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I'm wondering if we should use sub-tasks in Kanban board? Or any sub-task should be repsresented with a column in the Kanban board?

  • As it stands, I don't believe this question can have a canonical answer beyond "it depends on what you need / how your project is structured". Besides, there's no way (in jira) to represent subtasks in a column... so I might be not understanding the "or" part on it. – Tiago Cardoso Jan 3 at 12:16
  • @TiagoCardoso Sub-tasks can be represented in Jira columns. – Chris Brettini Jan 3 at 15:36
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It depends on what you are trying to visualise.

Kanban is about optimising a workflow and visualisation is an important part of this. If your sub-tasks represent stages of a workflow then it may make sense to represent them as columns.

If, however, your sub-tasks are very fine-grained then this could result in a Kanban board with a large number of columns. Such a board might be difficult to interpret and so would hinder the team's optimisation effort.

There are other options you can use. For example, I worked with a team that used cards to represent tasks and post-it notes attached to the cards to show sub-tasks.

Another thing to consider is if you reduce the size of your tasks then it may no longer be necessary to have sub-tasks.

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  • Thanks! Let's consider the case when a sub-task isn't a stage of a workflow. What's the use of these sub-tasks? Could you provide an example when it's useful to create sub-tasks? Do they just help a manager to control the progress of a bigger task? Or do they help a manager to optimise a workflow? – Chris Brettini Jan 3 at 10:55
  • One example of where I've seen sub-tasks used is with meetings. For example, there is a task to add a new search function to a website, but the team wants to get together to discuss the technical approach. You wouldn't necessarily want to add a new task to cover this design meeting, but adding a sub-task can be a good approach. At this stage the sub-tasks are acting more as a checklist or memory prompt for the teams. – Barnaby Golden Jan 3 at 11:46
  • Do we ever use sub-tasks for decomposition of a big task in Kanban? Task - add a new search function to a website. Let's suppose this is a big task. Sub-task1 - Research the current architecture, Sub-task2 - Implement the search function, Sub-task3 - write unit tests, Sub-task4 - update the documentation, Sub-task5 - update the UI. It is easier to track progress of small work items than big ones. – Chris Brettini Jan 3 at 16:59
  • It would be worth asking that as a question. StackExchange comments aren't really intended to be the place to ask and answer questions. – Barnaby Golden Jan 3 at 17:07
  • Yes, you are right. pm.stackexchange.com/questions/27876/… – Chris Brettini Jan 3 at 18:03

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