Following any kind of agile tactic requires the entire team to come together and work as one unit. Whether you utilize Kanban or scrum boards or Kanban backlogs, or a combination of the two such as Kanplan, without a top-down integration with the program, building an agile team is impossible.

In a typical Kanban board, there is a separate column created for maintaining a record of the backlogs and a separate to-do list. While the difference between the two is significant, project managers and executives don’t often comprehend the difference completely.

What is backlog?

The backlog is basically a record of pending tasks. The list contains things that should be done but are still pending due to multiple reasons. The backlog list is a prioritized list that contains the most important tasks on the top while those at the bottom-most position are pure fantasies that might never get done. A typical example of a backlog list is the one used at airports. The backlog at airports contains all the flights that are to take off and the backlog on roads will include all cars that are on their way to their destinations. Similarly the backlog of a particular department in a company will include all the unfinished tasks and projects along with yet to achieve KPIs. The priority of backlogs is usually divided into three categories called Things we want to do, things we should do and finally things we need to do.

The Kanban board or to do list

The to-do list contains all the tasks that are to be immediately acted upon. The main reason for including these tasks in this list is because the objectives can be achieved with highest quality and efficiency. Taking something from the backlog list and putting it in the to-do list takes complete clarity on the subject and confident decision backed by data and experience. All the activities on the to do list should have the shortest possible cycle time. The shorter the cycle time, the higher the productivity. Only when the entire team agrees that they are ready do they move an activity from the backlog list to to-do list. Here one can see that projects are initiated based on a pull or readiness. Another example of this would be a system which notifies the travelers when the road is free of traffic congestion and therefore ready for them.

The backlog is just one small aspect of the entire Kanban board. The Kanban board is made to provide agile working solutions to improve productivity. The backlog only helps in prioritizing and cataloging the various tasks still left according to their importance. The Kanban board reflects the activities of the entire team whereas the backlog can be taken at every level. The backlog of the entire team would be larger than that of a small group or individual. Kanban is the way to go in managing and resolving issues that are continually raised.