A beginner’s guide to a Kanban

Kanban is a workflow management technique for visualizing your job, maximize efficiency and be agile. From Japanese, kanban is literally translated as billboard or signboard. Here’s what we’ll be looking at:

What is Kanban?

Kanban method provides an efficient and simple way to manage your tasks and projects. It allowsusers to fully visualize the status of your processes through a board with dynamic columns that make all tasks and processes steps clear. Everyone can see what needs to be done, who does what and what has already been done.

Short History of Kanban

Kanban originates from the Toyota Production System and was developed by Taiichi Ohno to Improve and keep elevated manufacturing levels.

Taiichi Ohno
Credits: Flickr/toyotamheurope

1700

The term ‘Kanban’ means billboard or signboard which, today, is known from many manufacturing units, service companies, etc. Originally, Kanban was a decorated wooden seal representing a manufacturer. These seals were an important branding tradition in the 17th century on the same level as army banners were crucial samurais.

1943

Toyota began studying supermarkets to generate insight on how to do just-in-time production. In supermarkets customers get the needed quantity and quality at the right time. Moreover, the supermarket is just filling shelves with items which they believe they will be able to sell.

1953

As a consequence of prior studies, Toyota has begun interpreting their processes as a supply chain where a process is the customer of any preceding processes and the output of preceding processes is the stock. To increase the effectiveness of the process above, a minimal quantity of stock space is desired. To accomplish this, Toyota focused on using the demand rate from any proceeding process to control the supply rate of the current process. This means that in the figure above, process 2 is restricted to only producing the number of items that process 3 is demanding. The expected demand rate from Toyota customers was used to control the production rate in the underlying manufacturing chain at the Japanese factory.

1978

Taiichi Ohno publishes a book entitled "Toyota Production System - Beyond Large-Scale Production", which describes LEAN, Lean Manufacturing and Kanban. LEAN, Lean Manufacturing and Kanban are all terms related to the process of reducing the time spent from order is issued till customer receives the ordered items and pays in cash. These optimizations are performed by removing non-value-adding steps in the process.

1988

The book of Taiichi Ohno has been translated into English and has become increasingly popular.

Credits: Kanban University

2007

David J. Anderson, independent IT-consultant, described the process of software development that emerged in an office on 2nd Avenue in downtown Seattle, USA. The team worked with software maintenance and had various kinds of stakeholders that required to be involved at different pace. From this team and their processes sprung the Kanban board, Kanban card and the majority of the Kanban policies which will is described elsewhere in this book.

Who Can Use The Kanban Method?

The Kanban Method is a process to gradually improving whatever you do – whether it is software development, IT/ Ops, Staffing, HR department, Marketing, Sales, Procurement etc. In reality, almost any business function can benefit from applying the principles of the Kanban Methodology

What Is Kanban Board?

A kanban board is an agile project management tool designed to help visualize work, limiting work-in-progress, and maximizing effectiveness (or flow). Kanban boards use cards, columns, and continuous improvement to help technology and service teams commit to the right amount of work, and get it done!

A Quick Look at About Kanban Board Basics

Kanban has three basic elements: Board, list and card.

Kanban board

A board that encapsulating a project or workflow; a traditional project management tool calls this a "project" or "workspace"

Kanban List

A list includes a collection of associated cards—typically those in the same stage of a process—in a titled column on a kanban board; a traditional project management tool calls this a "to-do list" or "task list".

Kanban card

Cards related to your board and list, such as a task to be done or a product to be made, and lives in a list on a board; a traditional project management tool calls this a "to-do" or "task".

What Is Kanban Board? How Does Kanban Board Work? – The Simple Concept

Kanban is a non-disruptive evolutionary change management system. This implies that the existing process is improved in small steps. By implementing many minor modifications (rather than a big), the risk to the overall system is reduced. Kanban's evolutionary approach leads to low or no resistance in the team and the stakeholders involved.

There are three columns in a classic Kanban board model, as shown in the image.

To Do

The column "To Do" contains all your cards that are next up. Typically, a ready column is placed at the start of the board.

Doing

Column(s) Doing (or ' In Progress ') contains all cards that you are currently working on. You can have multiple Doing columns for each phase of your workflow, as shown above.

Done

Done column(s) includes all the cards you've worked on. Depending on the workflow definition, you can have one or more Done columns to collect cards that have completed a specific part of the workflow. You will also typically have a final Done column that could be highlighted uniquely, to indicate that all work on the cards in that column has been completed

Simple example, In a board, your development team tracks launch progress by moving cards from list to list—To Do, Doing and Done.

Benefits of Using a Free Kanban Tool Board Are

Flexibility

With Kanban Tool you can change the way you work within seconds,there is no limit to what you do with it and how you work. you do with it and how you work, it easily adapts to your needs

Improvement in Production

Kanban utilizes Lean's concepts to drive down the production costs by reducing waste and improving production flow. These benefits are:

  • Smoother/seamless workflows

  • Better inventory management

  • Elimination of overproduction

  • A more focused team

  • Increased efficiency

  • Flexibility

Lean's primary objective is to create more value with fewer resources and without compromising productivity, objectives that Kanban overcomes. Kanban focuses on working together, with everyone striving toward continuous improvement (or Kaizen, another term of Lean).

Responsiveness to Demand

Keeping track of productivity, quality and flow is important to any manager that value numbers and wants to analyze metrics. With Kanban, production is driven by demand (that can increase or decrease according to predictable or sporadic events). Even if the variation in your demand seems predictable, it most likely isn’t. A Kanban Board offers a real overview of what’s going on and what’s important at the moment.

Empowerment

Kanban puts control of operations in the hands of the operators, which is fantastic as they are in the best position for overseeing production. They have a pulse on the real-time flow of the work and knowledge about daily operations

Shifting accountability for monitoring the daily runs frees managers up to focus on long-term planning needs. Empowerment generates commitment and enthusiasm, lowers absenteeism, improves mutual respect among employees and enhances productivity. Everybody wins!

Visualize Your Workflow with Custom Kanban Boards

Create custom Kanban boards using named columns to illustrate each stage of your workflow process. Story cards – representing individual work items – can be pulled from your prioritized queue and moved through the workflow via drag-and-drop. Designate swim lanes with the “Class of Service” attribute or use the “group by” choice to create swim lanes by priority, status, functional area, initiative, epic, or any custom field

Self-Discipline and Quality Control

Kanban states that big tasks and objectives should always be divided into smaller tasks that can be achieved. By doing so, it encourages an environment focused on quality improvement. Working with fewer things at a time makes it simpler to pinpoint quality control issues directly at their source.

By eliminating excess inventory, Kanban unmasks quality issues that otherwise could stay undetected for long periods of time. The system shifts the focus of workers to teamwork and improving quality through empowerment and self-discipline.

Process streamlining

Since you are able to monitor your performance with Analytics, It was never easier to see what are the common mistakes you make, and when you're making the least progress, what can be perfected. All in all, this increases productivity and gives you more time off!

Never missing a deadline again

The excellent features of Kanban Tool, such as due date and priorities, will make keeping dates and obligations a child's play.

Measure and Improve Cycle Times

Monitor and measure the average time to complete a work item using Cycle Time reporting capabilities. Group your Cycle Time reports by Class of Service, priorities, work item type or custom fields. The ability to track cycle time metrics provides visibility into past performance to help you increase the predictability of your delivery and drive continuous process improvement.

Go mobile

When you’re away from desktop you can continue to work on your Kanban board using your laptop, tablet or phone.

Essential Features of Kanban Board

In a typical project management tools, you’d list of tasks, add comments or notes with more info, and check tasks off as they are completed. Things work a bit different in a kanban board.

Here are the most common features you will find in kanban board:

Move Kanban Cards Between Lists and Boards

In kanban board, we can change the placement of a card at any time—moving it from list to list or within a list (up or down). Also we can copy or move cards from one board to another.

With all this movement, you will sometimes need to look back at the path the card took. To do this, locate the card's activity stream, likely on the card "back" which you will find by clicking on the card.

Invite Individuals to Kanban Boards, then Assign and Subscribe to Kanban Cards

In kanban board, let we invite team members, clients, and others to collaborate on a project. Each board has its own settings, including the ability to invite members.

When we add people to a board, they will be able to add cards, edit cards, move cards, leave comments or notes on cards, and add checklist and etc. They will also see the activities related to the board, so they can keep up with the project even if they are not a direct part of it.

Add Notes and Discussions on Kanban Card Backs

Kanban board include a description field on each card where we can add notes or comments and attach related files.There's also usually an area to hold discussions with your team. And if you write a description or leave a note, you can mention other members by @-mentioning their username

Adding Checklists or Tasks to Cards

Each card can have one or more checklists or task lists. For example, a card on your "Newsletter Campaign for Techno" kanban board might be titled "Preparing Campaign" and contain the following checklist:

  • Preparing cover letter content

  • Preparing relevant images

  • Finalizing design

  • Create draft campaign

Also card show a completed checklist percentage that goes up as you check off tasks, making it easy to see where you are in a process

Label or Tag Kanban Cards

Labels also called as tags. It depends on your board, add another level of organization to cards in a kanban list or board. If a card has a specific state that isn't covered by its position in a list, a label can be handy.

Labels or tags aren't applied across all of your boards. Instead, they're specific to each board. You can customize each board's label names and colors so they fit that board's workflow perfectly.

Put Due Dates on Kanban Cards

Tasks without due dates often don't get it done. So don't forget to set deadlines for your kanban cards. Just click the due date button and select the date when the task should be finished.

Then, your kanban tool will remind the assignee when a task is coming up or overdue.

WIP Limits on your Kanban Board

As explained here, WIP limits are essential to successfully implementing Kanban. Initially, it may not be easy to decide what your WIP limits should be. In fact, You may actually begin with no WIP limits.

But once you have sufficient data, you can define WIP limits for each stage of the workflow (each column of your Kanban board). Typically, most of the teams start with a WIP Limit of 1 to 1.5 times the number of people working in a specific stage.

In addition to defining the WIP limits, you need to also define how you will enforce the WIP limits. You may choose to either not exceed WIP limits or if you prefer, For special circumstances, you enable them to be exceeded, but perhaps capture the reason for why you are choosing to do so.

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