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Moving from GitHub Projects to Zenhub

So, you’ve been using GitHub Projects for a while, but your team wants greater project management capabilities and the ability to collaborate with non-GitHub users. The obvious solution? Zenhub. 

The good news is that it’s not a difficult transition. In fact, once you’ve created a Zenhub account, you’ve probably done 90% of the work. While onboarding is easy,  Zenhub is structured to help teams take advantage of Agile practices in ways that GitHub simply isn’t – so there are a few things you should know when transitioning.  

To help make the switch to Zenhub even easier, in this blog, we’ll break down the steps involved in moving over, as well as some best practices and ways to take full advantage of your new project management home. 

What’s the difference between Zenhub and GitHub projects? 

First, let’s look at how Zenhub differs from and elevates GitHub’s project management functionalities. The main benefits you would get from using Zenhub that aren’t in GitHub are: 

Elevated task hierarchy

First, Zenhub adds a level of task hierarchy that doesn’t exist in GitHub Projects. This opens up some really powerful and useful capabilities, including more granular visibility, the ability to easily filter what you’re seeing, and the ability to scale visibility up and down as needed. See the full Zenhub information hierarchy below: 

Zenhub's task hierarchy is: Workspaces, Roadmaps, Projects, Releases, Epics, Issues, Checklists, Labels

Multi-repository Kanban boards

In addition to improved task hierarchy, Zenhub allows you to add multiple repositories, both private and public, to a single workspace. This makes it substantially easier to consolidate work, reduces the need for bouncing between repos, and makes it easier to use GitHub Issues for project management. 

Support for Agile Frameworks 

Zenhub adds scalable and flexible support for Agile practices. Your teams can take advantage of improved visibility and built-in Agile frameworks, from automated sprint planning to Planning Poker and story point estimation to robust Agile reporting and velocity tracking, without ever leaving GitHub. 

GitHub performance insights 

For team leads and managers looking for quick GitHub analytics, our new GitHub Insights feature has just that, plus actionable recommendations and performance benchmarks. The tool combs through your GitHub repositories and pulls valuable data, such as your teams’ ratio of open issues to closed issues and how long it takes to complete issues on average. It also gives suggestions on how your teams can enhance their workflows to operate more efficiently. 

Easy collaboration with non-GitHub users

For your non-GitHub collaborators, Zenhub Issues makes it easier than ever to keep everyone coordinated. Issues created there live entirely in Zenhub and don’t require GitHub access. This way, technical and non-technical teams alike can work together in one project management tool, simplifying coordination and ensuring non-technical stakeholders have the visibility they need to assess and prioritize projects.

Switching from GitHub projects to Zenhub is seamless

We’ve done our best to make the process as painless and straightforward as possible. Here are the steps: 

Create a Zenhub account and connect to GitHub
  1. Start out by making a Zenhub account if you haven’t already here.
  2. Then, you will need to connect your GitHub account. To connect your organization to GitHub, you will need administrator permissions for your organization and will need to click “Grant” next to your organization when connecting Zenhub. Learn more about GitHub authentication here.
Create a workspace and connect repos
  1. When you create your Zenhub account, you’ll be prompted to “Create a workspace.”

💡 Workspaces in Zenhub are where your team lives. Here you’ll find your team’s Kanban board, the option to plan sprints with your team, and agile reports that use the data gathered in your workspace. 

  1. When you create a Workspace, you’ll be asked to add repos to the workspace. You can add as many repos as you like to a single Kanban board and filter them by label if you don’t want all issues from a repo in one board.  

Note: If you’re using GitHub Projects classic  (the older version of GitHub Projects), you can select the option to import the GitHub Projects board when creating a Workspace. This will import the information from your GitHub board pipelines into Zenhub. 

Once you’ve connected repositories, any issues from those repos will be pulled into the board automatically. All issues will be sorted into the “New Issues” pipeline in Zenhub. You can always change which repositories you wish to be connected to your workspace. Learn more here. 

Invite your team to join Zenhub
  1. Of course, using any project management tool is useless without teammates to collaborate with. Learn how to invite your team members here. 

💡 Consider inviting non-technical team members not working in GitHub! One of the great benefits of Zenhub is you can give non-technical folks like Product and Design visibility into projects happening in GitHub. They’ll be able to see any GitHub Issues your team has on the board as well as create their own “Zenhub Issues.”

Download the Zenhub browser extension for GitHub
  1. While this is an optional step if your team is used to working with GitHub Projects, downloading the Zenhub browser extension will allow them to still get the benefit of accessing an entire project management suite from inside of GitHub’s UI. You can download the extension here. 

Understanding agile concepts in Zenhub

Now that you’re in Zenhub, there are some concepts that will be helpful to know. Zenhub brings some light, agile best practices to GitHub. While it’s not critical your team uses an agile framework to use Zenhub, it’s helpful to understand some of the agile concepts that are “additions” you won’t find in GitHub projects. 

In general, there are four broad areas where taking maximum advantage of Zenhub’s structure and features may require a bit of a mindset shift: 

  • Timeboxing work with Sprints or Milestones
  • Epics and projects
  • Story point estimation
  • Reporting and insights

When it comes to timeboxing, there are obvious parallels. Zenhub and GitHub Projects both support milestones, a useful way to track the progress your team is making on a group of issues or pull requests. Where Zenhub differs is that these plug into broader, deeper, and more tightly defined ways of stratifying work:

  • Sprints break your work down into chunks of time which you commit to completing a group of tasks. Sprint capacity is based on your team’s velocity for more accurate project planning.
  • Epics group multiple issues together for easier tracking and greater visibility.
  • Projects do the same on an ever-larger scale, pulling together multiple Epics to enhance planning and evaluation.
  • Releases capture long-term, flexible projects that can change scope and direction over time. 

Zenhub’s built-in Agile features help teams take advantage of the principles of Agile without even realizing it. But Zenhub becomes a more powerful tool when teams work with its Agile structure rather than against it. Sprints, for example, are turned on by default in Zenhub – and we recommend leaving them on! 

Similarly, story point estimation is a powerful capability, making it easier to plan productive sprints. But it relies on teams regularly estimating issues. This is made easier with the Planning Poker feature in Zenhub, which allows you to get input from multiple team members on one issue asynchronously. 

Estimation and agile reporting features also have no equivalent in GitHub, but they’re a big win for teams looking to improve their processes and productivity. In Zenhub’s GitHub insights, your team can get instant recommendations on improving processes. After your team has done a few sprints in Zenhub, you can also take advantage of Agile reports for a deeper understanding of how your team works. 


By and large, GitHub Projects and Zenhub work similarly enough that any team with experience in one shouldn’t have too much trouble in the other. 

Zenhub builds on many of GitHub Project’s features, builds Agile principles into the default way your teams approach processes, and, overall, provides a richer, more comprehensive, and more structured way to coordinate teams.

If you’re a long-time GitHub user looking to take things to the next level, consider a free trial.

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