Many teams assume that they have to fit all their work on to one board and that’s not true. Kanban boards are there to help you visualize and manage the system. If one board can do that well then one board is fine. If it would be easier or better to visualize and manage across multiple boards then that’s what you should do.

The most boards I’ve seen a single team manage was seven. That’s because there seven different workflows that they needed to manage to handle all the work that would come to them. They had six distinctly different types of requests that each had defined workflows and then they had a bunch of requests that were better managed with a simple “ready / doing / done” workflow.

Some teams have fairly simple types of requests. A team doing new product development, for example, might have “new feature requests”, “bugs”, and “production support requests”. If all three follow a similar workflow then a single board might be adequate.

Other teams can have very complex environments. I worked with a team once that supported a telephony system. They had to do everything from software upgrades to making recordings to configuration changes to even cabling of systems. When we modelled out all the possible requests that could come to them, we identified over ninety different and distinct types of requests. Fortunately, in that case the vast majority followed a very similar workflow so they only needed a small handful of boards.

How would you do a standup with more than one board?

Quite simply, we pick one board and walk through that. Then we pick another board and walk through that. Continue until we’ve talked about every item on every board.

Sometimes there’s a logical order that we should follow and sometimes it doesn’t really matter. If work flows from one board to another then we should clearly talk about them in the order that the work flows. If the boards are unrelated then just pick one and get started.

If at all possible, you want to be able to see all the boards at the same time. This is easy if we’re modeling our board on a physical wall and harder if we’re using a tool like Jira that makes this hard.

It’s ok to have multiple boards. These boards are here to make it easier to visualize and manage the the work. If your current layout is making it hard to see what the work is or how it’s flowing then consider changing how you do that. If you have one board today then consider if splitting it into multiples would help. Conversely, if you have multiples today then consider whether it would be better if it were in one or split in different ways.