Kanban and Logistics Make a Perfect Pair

Learn about how UK logistics business LOVESPACE is applying Kanban in their process to stay ahead of the game and structure the development process of the service tool their are building.

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LOVESPACE is Europe’s leading by-the-box service providing self storage without the hassle. It was the first to introduce this innovative storage model in the United Kingdom and, since 2012, has helped over 12,000 people store their belongings. LOVESPACE collects your items from your door, stores them for as long as you need and then delivers them back anywhere in mainland UK. They price by-the-box, making them more flexible and affordable than traditional self storage units.

Everything LOVESPACE does is exceedingly well done…. from the ease of use of their web site… to communications regarding pick-up and delivery”, shares one of their happy clients.

The company now has two offices, continually developing and improving its services further. In order to keep improving their productivity, LOVESPACE has adopted the Scrumban method for visualizing their process and creating a breakdown of their work. The method is a hybrid between Scrum and Kanban, using principles and techniques from both. As their team is operating from different locations in the United Kingdom, the company started using Kanbanize in the summer of 2015, in order to achieve an online application of Kanban that includes all teams.

LOVESPACE has adopted Kanbanize for product development and use the tool mainly with their tech department and product managers. Their marketing department is involved as well, as they tend to generate lots of ideas and need to follow much of what is listed on the company’s Kanban boards in order to structure their own process. Everyone else in the company has access to Kanbanize as well.

Their tech department uses the tool to develop a consumer app, an operations app and manage their website. The team of product managers at LOVESPACE got together to show us how they are using Kanbanize to make sure their business stays on top and innovative.


 

What’s a typical day at LOVESPACE like?

We have drivers across the UK as well as people in our warehouse facilities receiving and then allocating items to shelf locations. All these processes are managed by our in-house tech platform. As a result, we are able to reduce operational inefficiencies whilst providing a convenient and inexpensive storage solution for our many customers.

We manage our in-house tech projects based on Agile principles and use Kanbanize to assist us with our delivery. Sprints are run on a two-week cycle and within them daily scrum sessions, fortnightly retrospectives and progress update meetings are held. A typical day therefore depends on how far into the sprint we are!

Since we are a small team, we only run one daily scrum which lasts no more than five minutes. As we grow, we’ll increase the number of scrum sessions so that each session never exceeds five minutes in length. These daily sessions are essential to help us focus on our objectives for the sprint whilst maintaining the flexibility to solve urgent issues as they arise.

Developers use Kanbanize on a daily basis as they work towards completing their tickets and keeping track of their progress. Product managers spend their time scoping solutions for the business and working across departments to solve any blockers for the tech team, all through Kanbanize.

When did you adopt Kanbanize and was the transition easy?

When we moved from an outsourced development model to an in-house team our developers suggested we use Kanbanize to manage the workload.

The previous tool we used to work with was similar, but we found that Kanbanize was best suited to how our business operates. Kanbanize is flexible, modular and easily configurable; it can respond to our needs as they change, and we can format everything as we need it. Since Kanbanize is a very user-friendly tool, the transition was easy.

Once the transition was made we also began building upon the functionality that Kanbanize could afford us. We now have burn rates reported on a daily basis, across sprints and across projects. This has allowed us to become better at scoping sprints, estimating workloads and re-prioritising where required.

How did you organize your work processes before?

In the earlier days of LOVESPACE, we used JIRA as our product management tool. At the time there wasn’t a product or tech team and the focus for our development work was on building the core platform. The priorities were easy to define as it was essentially standing up our concept.

Back then, we followed a similar process that we use now:

1.Define a problem/requirement.

2.Scope out the solution, keeping in mind user cases and implications across the platform.

3.Develop the solution on a staging environment.

4.Test.

5.Deploy and collect feedback from users to iterate the solution. We go through the process again until we have a product that meets user needs.

This worked well while the focus was mainly development.

How have you structured your boards?

Our ‘Projects’ are split into four categories: sprints, projects, products and past projects. The structure of each ‘Board’ depends on which ‘Project’ it sits under.

Since we still outsource some of our tech, our sprint boards are split into two swimlanes. One swimlane is where tickets that are assigned to our own tech team are placed and the other swimlane is for tickets that we assign to outside developers. There are also eight columns within each sprint board which help us monitor the progress of each ticket. For example, we have an ‘Approved for Live’ column where completed tickets that have passed testing are moved over to when they’re ready for release.

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2 lanes, one LOVESPACE and one for external developers

5 sections: Backlog, Requested, In Progress, Done and Archive

Within the Requested section, 3 columns: New, Scoping, Ready to Start

Within the In Progress section, 5 columns: Started, Completed on Dev, On Staging, Failed Testing, Approved for Live


 

The LOVESPACE swimlane is where tickets are placed if they are to be completed by our own developers.

The External Developer swimlane is where tickets are placed if they are to be completed by outside developers.

Backlog: Tickets that won’t be completed this sprint and either will be moved to the next sprint or back to the relevant project board.

Requested: Tickets that are in scoping stage.

In Progress: Tickets that are currently being worked on.

Done: Tickets that have passed testing and have been released onto the live site.

Archive: Tickets that are no longer necessary to complete.

New: Tickets start off in this column, they have not yet been looked at by the tech team in enough detail.

Scoping: Developer assigned to the ticket is currently working out what this ticket requires in order to complete it.

Ready to Start: Tickets are sized, fully scoped and understood by the developer

Started: Tickets that have been started.

Completed on Dev: Tickets that have been completed but yet to be released onto the staging environment.

On Staging: Tickets that have been released onto the staging environment and are waiting to be tested by the Product Managers

Failed Testing: Tickets that do not meet the specification of the Product Managers.

Approved for Live: Tickets that have passed the testing stage and are ready to be released onto the live site.

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A great way to automate the movement of cards on a board similar to that of LOVESPACE is to use Kanbanize runtime policies, especially those concerning the automation of subtasks, to automatically move cards to the column before Approved for Live when all of their subtasks have been completed. With just a few clicks, the cards can be set up to move to a desired column when subtask status changes or to create a new subtask every time a card is moved.

What would you point out as the greatest benefit that came with using Kanbanize?

We see Kanbanize as a great tool to record all the ideas we generate. We have provided every department with access to Kanbanize and set it up so that everyone can provide ideas and concepts on how to modify, improve and scale the business. All of these ideas are reviewed and managed through to implementation using Kanbanize. We’re working to make LOVESPACE the smartest service company so connecting all our teams and organising our efforts in this way is essential.

Kanbanize has helped us make sure we never lose an idea, that we make sure to scope and test it and ultimately that when an idea is brought to life for our customers, that it has gone through a rigorous enough process that ensures it meets their needs.

LOVESPACE is an outstanding company that aims for the top of the storage management business and clearly understands the benefits of the Agile principles of work. The company is fond of using the Scrumban method, a Scrum and Kanban hybrid, and they have found a great way to apply it using Kanbanize. We are sure that LOVESPACE will continue to surpass their targets by improving their efficiency further.