What is Kanban? Well, many of you have heard of Agile or Scrum or OpenAgile or maybe even Lean, but what is this Kanban anyway?

Here is a quick description: Kanban is composed of three things to help make your process more efficient which include: visualize the workflow, limit work-in-progress (WIP), and measure lead time. Kanban is under the Lean part of the Agile umbrella. Let’s go into the details of each of these steps.

Visualize the Workflow

This step is the easiest one to understand yet may take the most work to actually complete it. This basically means to look at your entire process from when an idea/request is introduced to when it is complete and given the end customer. It takes time to identify all the steps that are currently done throughout the organization to complete the idea/request. This step is all about making the entire process transparent so that it can become better. The best way to do this is by using a large wall is very trafficked area and put the columns and pieces of work on the wall with cards or post-it-notes. Try to avoid using a software tool if possible.

Limit Work-In-Progress (WIP)

Once all the steps have been identified the organization or team will need to limit how much work is allowed in each of the steps. Use a process of try and adjust or to borrow from Scrum: inspect and adapt. There is no perfect number to use instead try one limit and then see how it works. It is too big then reduce. If it is too small increase it. Keep experimenting!

Measure Lead Time

This is the part that may give the most data or information to your organization. When an idea or request is introduced write a date on it. Then when that idea or request is complete write that date on it. Then you will know how long it took to get from the first step to the last step. This is used to make the entire process more efficient and to encourage the removal of bottlenecks. Then you will be focused on giving more direct value to the business or customer.

Enjoy and have fun making your Kanban board!

Image by LeanKit

Warm regards,

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