connect cross-functional development across teams. With the Asana + Jira integration, you can automatically create Asana tasks from Jira issues—and automatically sync issues, tasks, projects, comments, assignees, custom fields, and more.

Discover the power of Jira + Asana

Azure DevOps

Development-specific services for Agile teams

Azure DevOps is tailor-made for software development teams. In addition to a Kanban system, the software includes Github hosting and code review functionality, a universal package repository, and test plans to help teams successfully deploy their code. This tool is very specific—so if you’re looking for something to use for different use cases, it may not be the best option. 

Visualize work your way

Kanban boards are a useful tool to visualize where work stands. But by themselves, they’re not enough to coordinate work across teams and bigger projects. That’s why the best Kanban tools offer more than just boards. Great project management software lets teams organize work in the way that works best for them, whether that’s as a Kanban board, checklist, calendar, or Gantt chart. With that flexibility, you can adapt your software to fit your company's needs—rather than changing your processes to fit your software. 

See Asana in action