Over the years, we’ve written about several plugins that help publishers manage content creation and publishing workflows for teams of writers and editors, including the excellent CoSchedule and Editorial Calendar. WordPress is great at managing content, but for publishing workflows with many different pieces of content flowing from ideation to creation and publication via multiple team members, it helps to have a dedicated tool.
Kanban is a new entry to this field that takes a somewhat different approach to the traditional editorial calendar. Kanban, which is developed by Corey Maass, is loosely based on the Kanban technique, a management technique invented by the Japanese automobile industry in the 1950s that encourages just-in-time supply replenishment and process optimization. Kanban was adopted by the software industry, which uses it to manage and visualize development workflows.
Kanban proper is a complex management strategy, but for our purposes it’s a tool for content teams to visualize and manage workflows and projects. Within Kanban, this is done using Kanban cards. Workflows are visualized as a series of columns — or swimlanes, if you prefer — that match stages of the content production workflow.
Let’s say you have an Ideas column, a Write column, an Edit column, and a Publish column. Content ideas are entered into the first column, and when a writer is ready to make a start, she moves it into the Write column, at which point it’s assigned to her and she estimates how long it will take her to complete. When she’s done, she moves it into the Edit column, at which point an editor picks it up, edits it, and moves it to the Publish column.
The benefit of using this system is that everyone can see which work is available for them, and each piece of work flows through the system in a logical order.
Corey Maass has written an article that looks at building content creation workflows on Kanban in more detail.
Kanban is a great way to organize content publishing workflows in WordPress, if its methods suit the way your organization works. It lacks some of the power and precision of tools like CoSchedule, but I can see how, for some organizations, that’s a good thing. Editorial calendars foreground information in a different way, and it can often be difficult to see a comprehensive overview of the status of work moving through the process. Kanban is designed to make that sort of workflow visualization and management much easier; a task it accomplishes with aplomb.