Kanban Board - Looking Beyond OneNote

Kanban Board - Looking Beyond OneNote
Joel Baglien profile picture

By Joel Baglien, VP Business Development

Categories: Learn

In 2013, High Monkey’s Project Manager wrote a blog post titled “OneNote Kanban Board – One Board to Rule the Tasks!” We had no idea that the topic of OneNote Kanban would become one of the most frequently visited post on the High Monkey website. More than 4 years have passed since that original post. We thought it would be appropriate to provide this update and to introduce a new blog post series that will provide a user experience perspective on productivity tools used by the High Monkey team. If you still want to read the original Kanban blog post, it is available in our blog archieve.

In a somewhat ‘organic’ experience, we gradually adopted several tools to help us with task and project management including, Mavenlink, Trello, Slack, and Google Drive. In this case, we as consultants were mirroring our clients in our approach to productivity tools.

In 2016 High Monkey did extensive research on tools that could do more than OneNote, Mavenlink, Trello, and Google Drive. Let’s just say we were looking for the ‘holy grail’ of online tools that integrated task management, collaboration, project management, resourcing, time tracking, and integration with other team productivity tools.

This time around, we applied our own consulting approach and expertise and gathered internal business and technical requirements in four areas; production, leadership, operations, and sales. A summary of our findings read as follows.

"Our current software is doing a great job of time tracking / time entry, invoicing, and resource planning. These themes were consistent across multiple discovery sessions. From an operational standpoint around billing, we are in a great place. Slack has also been a great addition to our software. There was consistent positive feedback about how nice it is to have open lines of communication across all projects.

While there were many good things highlighted about our software, there were also negatives brought to light. Trello notifications are a symptom of a larger issue that many people feel an information overload coming from our software systems. Notifications come for tasks and projects that users are not stakeholders in and give information overload. It also became very clear that integration of software between Sales / Production / Project Management is important for the long-term success of the company. Our team was consistent in their feedback that having multiple systems for communicating and tracking project progress is beginning to cause more issues that it addresses. The final consistent pain point was a lack of knowledge and training on the systems that we are using. Our team has been handed new software to use, but no formal process has ever been implemented to ensure that sharing best practices and continual training is kept up as an ongoing process. This project began as a look into our task management & project management software, but as a result of discovery it has become clear that to truly implement a robust software portfolio for the company, all business processes from Sales & Marketing, to Project Work, to Operations & Billing need to be accounted for.”

The tools we evaluated included those listed in the chart below:

Chart of Kanban alternatives

This chart is available for download as a spreadsheet and includes links for each of the tools.

Our decision? Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, and Zoho Social. We continue to use Slack – it has replaced almost all our internal email chains and IM tools. We have also adopted Egnyte for file sharing internally and with our clients. We recently adopted Todoist for daily task management.

If you are still interested in the next evolution of Kanban versus a DIY approach, be sure to take a look at KanBo. The KanBo environment provides portfolio, project, and task management with integrations for Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange, Outlook, Office, Project, and many more.

Stay tuned . . . more blog posts about how the High Monkey team uses productivity tools are in the works.