Is Productboard your next project manager?

Productboard offers an out-of-the-box Kanban option. Jack Wallen explains what the service is and shows you how to customize it to fit your projects.

Shot Through Glass In Modern Factory: Female Project Supervisor Talking With A Male Industrial Engineer Working On A Personal Computer.  Modern High-Tech Industrial Factory Office.
Image: Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock

Over the past year, I’ve tested a lot of project management tools and was impressed with almost every platform. But not all project management tools are created equal. Some are very basic, while others are extremely complex. However, there is a small collection of those platforms that sit right in the middle where the sheer amount of features doesn’t fit with overly complex workflows.

One such platform is Productboard. This paid service provides roadmaps, feature prioritization, centralized feedback, idea validation, seamless integration, and easy insights to get the most out of tools. One of my favorite types of project management tools is the Kanban board, and the Productboard offers one of the best I’ve used.

In fact, I tend to judge how good a project management tool is by its Kanban offering. Why? Because I find Kanban to be one of the simplest and most effective project management tools out there. So if a service offers a solid Kanban option, it will bubble to the top of the pile. Such is the case with Productboard.

Let’s dive into Productboard’s Kanban feature. I’ll show you how to set up your Kanban board, so you can see how it works.

Before you start, know that Productboard is not free. They offer two tiers of plans: The first is for teams and includes the Essentials plan for $20/month per manufacturer (billed annually) and the Pro plan for $60/month per manufacturer (paid annually). There are also plans for organizations, but you must Contact Productboard for more information. There’s a 15-day free trial, no credit card required, so you can test the service to see if it’s a good fit.

Yes, it’s expensive, but it includes:

  • Unlimited products, features and roadmaps
  • Free Contributors and Viewers
  • Jira & Azure DevOps Integration
  • GitHub, Trello and Pivotal Tracker integration
  • Enter backlog
  • Custom swim track
  • Google Apps SSO

So if you can afford the entry price, Productboard is definitely an option you should seriously consider.

With that said, let’s see how to set up those Kanban boards.

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How to create a new status

When building your Kanban board with Productboard, one of the first things you’ll want to do is create custom states that will act as the columns you use in your Kanban board. The problem with custom states is that creating and managing them isn’t exactly intuitive.

To create your custom statuses, log into your Product Board account and click Add Status near the top right corner. From the resulting pop-up menu (Picture A), click Customize Status.

Picture A

Image: Jack Wallen / TechRepublic. Go to Customize Status in Productboard.

In the window that appears, scroll down until you see the Customize Status section (Figure BUT).

Figure BUT

Image: Jack Wallen / TechRepublic. Customize the Status section for the Product Table.

As you can see, I added the following states:

  • Idea
  • First draft
  • Beta
  • Edit
  • Published

To create a new status, click Add Status and enter a name for it. Press Enter and the state will be saved. Once you’ve added all your new statuses, you have to click the ON/OFF slider for each to make it visible to your Kanban board.

You can also take a moment to turn off the default states if you don’t want to use them. You can enable/disable them for both Roadmap and Feature Table.

Once you’ve added and enabled all the statuses for your board, click the Route icon to view your Kanban board. The next step is to add your new state columns. The first thing you want to do is clear the default states. Do that, click the three-dotted menu button associated with a state, and click Remove from Roadmap (SIZE).


Image: Jack Wallen / TechRepublic. Remove the state from the Productboard roadmap.

After removing the default states, click Add Status, then click from the pop-up list (Visualization), select the new status to be added.


Image: Jack Wallen / TechRepublic. Add a new status for the Product Kanban Board.

Continue adding your statuses until you are satisfied. With that taken care of, let’s add a second swim pad. Swimlanes can be very handy when you want to use states for multiple projects. For me, I create swimwear for both fiction and non-fiction. To create a new floor mat, click Swim Pads on the left edge of the board (Figure E) and name the new swimming goggles.

Figure E

Image: Jack Wallen / TechRepublic. Add a new pad to my Product Roadmap Kanban board.

At this point, you can start adding tags to your status and website (Figure F).

Figure F

Image: Jack Wallen / TechRepublic. My Fiction/Non-Fiction Roadmap Kanban board in the Productboard.

Having the ability to add multiple swimways to a board is just one of the features that help set Productboard above its competition. Better yet, the more you dig into Productboard, the more features you’ll find that make the platform an outstanding project management option.

Is it worth the entry price? That depends on your needs, team size, and budget. But I highly recommend using this service for 15 days to see if it’s something that can make your team more productive and manageable.

Subscribe to TechRepublic’s How to make technology work on YouTube for all the latest tech advice for business professionals from Jack Wallen.

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