Kanban Timeline: The First-Ever Timeline with WIP Limits

Pavel Naydenov

Pavel Naydenov

Head of Marketing | Kanban | PPM Ops Certified

Table of Contents:

If you're a project manager and you want to become more efficient, you have to be careful with the traditional Gantt Chart.


Because even though it's still valuable for linear processes, that's not the case for a dynamic environment such as knowledge work management. 

Now don't get me wrong. The Gantt chart played a positive role, and it's still a preferred tool for project planning. But to be prepared for the call of uncertainty in today's environment, you need to stack up your toolset.

This is where timelines come in. And when you connect them with a kanban view, you've got a recipe for a powerful execution of your plans.

Here's what I mean.

Timelines Are Better When Used on a Project Portfolio Level

First, let's consider this: timelines are more useful if you apply them on a project portfolio management level. This is something that we truly believe in. 

Why is that? When used on a global level, timelines give you a broad overview of the current state of each project. You and your team can see planned and actual start/end dates, visualize dependencies between different projects/initiatives, and so on.

If you want to manage individual tasks, there is a more convenient way: a visual work management board such as the kanban board. This is why the timeline feature in Businessmap is only on an initiative's level.

Now let's get deeper.

Planning, Tracking, and Executing at the Same Place

There is one thing that is a real pain in the daily work-life of a project manager: switching between different systems to check plans, get status updates and sync between various projects.

Imagine this: you have a Gantt chart where you check your project plans. Then, you switch to your Kanban board to observe work in progress. Then, you have to go back to the first one and visualize the project's progress because you have already forgotten what its state was. 

Now, imagine that you have several projects to work on. Juggling between various systems may take you a whole day. Can you feel the pain?

Well, here is the remedy. Having a timeline and a kanban view in a single environment, you can plan, break down, execute, and track projects in the same place.

You don't have to switch between many different systems or create complex channels for communication. Everything is in one central informational hub. 

Visualize Dependencies between Different Projects and Get Real-time Status

If unpredictable events occur (which happens all the time), you need to take actions that require plan changes. If you use Excel sheets, for example, and so on, you need to re-arrange the whole plan, in most cases manually. This can take ages. 

With the timeline on a kanban board, it is much easier. First, if your team is late with completing a project within the planned end date, the system will highlight that initiative directly on the timeline. 

Second, you can just put projects that are related one after another, as shown in the picture below. This way if the first project is late, then the successor will automatically move to the right. Plus, you cannot start a project before its predecessor is finished because the system won't allow it.

Kanban timeline See, no need to switch between different systems and manually correct plans. The Kanban timeline is not static. It updates in real-time.

The First-Ever Timeline with WIP Limits to Foster Collaboration

So why do we say it's a Kanban timeline? Because it's the first timeline that has WIP limits.

And as you might know, WIP limits come from a flow-based approach such as Kanban.

What does that mean?

It means that you can set a WIP limit on your timeline that restricts the number of projects that can be in progress simultaneously.

You might ask how is this good. The application of WIP limits has proven its positive impact on team collaboration and productivity. The whole concept is based on the idea that your team has to focus on finishing the current work and avoid context-switching. This prevents the accumulation of unfinished work and waiting time. All these things help you deliver value to customers more frequently. Which inevitably leads to active collaboration.

So instead of piling projects, your team focuses on finishing work and turns up into a highly efficient workforce.

At the End of the Day...

In any case it is a good idea to break down projects into individual work items. It is also fine to group similar tasks, attach as many details as possible to each task, assign them to people, set deadlines, and make schedules. However, if something goes wrong, you might need to rework the whole plan, which is a major time-waster.

It is like a house of cards.

One wrong move and it is all gone. On the contrary, the timelines give you the flexibility to change plans on the go, focus on finishing projects and collaborate better. This makes it one of the best Agile project management tools for planning.  

With this feature in place, your team or even the whole organization will be always up to date with the current state of every project.

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Pavel Naydenov

Pavel Naydenov

Head of Marketing | Kanban | PPM Ops Certified

Pavel is a natural-born optimist with 10+ years of experience in the marketing field. By leveraging Kanban, Lean, and Agile practices for years, he drives brand growth and engagement through data-driven marketing strategies. He believes every message should express the fundamental values of a brand, and if delivered positively, it can change the course of its existence.