What is a kanban roadmap?

A Kanban Roadmap is a method that Toyota was the first company to develop. A kanban roadmap consists of a board (dubbed a “Kanban”) that depicts work progress through workflows.

The term “Kanban Roadmap” has recently gained popularity due to its simplicity and effectiveness. And if you’ve come across this glossary, you’re likely interested in learning more about a Kanban roadmap. We’ll let you in on a little secret: there is no such thing as a Kanban roadmap in the traditional sense.

The term “product roadmap” developed at some point along the line, combining Kanban boards and product roadmaps elements. On the other hand, the word “Kanban roadmap” is a misnomer in the end.

A digital Kanban board is a project management tool that divides jobs into several workflow categories. It is used to organize and prioritize tasks.

More information on Kanban boards, including how to utilize them, can be found here.

Kanban Roadmap History

The Kanban board is a prevalent project management tool that aids in visualizing work and optimizing productivity. Toyota, a Japanese automobile manufacturer, was the first to implement the Kanban system in the 1940s.

Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, invented Kanban to enhance manufacturing productivity in the company’s plants. Ohno discovered the waste generated by Toyota’s production process, including waste from resources, labor, time, inventories, and other factors. He then decided to reduce waste in these areas by only producing what was required when you needed it.

Ohno then modified the method further by incorporating paper cards into the mix. These cards were referred to as “Kanban,” which is derived from the Japanese characters “kan” (which means sign) and “ban” (which implies board), which represent board and sign, respectively. Each final product had a card attached to it that contained information about the product.

Once a product has been sold, the card is returned to the production line for reuse. Members of the team could only begin working on a new item after obtaining the relevant card from the supervisor.

This approach, which came to be known as Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing, ensured optimal output by anticipating demand and allocating resources most efficiently.

When it comes to the history of Kanban boards in digital product development, a Microsoft software developer named David J. Anderson was the first to identify the benefits of these lean methods in the digital realm. He created the current Kanban board that we are all familiar with today.

What Exactly Is a Kanban Roadmap?

At first look, the Kanban approach and product road mapping appear to be fundamentally opposed. Kanban is a task-oriented methodology, whereas roadmaps capture and convey high-level strategy.

Although this is correct, product teams may employ Kanban to create a hybrid roadmap strategy. A Kanban roadmap allows you to capture both future efforts and those you’ve committed to in the short term. Furthermore, you can tell the difference between the two groups.


Kanban Roadmap VS Kanban Board And Product Roadmap

Product roadmaps are high-level visual tools that explain the aim and direction at the highest level of abstraction. Roadmaps explain the strategy — the what, why, and for whom — behind creating whatever you are working on.

Their purpose is to communicate the strategic direction of a product. Your product roadmap will evolve as you learn more about your aims and the advice of your organization and market expectations. You may discover a variety of roadmap tools on our blog and our product management vocabulary guide, which you can access here.

We’ve already explored that there are no such things as Kanban roadmaps. So what is it about them that everyone is talking about?

Even though the company or business cannot combine kanban boards and product roadmaps, it is reasonable to assert that there are certain similarities between the two.

In the end, Kanban boards and roadmaps are incompatible since they operate in different ways and are focused on different objectives. Kanban boards are moved from one side of the board to the other. Each card must proceed through each column or category in the proper order, and it is not permitted to skip any steps along the way.

In their most basic form, Kanban boards highlight the tasks that your team must complete to focus on output. On The Other Hand, Road maps go in the opposite direction, from right to left, instead of maps that move forward.

Furthermore, unlike Kanban boards, roadmaps do not follow a strict procedure. Your roadmap is a living, breathing document that will bend and evolve in response to changes in internal and external circumstances. Your team can move items from any position on the roadmap to any situation in any column.

As a result, there is no specific development flow because roadmaps outline what your team wants to investigate and build rather than how they intend to do it. When creating a road plan, focus on the result:

●     What you’re trying to do with the project.

●     Why are you accomplishing it?

●     Who it’s intended for.

●     How you’ll measure its success.

The Importance of using a Kanban Roadmap

Project and product roadmaps are among the most critical assets that any project or product manager must produce to keep key stakeholders informed. However, most experts’ current approach to creating roadmaps is flawed.

Many damages are done when someone assumes they can anticipate the future and offer a comprehensive estimate at the individual work item level. When we arrange for something to begin and end on a specific date, we deceive everyone.

How To Use A Kanban Roadmap

●     The main focus of each document is the most important thing to remember. You’re communicating various levels of information.

●     The output is the focus of a Kanban board. It’s primarily for you to see how your tasks are progressing, understanding capacity, and track the status of each item.


The goal of a roadmap is to achieve a specific result. What you’re doing, why you’re doing it, who you’re doing it for — and how you’ll know if your decisions are successful.

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