Visual Management Boards for Collaboration and Success

team visual management boards featured image

Project managers are always looking for ways to boost collaboration and productivity. One method that actually works is putting the whole project on a board.

Visualizing key elements in a project will transform your project management approach. Using visual project management boards will empower teamwork, boost productivity, and help teams deliver impactful results.

What are Visual management boards?

Visual management boards are boards that contain all the information about the project. They are used to communicate the progress made on the project. Visual management boards provide info on the achievements, tasks, and data with a single glance at the board. The team can use visual management boards to improve their communication, facilitate understanding of the project’s processes, and keep all the project-relevant data in sight.

Teams use visual management boards to show projects’ progress. These visual cues help them always know where the project is headed. The goal is to represent the project in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-use way.

The board should be useful to the entire team, and they should be able to use it and adapt it on the go, customizing it to their own business and work process. Using visual management boards will help teams to facilitate effective project management and workflow visualization. This is done by tracking the project’s performance, presenting key performance indicators or KPIs, and generating insight into the project’s progress for the entire team.

Types of Visual Management Boards

When the visual management board is placed in the office, teams and project managers can use a whiteboard, a corkboard, or even a wall. Boards can also be placed in a virtual space using software such as ActiveCollab.

Depending on which project management methodology your team uses, first-time users of visual management boards can start off with Kanban boards, Gantt chart boards, Scrum boards, or task boards. All these boards have in common that they should be easy to use and change as the board adapts to the needs of the team and the project over time. Even though there are various types of visual management boards, they all change constantly, which is the constant they share. It can be said that every board is a lean visual management board because it is adaptable to changes.

How do you create a visual management board?

Setting up a visual management board can be done in several steps.

  • Step one: choose the right location for the board. Set up the board so the team can easily see it. The perfect place to place a board is where the team circulates often and feels free to take time to look at it and add to it. When looking at the board, the team should not feel like they are imposing or interrupting important work.
  • Step two: Set up the props and materials for the team to use close to the board. A station full of markers, pens, sticky notes, magnets, and other props will enable the team to add new information to the visualization board and facilitate this process.
  • Step three: Create a concept for a structured board. Decide how tasks and user stories will be represented on the board. Pinpoint which labels and magnets will be used, and let the team participate in creating the board concept.
  • Step four: embrace the changes. As the team uses the board, they will make changes over time that might diverge from the initial concept. Encouraging the team to take an active part in changing the board and welcoming the changes is key.

What should a visual management board include?

Your visual management board includes all the segments of your project, making it easy for the team to understand and overlook the project’s progress. Usually, those are tasks represented on sticky notes, but you can also add more information that will be relevant to your team. A board can also include user stories, backlog, and whichever aspect of the project the team needs to navigate their project easily.

Depending on your project management methodology, you can represent the project as Kanban using columns or use a Gantt chart with a timeline view or any other view. To easily distinguish types of tasks or team members, various teams use color coding and different colored sticky notes or other visual indicators. You can also include magnets that you can add to a task when dealing with a task that is a blocker or label it as a task of high priority. Magnets can be used to represent team members who are working on a task at hand or show team members who are currently available for new tasks.

The type of project you are working on, and the methodology you are using will affect how it is represented on the board, but be prepared for the board to change and evolve over time as the team members use it and add their own personal marks to it.

Visual Management Boards for Workflow Visualization

A visual management board will not just help visualize workflow, it will also improve team communication and allow the team to track task progress.

Once a team member is stuck on a task, it will be easy to see that on the board and team up team members so they can together deal with the blocked task before it causes additional delays on the project. Using a visual project management board improves efficiency with tasks piling up since it allows the team to identify bottlenecks and resolve issues early on. If you are looking for a way to improve your team’s efficiency, visual management is the way to go!

What is visual management?

Visual management is the way to display project information transparently and share it with the team. It helps the team to understand the project operations and communicate better when working on a project. Team and cross-team communication are important for collaboration and the project's progress. Visual management helps managers, the entire team, and stakeholders to stay on the same page and navigate the project’s process easily, improving communication across teams, project managers, and stakeholders every step of the way.

What are the 4 levels of visual management?

There are four levels of visual management, which will help you to comprehend it better and enhance your board:

Level 1 - provides users with basic information about the project.

Level 2 - shares the information about instructions and standards.

Level 3 - helps teams track metrics in real-time

Level 4 - allows the team to spot abnormalities in the process.

Advanced Visual Management Techniques

To introduce enhancements to your board, try advanced visual management techniques: swimlanes, WIP (Work-in-Progress) limits, and cumulative flow diagrams. Kanban swimlanes can help teams estimate their capacity better and break down otherwise too complex tasks. They also make it easier for the team to follow and comprehend the project’s progress.

In the WIP or work-in-progress section, you can limit the number of tasks shown as work-in-progress. This is especially efficient if you want to work on removing the bottlenecks and preventing stalls in production. Usually, bottlenecks occur because the definition of done criteria is not firmly set or because testing processes are awaited. Either way, once you set a limit on the number of tasks that can be shown as WIP, you are making sure the team takes on no new tasks and can fully focus on resolving the tasks at hand.

Cumulative flow diagrams show concise flow metrics in combination with advanced Agile project management analytics, which can help the team better understand the production process.

Benefits of Management Boards

Visual workflow boards have multiple benefits for teams, such as enhancing collaboration and increasing transparency. It will help improve communication within the team and make it easy for them to keep up with all the changes and always stay in the loop with a single look at the board.

Agile boards help teams overlook the project and give them insights that will help them make future decisions. If the team sees a potential issue lurking, they will know how to recognize it, prevent bottlenecks from forming, and keep up with the due dates on tasks and the project as a whole.

Using task visualization boards, your team can follow the flow of the project and their own tasks.

Why are visual management boards important?

Having a visual management board is important if you want to facilitate team communication and collaboration. Collaboration boards help divide the amount of work among team members equally. The best part is that you can visually show the board to anyone and help them always understand the project management process and be included in it.

Visual management is easy to comprehend and facilitates the team’s effort in reaching the project’s goal. Any project, no matter how simple or complex, can be shown on project visualization boards, making it easier to understand and follow all important processes when completing the project.

It’s also essential for teams that like to document their work or learn from their own experience to have visuals. Once they see them on the visual project management board, they will know how to recognize and anticipate future problems, blockers, or bottlenecks.

A problem-solving board will help the team quickly and effortlessly solve the problem by clearly showing all aspects of the problem visually. If you want to boost project progress, work progress boards can motivate your team to achieve more in the future by making them more aware of their past achievements.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Common challenges include representing visual management, limiting the amount of data represented, and keeping it up to date. To overcome these challenges, the team must ensure all work aspects are visible, create boards that represent only relevant data, and encourage the team to update boards regularly.

The best way to fix these issues is to frequently and regularly update your visual management board. Make sure all aspects of work are made visible and the team can easily add to the board or make necessary changes. Place the necessary materials for the team to use near the board and encourage them to take action, make changes to the board, and update it regularly as they carry on with their day-to-day work on the project and adjacent processes.

Integrating Digital Solutions for Visual Management

Setting up a board in a virtual environment can make it even more accessible to teams, especially if they are working remotely or in different time zones. Digital tools such as ActiveCollab help create virtual visual boards for work and facilitate remote collaboration and scalability.

Team members will have an overview of their tasks just one click away, and they will always be up to date with the latest changes, receiving timely notifications about updates and changes.

ActiveCollab helps teams create collaboration boards and visualize their projects and tasks easily and effortlessly. ActiveCollab comes fully equipped with views such as a column view if you opt for Kanban and a timeline view if you use a Gantt chart view of your project. In the timeline view in ActiveCollab, it is especially easy to add dependencies between tasks and view your tasks on a timeline.