The Kanban method helps manage the way your team delivers value to the customer. Learn how to it in this article.
Published 23 Dec 2022
Kanban is a popular project management technique that advocates using visual cues to help teams track the progress of their work, with the word "kanban" originating from the Japanese term for "sign" or "visual board." Toyota created and utilized it as a just-in-time manufacturing scheduling tool. Moreover, a capitalized term known as "Kanban" is associated with the 2007 introduction of the "Kanban Method." Other industries have also adapted the Kanban method to improve their efficiency.
The Kanban method was developed by David J. Anderson, a pioneer in the field of Lean, as a method for the incremental, evolutionary process and system change for knowledge work organizations.
Kanban gives team members a clear picture of what needs to be accomplished and when. Having everyone on the same page reduces the risk of errors and duplication of effort. In addition, Kanban can help teams to identify and analyze bottlenecks in their workflow and take steps to improve efficiency. As a process visualization tool, its popularity is not surprising. As a result, Kanban has become one of the most popular project management methods in recent years.
It started as a scheduling tool for Lean manufacturing, which originated with Toyota’s Production System (TPS). Toyota began applying “just in time” manufacturing to its production in the late 1940s. A pull mechanism characterizes the technique. Rather than push production, where products and services are produced and pushed to the market, consumer demand drives manufacturing.
Their distinctive production method laid the groundwork for lean manufacturing, also known as Lean. Its main goal is to minimize waste activities while maintaining efficiency. The primary aim is to create more value for the client without increasing expenses.
While both are frameworks, the most significant distinction between Scrum and Kanban is that the continuous delivery model created by Kanban teams releases value as soon as they are ready, whereas Scrum organizes tasks into Sprints. However, using one approach or the other depends on your process type. The Kanban approach is more personalized than Scrum, which relies on predetermined norms. A critical difference between the two is their fundamental beliefs and mentality.
At its most basic level, Kanban is a work method that aids in the optimization of the flow of value from idea to the customer through your value streams. Although it appears straightforward, Kanban is far more than simply a visual representation of your job. To get the most out of utilizing the approach, you must pay close attention to detail and become familiar with the basic Kanban terms and artifacts.
Here are the main Kanban terms you should know.
The six methods are divided into two kanban principles:
It’s about continually improving current processes while pursuing evolutionary modifications. In this section, we’ll examine Kanban change management principles in more detail.
Kanban allows you to use the method alongside established workflows, systems, and processes without jeopardizing what exists. The approach recognizes that existing procedures, roles, obligations, and titles are worth and generally worth preserving. Naturally, it will point out problems that must be addressed and assist in assessing and planning modifications to ensure that they are as non-disruptive as possible.
The goal of the Kanban approach is to minimize resistance. It uses collaboration and feedback mechanisms to encourage continuous, minor incremental, and evolutionary modifications to the existing production process. There is usually a reaction of fear or uncertainty when it comes to sweeping changes.
All levels of leadership are formed and enhanced through people’s everyday insights and actions. Every shared observation develops a continuous improvement mindset (Kaizen) that helps teams, departments, and enterprises reach their maximum potential.
Kanban fosters a service-oriented mindset. It asks that you have a thorough knowledge of your customer’s demands and develop a network of services where individuals self-organize around their tasks.
Consumer value should be the focus of every business. Every firm’s top priority should be understanding its clients’ demands and expectations to provide quality services at a profit properly.
Manage the work in your network of services to allow people to self-organize around the job. You may focus on the intended outcomes without being distracted by micro-managing the service providers.
A service-oriented approach, once established, necessitates periodic reassessment to encourage a customer care mentality. Kanban encourages improved outcomes by monitoring the network and assessing existing work rules.
For Kanban to succeed, every organization must carefully follow the six practical rules. Here are the six core principles of Kanban.
Kanban boards help you visualize your company’s workflow. Your board should reflect your current work process and allow you to track your progress easily.
Limiting WIP helps teams focus on the task at hand and avoid multitasking. By capping the number of tasks each team member can work on at any given time, your team will remain focused.
Kanban aims to optimize workflow by eliminating bottlenecks and waste. Identifying and addressing these issues can help keep your workflow running smoothly.
Empower your team with SafetyCulture to perform checks, train staff, report issues, and automate tasks with our digital platform.
Kanban asks that you make all process policies explicit. Task assignment, work prioritization, and decision-making are all involved. Making these policies clear can help team members understand the expectations and avoid confusion.
Kanban includes a feedback loop to help teams identify and address problems quickly. It helps ensure that issues are handled promptly and avoid disruptions to the workflow.
Kanban is a collaborative approach, and successful implementations require buy-in from all team members. Working together can help ensure that Kanban is successful in your organization.
Continuous improvement and increased visibility of work are the main reasons for adopting Kanban. Some of the benefits that have been reported by those who have implemented Kanban include:
The basic concept of Kanban is to visualize all of one’s tasks. As a result, the Kanban board becomes a central information center where everyone is on the same page. Every job has its own set of functions, which are always visible, so there is no secrecy about the entire process. All team members can view activity or venture in real-time.
Kanban allows project managers to monitor and evaluate the distribution of work in various ways. Stages, where tasks have spent the most time, are easy to detect with a clear view of the work items completed for a specific duration. Bottlenecks are simple to identify because teams can address these problems to enhance their process and, as a result, their delivery rate.
Implementing Kanban processes can improve teamwork across organizational levels, including promoting transparency, encouraging feedback, and regular review meetings. The alignment between a company’s strategic plan and its implementation allows it to be more agile. It enables employees in teams to adjust to evolving market or consumer demands.
Flow metrics will help you analyze your process in depth once you’ve created a Kanban board and started collecting work items on it. It can show how long tasks spend in your workflow (cycle time). Understanding your delivery rate consistency (throughput) will help you make more accurate predictions and decisions based on past data.
The underlying Kanban technique of visualizing is likewise applied to mapping and managing dependencies. Mapping the present relationships and controlling the flow between them is the first step you can do right now. Controlling dependencies allows you to see what’s happening inside a workflow and how to improve it. Conversely, it allows for complete transparency regarding strategic management and team connections.
Based on the pull system, the Kanban method implies that work gets done when needed. To put it another way, Kanban directs you to reduce waste by working only on tasks that are currently required. Furthermore, by using visualization methods and establishing work-in-progress limits to the procedure, you can ensure that the conclusion meets your customers’ needs.
Kanban Board and Kanban Card are two commonly used Kanban tools in project management. Below, we’ll explore each in more detail.
Kanban boards visually show your tasks’ status as part of your workflow. This tool helps you stay on top of your tasks and keep track of their progress. Teams may use the following components to manage their workflows in the Kanban boards.
Kanban boards come in two types: physical boards and digital boards.
A Kanban card is a physical or virtual card that contains information about a task, such as a title, description, due date, and responsible person. The term derives from the Japanese term, Kanban, a visual (kan) card (ban). It’s an essential element of the Kanban method for monitoring activity progress along with a Kanban board.
Kanban cards can also be physical cards or digital cards.
SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) is a multi-purpose platform that can be used to complement the Kanban tools. Used by professionals in different industries, it helps standardize inspection processes, collect data more efficiently, improve the quality of products and services as well as keep the workplace safe and running efficiently. With SafetyCulture, you can conduct various types of inspections, such as safety audits, quality control checks, and maintenance inspections.
The following are some of the main features that make SafetyCulture an excellent companion for Kanban tools:
Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.
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