The secret to increasing the productivity of software development teams may lie in the lean manufacturing system developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. Kanban is a popular visual workflow management system that has been adopted by software development teams to bring productivity and efficiency to their business. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into Kanban and how to use it to improve communication and reduce waste in your developer workflow. What is Kanban? Kanban means "visual signal" or "sign board" in Japanese. It was developed by Toyota engineer and businessman Taiichi Ohno, who realized that manufacturers could simplify the process by optimizing the number of work-in-progress to meet consumer demand, rather than bringing products to market. In other words, Ohno invented just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, which would revolutionize manufacturing. What does this look like for knowledge workers and software developers? For this, we turned to David J. Anderson, the famous pioneer in the 2000s who brought Kanban from manufacturing to the IT world: "Kanban is not a software development lifecycle approach or a project management approach. It requires that some processes are already in place so that Kanban can be applied to incrementally change the underlying processes." -
David J. Anderson, Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change in Your Technology Business Anderson outlines the guiding principles of Kanban as a visual system that any team can use to improve collaboration, transparency, and communication. The Four Principles of Kanban Kanban boards can take many forms—whiteboards, process trees, visual cards, number boards—but the basic principles are always the same. The four core principles of Kanban are: Visualize workflow. Kanban makes no assumptions about your workflow or process. It just requires you to document it in a way that everyone on the team can easily visualize. Restricted work in process (WIP). Taiichi Ohno was inspired by the efficiency of Japanese grocery stores, pulling inventory from the back room to the shelves only when customer demand left room for it. The same JIT delivery concept can be used to industry mailing list workflow by intentionally limiting the amount of work in the process to avoid inherent bottlenecks. Focus on traffic. With WIP minimized, team output is optimized for the reality of your workflow, and preventing disruptions in that workflow should be your next priority. Identifying and fixing problems in the workflow naturally leads to process improvement. continuous improvement. Kanban is never complete. The idea is to foster a team culture of continuous improvement, also known as Kaizen. Kanban Basics [Image via. ] Kanban is the most popular visualization tool for implementing Kanban. Your simplest board is divided into three basic columns: to do in progress complete
On a factory floor, this might be a whiteboard with color-coded sticky notes that visually represent the current state of the factory workflow. In knowledge work, this is often a digital board with "task cards" as part of a project management tool like Trello. In either case, Kanban operates according to some basic principles that extend the four core principles of Kanban: Visualize your workflow. Expand the original three columns as needed to accurately map your process. You should be able to see at a glance which step in the process is the bottleneck. Visualize your problem with blockers. Blockers, or blocked cards, are how Kanban visually prevents your team from continuing to work on tasks. Project management tools often paint tasks red or mark them with a stop sign, which lets the rest of the team know that they should work on another task while the problem is being solved. Visualize your team. Most project management tools already allow you to assign tasks to different members of your team. Kanban boards typically display the assigned user's profile photo or name in the corner of the task card assigned to them. This makes it easy to identify at a glance who is responsible for which tasks, bringing transparency to the team. Control your WIP. The WIP limit is what differentiates Kanban from other board-level systems such as Scrum. By limiting the number of tasks that can be put into any given column, you can reduce multitasking to a manageable level, allowing the team to focus on completing the task at hand.
Eliminate basic status updates/meetings. If everyone on the team can communicate effectively through Kanban, there is no need to hold status meetings or write progress reports. Management and stakeholders are kept informed and informed in real-time. When the organization as a whole is united under a culture of continuous improvement, meetings can be reserved for more important issues and updates. Tip: Scrumban is what you get when you choose Scrum as your primary method and Kanban as your visualization tool. Scrum boards are really just tweaks to become Kanban boards. You can practice Kanban on top of the agile concepts you already love about Scrum by simply adding WIP restrictions, using interceptors, and continuously monitoring your workflow to improve it. Project management tool using Kanban Now that you know what Kanban is, let's take a quick look at some project management tools that let you use Kanban. Jira is Atlassian's popular project management and issue tracking platform for software development teams. From Kanban to Scrum to Waterfall, Jira's customizable workflows can support most project management methodologies. There are many apps and plugins that add functionality to your workflow system and integrate seamlessly with GitHub. KanbanFlow is a lean project management tool with a simple UI that allows teams to collaborate in real-time. One thing that makes it unique is the inclusion of real-time tracking and a Pomodoro timer that enables users to record time spent on tasks. LeanKit is a lean-based enterprise platform that comes with a fully customizable board that can support Kanban.
Trello is Atlassian's board-based project workflow visualizer for those who just need a simple drag-and-drop board that they can customize to their needs. This is just a short list and by no means comprehensive. Notable absentees include Asana, Basecamp and Wrike. For a more comprehensive list of tools designed to enhance teamwork and productivity, check out "50+ Amazing Tools for Team Collaboration." Use Kanban to increase productivity, collaboration and transparency Kanban improves the flow of information within an organization by creating a single source of truth that everyone on a team can access to get a clear picture of how his or her workflow is performing. Eager to implement Kanban in your organization but not sure where to start? Consider hiring a Kanban freelancer for your project management needs. While a "Kanban Master" isn't really a thing, many professionals are probably familiar with workflow visualization tools, including Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, Lead Developers, and Project Managers. Using Kanban, you can give your team the bird's-eye view they need to make your software development process better.