Kanban Methodology and Kanban Boards in Project Management
What is Kanban?
Kanban is a method for managing the product creation process with a focus on continual delivery while not overburdening the development team. Like Scrum, Kanban is a process designed to help teams work together more effectively.
Kanban is set up much like a factory floor, where a part might start out as a piece of metal and then, one step at a time, is turned into a finished part through a series of steps.Unlike Scrum, there’s no set time for sprints, no assigned roles outside of the product owner, and a clear focus on only the task at hand.
Core Kanban Principles
Kanban is based on these six principles
Visualize your work
Limit work in progress (WIP)
Make policies explicit
Implement feedback loops
Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally
We will look at some of these core concepts and understand how you can use them for your project management needs.
1. Visualize your work:
In kanban, the workflow is visualized into a board, called a “Kanban Board”. A Kanban Board can be a bulletin board or white board or an online board. The board has various coloumns which represent the steps in your process and each column has tasks or work items that support your process.
A list or lane contains a set of related 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”.
Each task has a card that includes all relevant info about it; this makes sure everything to complete the tasks is always at hand.
2. Limit Work In Progress
Kanban believes you can be more effective and accomplish more by trying to do less. Kanban practitioners say the WIP limit does magical things for efficiency by having team members in each stage of the workflow handling only the ideal number of tasks at once.
If you’re using a kanban board for project management, limit how many cards are in play at once; this prevents teams from over-committing.
3. Manage Flow
Kanban enables you to improve and evolve your processes over time by discussions and continual learning. In approach approach, you don’t have to worry about improving your process over night. It enables you to keep do small experiments and retain what’s working for you and as well as make small changes to your process and do continual improvements rather than making too many big changes at one time.
In the Kanban Board, improve your flow by moving down the list of backlogs in order of importance, and make sure something’s always being worked on.
4. Constant improvement
Kanban helps you improve your process by making it better and better over time with a scope for continual improvement.
Use the kanban board to determine how efficiently you’re working, and always strive to improve it.
Differences between Kanban and Scrum
Both Kanban and Scrum focuses on releasing the products early and more often. Both require highly-collaborative and self-managed teams. There are, however, differences between the approaches:
1. Kanban has no predefined roles whereas scrum has predefined roles like scrum master, product owner, team member etc
2. Kanban focuses on continuous delivery whereas scrum focuses on timeboxed sprints
3. In Kanban, work is pulled through the system in a single piece flow whereas in Scrum, work is pulled through the system in batches through the sprint backlogs.
4. Kanban allows changes to be made anytime but in scrum no changes can be made mid-sprints
5. Kanban is more appropriate in operational environments with a high degree of variability in priority whereas Scrum is more appropriate in situations where work can be prioritized in batches that can be left alone.
Benefits of Using Kanban:
Each Project Management methodology has its own benefits over the other methodology. Here are some important benefits that you leverage by using Kanban for your Project Management.
- Shorter cycle times that helps you deliver products and features faster.
- Very responsive to change
- When priorities of tasks change very frequently, Kanban is the best project management solution you can use.
- Efforts to organize the project before getting started is minimized
- Reducing waste and improving project timelines by removing activities that dont add value to the project
- focus on other important tasks/changes
- Rapid feedback loops improve the chances of more motivated, empowered and higher-performing team members
Kanban Boards for Project Management
Kanban boards are a very useful tool in project management because they help you to increase your process efficiency, reduce your wastes, improve your communication, your flexibility and your ability to solve problems faster.
These are the five important reasons Project Managers use Kanban Board
- Allocate Resources
- Manage Workflows
- Improve Efficiency
- Easier Implementation
Project Managers use Kanban Boards to allocate resources and assign work to project team members. They can avoid delays and passed deadlines by making sure resources are allocated in the most efficient manner.
With Kanban Boards, you can allocate resources by
- Creating lists for each process (Columns)
- Create cards for tasks within the process (Item boxes)
- Assigning resources for individual tasks/cards.
Once the project is initialized, you can reallocated resources if required based on priority.
The important reason for using Kanban Boards is because it helps to visualize your process and manage your workflows. A workflow is the sequential arrangement of work items/tasks in a column. A process flow is the order in which multiple processes/columns are executed in a project.
A Kanban board helps you to manage and automate your workflows by assigning resources to tasks and communicating better.
As we discussed earlier, one of the advantages of using Kanban is that, it reduces wastes. A waste could be a defect or unallocated resources or unprogressive tasks. Once a waste has been identified, the project manager can remove the waste and allocate the resources to other process or tasks.
Using Kanban Boards also helps you to visualize a bottleneck in any process/columns. In case a bottle neck is identified, the Project Manager can prioritise and allocate more resources to that specific process or remove wastes.
A kanban board helps the project manager and the team to communicate better and collaborate more often to get work done.
Kanban Boards can be implemented very easy. It could be a white board or an interactive board or an online board, you can create processes, create tasks and allocate resources in a simple manner. Online boards like Trello is the best example for a Kanban Board.