The business world of the 21st century has reached a new level of flexibility due to the widespread emergence of distributed teams. Remote teams have become part of the company culture of many organizations in all scales of business and it is not an unusual occurrence, even for a small company, to have employees collaborating from a distance. Larger companies often have more than one base of operations. Depending on the scale, the offices might be placed in different buildings, cities, countries and even continents. One thing that all companies, which rely on teams working from different places, have in common is the need for an effective project management system, to prevent their physical distance from disrupting their workflow.
Project management systems provide a comprehensive toolset that helps managers guide their teams efficiently, whether they collaborate under the same roof or there are several time zones between them. What makes these unifying digital process management systems so useful is that they visualize clearly the tasks of each person and outline deadlines and due dates. In addition, they boost productivity, allow better communication between teams and help managers to oversee the entire workflow.
Although there is a variety of methods which are used as a base for the available project management solutions, their basic goal is the same – to boost performance. In order to do so, they use relatively similar features which support the teams’ work process by:
- Helping them understand their resource capability through planning and visualization tools.
- Assisting the decision-making process by helping managers prioritize projects and tasks and assign them to individual team members.
- Organizing and improving the consistency of project planning.
- Allowing team members and management to see the current progress of a project or task in real time.
- Providing teams with an arsenal of tools for measurement of stats like productivity, progress, cycle time of tasks, and etc.,
- Improving response times to expected and unexpected issues.
Kanban is among the preferred methods which have been applied in the creation of modern project management systems that nurture flow and streamline process. This is due to its simplicity and easy adoption for teams in many industries such as software and product development in general, marketing, banking and many others.
The Federal University of Technology – Parana, a public university with twelve different campuses in the Brazilian state of Parana, is host to a graduate project that proposes an analysis of using Kanban as a support method for teaching distributed software development in graduate courses. The groups of undergraduates work in a simulated distributed environment in order to develop a common project.
Graduate student Rubem Cardoso, leading the project under the advisory of Professor Alexandre L’Erario, comments on the group’s concept so far, how their work will continue and how they are using Kanbanize for their process.
What is the main goal of your project?
Essentially, we are gathering data about how Kanban may help distributed teams because the literature up to 2013 has based most of its studies on co-located teams. We want to expand on the use of the method and be more specific for various use cases.
How large is your team of students?
We’re working with 40 students, all part of a technology class separated into groups. These groups will work on parts of the same project, separated physically to simulate a distributed environment.
How is the Kanban method working for you?
Kanban has proved very efficient on the lean environment as well as the software development environment, although it is relatively new to it.
How do you use Kanbanize for your process?
We are using Kanbanize not just to manage the project itself but also to discover how it can be applied in the specific scenario of distributed teams.
What is your favorite feature of Kanbanize so far?
My favorite features of Kanbanize are actually the set of tools it provides for a better understanding of the individual and team workflow. This way, I can monitor how the project is progressing. The analytics are a particular favorite because they can be as specific or as general as I need them to be.
Good luck to Professor L’Erario, future professor Rubem Cardoso and their team in Brazil!