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Kanban was developed by Taiichi Ohno, at Toyota, To find a system to improve and maintain a high level of production, and in Japanese it means SignBoard

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a method that helps to:

  • Establish a culture of continuous improvement

  • Implement and scale Agile

  • Enable evolutionary change

  • Kanban is a true PULL system implementation in software engineering

  • Kanban Tool is a visual management application that allows you to easily modify the default Kanban board template, to better fit your needs

Pull System means there is a queue of work, which goes through a number of stages until it is done. When work is completed in a stage, it goes downstream to the next stage. When someone needs new work to do, they pull from upstream

Kan Board

Backlog - things to do at some time in future

Waiting - limited number of selected tasks waiting for some event to happen (i.e. approval)

Ready - things ready to start working on In progress with limit to keep you from doing too many things at the same time.

Done for reference and to track your performance.

Why Kanban?

Kanban helps to smooth the flow of work to maximize “throughput” and achieve high product quality. Unlike many methodologies which bring about disruptive changes in an organization's processes, Kanban is an evolutionary system that prefers to gradually improve an organization's current processes. This makes implementing Kanban far easier than other approaches, Making it an increasingly popular tool for managing any type of work, including agile software development.

Optimize Existing Processes

Introduction of visualization and the limiting of work-in-progress (WIP) will catalyze change with minimal disruption. Deliver with Higher Quality Limiting work-in-progress and defining policies for work prioritization will bring greater focus on quality. Policies can also address quality criteria directly.

Improve Lead Time Predictability

There is a correlation between the amount of work-in-progress, lead time and defect rates. Limiting WIP makes lead times dependable and keeps defect rates low. Improve Employee Satisfaction Kanban reduces context switching and pulls work at the rate the team can complete it. Working at a more even, predictable pace, means employees are never overloaded.

Simplify Prioritization

Kanban enables fast reprioritization to accommodate changes in the market. Provide a Transparency on the System Design and Operation Improved visibility builds trust with customers and managers. It also shows the effects of actions or inactions. As a result, collaboration improves.

Getting Started with Kanban

Rather than through a planned transition initiative and prescribed training program. The most important thing is to gain consensus around the introduction of Kanban and just start using it, changing as little of the existing culture and process as possible.

Here are some steps to getting started with Kanban.

  • Agree on a set of goals for introducing Kanban.

  • What benefit do you want to see for your organization. Determine a set of unique types of customer valued work that flow through the organization,

Examples include bug, change request, or feature.

  • Begin to visualize the flow through the system and study the system performance and capabilities.

  • The purpose is to understand the system operation not affect performance or implement control.

  • Define some starting point from where you want to control system performance.

  • Identify what is upstream of that point and the upstream stakeholders.

  • Define some exit point beyond which you do not intend to control system performance.Identify what is downstream of that point and the downstream stakeholders.

  • If there are different urgency criteria for the different work item types, define a class of service for each with relative priorities.

  • Meet with team members, upstream and downstream stakeholders

To discuss and agree on policies around WIP limits, prioritization meetings, and release mechanisms. Create a board/card wall to visualize the workflow. This will cover the workflow that exists between the input and exit points defined. Agree to have a stand-up meeting every day in front of the card wall/board, as a daily opportunity to drive improvements. Agree to have a regular operations review meeting for longer term retrospective analysis of process performance. Educate the team on the new board, WIP limits, and pull system operation.