Kanban

Visual Process Management

Many leads and managers struggle with the prospect of implementing change in their process management and design. We want to move forward with Lean initiatives, but in some cases are not sure how to apply them “in the trenches”. Additionally, once folks have adopted agile principles and practice Scrum, they can find it limiting when dealing with multiple teams and/or cross-functional organizations.

Enter Kanban: developed by Toyota when they took a hint from 'lean' inventory management processes that they saw in local grocery stores. Kanban is an increasingly popular system for introducing incremental, evolutionary process into an organization.

www.Leankit.com provides 4 principles, or facets, of Kanban:

1. Visualize Work

By creating a visual model of your work and workflow, you can observe the flow of work moving through your Kanban system. Making the work visible—along with blockers, bottlenecks and queues—instantly leads to increased communication and collaboration.

2. Limit Work in Process

By limiting how much unfinished work is in process, you can reduce the time it takes an item to travel through the Kanban system. You can also avoid problems caused by task switching and reduce the need to constantly reprioritize items.

3. Focus on Flow

By using work-in-process (WIP) limits and developing team-driven policies, you can optimize your Kanban system to improve the smooth flow of work, collect metrics to analyze flow, and even get leading indicators of future problems by analyzing the flow of work.

4. Continuous Improvement

Once your Kanban system is in place, it becomes the cornerstone for a culture of continuous improvement. Teams measure their effectiveness by tracking flow, quality, throughput, lead times and more. Experiments and analysis can change the system to improve the team’s effectiveness.

Based on Lean best practices, Kanban offers a way to move beyond basic Scrum and improve process in a consistent, manageable fashion. 

Dev9 has helped clients transition to Kanban, and we prefer it for our development process management. If you're interested in learning more about what Kanban can offer, have a look at Gabe Hicks's "introduction to Kanban" seminar: