…if you’re ready to achieve a shorter time to market at a reduced cost.
These are just two of the benefits of embracing a Kanban system – others include less missed deadlines and customer escalations and, ultimately, better product quality. Simply put, the Kanban method will enable your organization to visualize your working processes and enable a collaborative approach to your projects, however complex and multi-stakeholder they may be.
In its most manual form, the Kanban system uses a whiteboard and different colored post-it/sticky notes. Here’s a step by step guide to creating your first Kanban workflow:
To start, you need to identify each step in your workflow process, then create a column for each of these on a whiteboard or flip chart, from left to right in the order in which they occur.
Next, write down each task within each step of the process on a post-it/sticky note, using a different color to represent different types of work and/or stakeholders.
To instigate the Kanban process, you would then put them all on the left-hand column and move each one across the columns until it is completed and leaves the workflow, at which point it is removed.
Even at this manual, but still very visual level, introducing the Kanban method will help to improve your service delivery by taking variables out of your work processes, whilst at the same time improving both visibility, predictability and lead times.
The key to truly embracing Kanban
The real key to embracing the Kanban process is to limit your work in progress, as Kanban is all about maintaining flow and eliminating waste. So, put limits on the columns in which work is being performed. How? Avoid teams pushing too much work through before others later in the process are ready for it – instead, implement a pull system – where the next team in the workflow pulls work only when they are ready for it. This will definitely ensure a smoother flow.
Now the manual form of the Kanban method is all well and good but, practically, in the fast-paced world in which we work, is it really going to have the required impact on your business? If you are remotely serious about enabling continuous improvement within your organization then you really have to invest in a tried and tested Kanban software product.
How does Kanban work online?
The board within Kanban software will, in general, be similar to the physical one we’ve depicted already. In Kanbanize, for example, a basic Kanban board consists of three main areas: Backlog, Workflow and Archive.
Backlog is where you add your to-do items, which appear in the order they have been added.
Workflow has three stages – Requested, In Progress and Done. These are not affected by how your workflow is structured, how complex it is or how many columns appear.
Stage 1: Requested
Here you place the work items from the Backlog that you plan to work on next, organized in the order they will be tackled.
Stage 2: In Progress
Every item that has been pulled from “Requested” and hasn’t been completed is “in progress”. It remains so until it is completed or removed from your workflow.
Stage 3: Done
Only when tasks are completed are they then pushed into “Done”.
Archive is where you can move completed items to keep your board uncluttered but still remain accountable for finished tasks.
Where has the implementation of Kanban been a success?
One such company that chose to introduce Kanban using Kanbanize is Your Portuguese Translation, a distributed translation agency specializing in English to Portuguese translation mainly within the USA, Brazil and Italy. The different geographical bases for their teams combined with the necessity to all work on a project led this business to seek a way to manage projects in a lean fashion.
Feedback from Federico Morato, Founder and Project Manager of Your Portugese Translation, on introducing Kanban to their business was very positive: “Benefits are immediately tangible: customers are more satisfied because I can answer more responsively to their requests at any moment, even when I am not in the office. I can manage projects more effectively with less effort, having details on a subtask level and having all the information I need shown in a simple, immediate and visual way. Last but not least, I can also manage issues and problems in a more timely fashion.”
So ultimately, what will embracing Kanban mean for your business?
Improvements in customer satisfaction from better service delivery, resistance to changing external conditions and a real improvement in productivity as well as the capability of your business to adapt and thrive.
Whatever your Kanban software preference turns out to be – introducing the Kanban process in this way is a perfect solution for any business with distributed teams that wish to introduce real-time collaboration and improve communication, while allowing you to keep track of all tasks and projects, and the measurement of them, all in one place.
If you identify with any of the aspects we’ve focused on, it is time to embrace Kanban within your business.
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. Simply start your free trial to access our custom Kanban board presets for different scenarios: