A Short and Sweet Introduction to Kanban

Want to know how to truly embrace continuous improvement?

Have you ever been a part of a project that takes forever to move to the next step or one perhaps that never even reaches fruition? This is actually quite common within the commercial world, given the myriad of demands that an increasingly sophisticated customer base is placing on industry in general now.

Having a true focus on continuous improvement and, not only meeting but, exceeding these customer expectations within your sector really is the key to business success. And the main driver of this is installing a robust continuous improvement process which becomes an integral part of your business culture.

So where does the Kanban system fit into this? How can Kanban help businesses to ensure that workflow is manageable and productivity is maintained at the correct level to meet this high-end customer demand?

Firstly, let’s explain the Kanban principles. The Kanban system is a method which enables an organization to visualize their working processes and encourages a collaborative culture, however complex and multi-stakeholder that organization might be. The Kanban process originated from Toyota’s Production System which was developed in the 1950s and began as a simple signaling system for its manufacturing workers. The name is derived from two words “kan” which means visual, visualization and “ban” which is card or sign.

The Kanban process has now evolved into a simple but sophisticated method well known for its “start with what you do now” evolutionary approach. There are a variety of software options on the market to make the implementation of the Kanban principles simple, one of which is Kanbanize, which offers a system designed to boost productivity by applying lean principles. Whatever Kanban option you choose, all stakeholders are able to track and control work in progress and businesses become much more efficient throughout the lifecycle of any given project. This, in turn, improves service delivery, and ultimately customer satisfaction, by taking variability out of the process while improving predictability and lead times.

When is a Kanban system right for your business?

If you have multiple stakeholder projects within your organization and have any or all of the following challenges, Kanban may be right for you:

  1. There is a need for greater predictability in delivery times

  2. Higher quality is required in deliverables

  3. Premature commitment to tasks is causing waste, reworking and extra planning

  4. The flow of work needs to be more smooth

  5. The process (and workers) are overloaded leading to poor quality and long, unpredictable delivery times

Implementing the Kanban method into your working practices will ensure you won’t be able to forget about a project ever again, unless of course you finish it or make a commercial decision to cancel it!

How so, you may ask? Well, with a typical Kanban system, there are three main components:

  1. Kanban Board

This is the visual part of the system where all work items are placed.

  1. Kanban Cards

These represent work items or, in other words,“work to be done”.

  1. Work In Progress (WIP) limits

These enforce focus, eliminate context switching and improve productivity.

You’ll also be able to measure and analyze projects and place essential focus on accelerating the growth within your organization. It really is as simple as that, no matter how complex your project work flows may be.

Kanban in a nutshell – what’s really in it for me?

Quite simply, embracing the use of a Kanban system will ensure:

  • Fewer customer escalations

  • Shorter time to market

  • Reduced cost

  • Fewer missed deadlines

  • Higher product quality

So that is a short and sweet introduction to the world of Kanban!

If you identify with any of the challenges we’ve highlighted here and want all the benefits too, you should definitely try Kanban project management.

At Kanbanize we can make implementing a robust continuous improvement tool as easy and quick to set up as possible, and you won’t require any training or expensive professional services. Click here to sign up for a FREE TRIAL.

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