Paymo Logo
Blog Home

Jump to section

A brief history of Kanban
Work Management
Last modified date

Oct 11, 2023

What is Kanban?

author image

Andrei Țiț

Blog average read time

2 min

Last modified date

October 11, 2023

Kanban is a project management tool that allows you to get a more visual overview of the tasks that either need to get done or are complete.


Kanban software is instrumental to project management or any business as it helps visualize tasks and projects in stages. At its core, Kanban consists of a physical or digital board with three columns (To Do, In Progress, Done) and tasks listed as story cards. Every card will be pulled from left to right until it gets done. Finally, they will leave the workflow.

More advanced ones are web-based and include workflow limits and priority lanes for urgent tasks. Also, these task management tools are proved to be efficient for remote tasks too.

Kanban rests on three main principles that promote:

  • Workflow visualization
  • Work-in-progress (WIP) limits
  • Workflow measurement

Its main goal? To visualize and maintain the workflow while eliminating waste.

Create your first Kanban board with a free Paymo trial.

A brief history of Kanban

Taiichi Ono, an industrial engineer at Toyota, developed the Kanban in the 1940s as a scheduling system for the manufacturing sector. He inspired himself from the self-stocking techniques used by supermarkets, where consumption was based on customer demand. Hence the pull character of the system.

The system was first used at Toyota factories, in order to balance material supplies with actual production. Factory workers would communicate the inventory levels of specific materials through a card called “Kanban” (which literally means “signboard” in Japanese). Every card would be carried all the way to the warehouse, indicating the requirements for the demanded material.

Later, David J. Anderson pioneered the Kanban method to software development in 2010, as a tool for agile teams. Since then, Kanban has been a key component of project management solutions, which now includes everything from task management to automated invoicing software. It’s ideal for people who want to manage a project from A to Z— accounting included.

Why are Kanban boards useful?

Kanban boards didn’t simply gain popularity overnight. Their widespread acceptance is mainly due to the following four benefits:

  1. Visualize your project workflow – get your team to be more focused through project transparency.
  2. Identify and remove bottlenecks – add work limits for in-progress columns to avoid overproduction and eliminate different kinds of waste throughout the project.
  3. Improve team collaboration – allow your team to make better estimates on lead time (the time it takes a feature request to be completed), ultimately improving the project’s success rate.
  4. Speed up your workflow – since transparency leads to a faster process and less work.
Andrei Țiț


Andrei Țiț is a product marketer at Ahrefs. He has been involved in product marketing at various SaaS companies for over six years, specializing in content marketing and short-form video. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and traveling.

Read More

November 23, 2023

Read time clock

12 min

The Most Important Project Manager Responsibilities

Author: Alexandra Cote

Alexandra Cote

November 23, 2023

Read time clock

14 min

The Most Extensive Project Management Guide for 2024

Author: Laurențiu Bancu

Laurențiu Bancu

November 23, 2023

Read time clock

25 min

The Guide to Becoming a Top-Notch Project Manager in 2024

Author: Alexandra Cote

Alexandra Cote

HomeComplete Feature ListPricingFree AccountAbout Us


Contact SalesOnboarding


CustomersTestimonialsSpread the WordAffiliates

Paymo Logo

Copyright © 2023 Paymo LLC

By signing up, you're agreeing with the Paymo Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Cookies help us deliver our services. By continuing to use the website, you consent to the use of cookies.

Learn more about the cookies in Our Privacy Policy.