A Simple Guide To Kanban Process

Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash

A brief history of Kanban

Kanban first developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer of Toyota automotive in Japan. The main reason to develop the kanban was that Toyota automotive lagged behind in productivity and efficiency to its American counterparts. With the adoption of Kanban, Toyota achieved a flexible and efficient just-in-time production control system that increased its productivity and product output.

Photo by airfocus on Unsplash

Types of a Kanban board

There are two types of Kanban board. Physical board and Digital Board.

Physical board

This is a simple board that is divided into 3–5 vertical columns. The team place sticky notes on each column and each sticky notes represent a task. These sticky notes can be moved through the columns to demonstrate the status of the workflow.

Digital boards

Digital Kanban boards allow remote teams to use Kanban. The most popular tool is Trello that is a very simple way to make a Kanban board. In just a few clicks you will be able to set up a Kanban board that would be viewed and managed by the entire team.

Kanban Principles

  • Start with what you know - Kanban should be applied to existing workflow and job responsibilities. Any change can be applied gradually.
  • Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change - Make small incremental changes that will have the least resistance throughout the teams.
  • Encourage acts of leadership at every level - People at all levels in the organization can provide ideas and continuously improve the product and services.

Kanban Best Practices

  • Visualize - Keep a visual model of your work process so you can observe the workflow. This workflow helps you to avoid bottlenecks and queues.
  • Limit work in progress - By clearly defining the work in progress limits can improve delivery and can reduce delay in delivery.
  • Manage flow - A consistent workflow is essential for maximizing the delivery time. It should also provide an indicator for future bottlenecks.
  • Make policies explicit - Teams decide the standards for the process definition. For example, by making the team’s Definition of Done for each work stage explicit, the team can avoid the waste of time and effort.
  • Create opportunities for feedback - Teams set up weekly or monthly to find out the area of improvement.
  • Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally. By determining how to improve the continuous flow of delivery.

So Why Kanban works

There are a lot of techniques out there to project management and continuous improvement. Kanban stands on top of all of them because it gives us a visual sense of where we stand. A picture is worth a thousand words for scientific reasons. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Visual information comprises 90 percent of the data that comes to our brain.

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