Category Direction - Kanban Boards

Last reviewed: 2020-07-13

🚥 Kanban Boards

Stage Plan
Maturity Viable

Introduction and how you can help

👋 This is the category strategy for Kanban Boards (Boards) in GitLab; which is part of the Plan stage's Project Management group. Please reach out to the group's Product Manager, Gabe Weaver (E-mail), if you'd like to provide feedback or ask any questions related to this product category.

This strategy is a work in progress and everyone can contribute:



GitLab's mission is to build software so that everyone can contribute. Boards are intended to helps teams collaborate together more effectively during the planning and execution of sprints and releases.

Essential Intent

The goal of a Category's "Essential Intent" is to provide a concrete, inspirational statement. Another way to think of it is answering this single question – "If Issue Boards can be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?" This is Issue Boards' Essential Intent:

To empower teams to work on the right things in a transparent, collaborative, and consistent manner.

Next, asking "How will we know when we're done?" provides clarity of purpose. This is how we will know:

How we prioritize

We use the following decision framework when evaluating what to work on. Each idea must meet all three of the minimum criteria and two of the extreme criteria.

  Criteria 1 Criteria 2 Criteria 3
Minimum (3 of 3) simplifies collaboration reduces the friction to contributing aligned with market direction
Extreme (2 of 3) enhances the ability to build trust decreases manual effort increases clarity and purpose

Target Audience

Issue Boards are geared towards software development teams, but are also flexible enough for other teams in your organization to manage any type of tasks requiring tracking. We are optimizing Issue Boards for the following personas:

Challenges to address

Where we are Headed

We've written a mock press release describing where we intend to be by 2020-09-01. We will maintain this and update it as we sense and respond to our customers and the wider community.

What's Next & Why

These are the epics that we will be working on over the next few releases:

What is Not Planned Right Now

Maturity Plan

This category is currently at the 😊Viable maturity level, and our next maturity target is 😁Complete by 2020-06-22.

We are tracking our progress against this target via this epic.

User success metrics

We are currently using the loose Stage Monthly Active Users (SMAU) definition and intend on migrating to the strict definition as soon as we've implemented the necessary telemtry to measure the defined events.

Why is this important?

Issue Boards are the primary mechanism to keep teams aligned and executing on a shared, prioritized roadmap at the issue level. They also will provide the foundational constructs that allows teams to follow a consistent workflow and get quantitative data that empowers them to build trust through setting better expectations.

Competitive Landscape

The top competitor in this space is Atlassian's Jira, who are entrenched in many enterprise organizations that need an Agile/Kanban board solution. Atlassian also bought Trello, which is another significant player in this space, which has emphasized usability and being able to abstract out underlying software implementation details of an Agile sprint, to just simple task planning with a board interface.

Jira's and Trello's boards have inspired us to further refine and make our boards even more usable. In particular, we have the following ideas sketched and scoped out, including doing a lot more right in the board itself, without leaving it:

Analyst Landscape

Similar to Project Management, the analyst landscape is focused on enteprise agile planning and value stream management. Issue Boards are a means to further make these processes more refined and efficient. See:

Top Customer Success/Sales issue(s)

Top user issue(s)

Top internal customer issue(s)

Top Strategy Item(s)

Make Boards more extensible to support multiple different types of objects such as Epics and Merge Requests and expose rich context about the relationships of these objects with other objects within GitLab:

A one year goal is to provide soft real time collaboration on objects within Boards. To get there, we need to:

Another goal is to integrate analytics such as burndown charts and cumulative flow diagrams directly into Boards. In order to do that, we need to:

We also want to provide a more seamless flow from top down planning all the way to the issue level. As we work on improving epics and our roadmapping capabilities, we will also need to focus on: