Kanban at Scale: 4-Step Guide to Adopting Kanban Across Whole Company
Kanban was first introduced as a scheduling method used in manufacturing. The basic idea of Kanban (as a tool for scheduling and displaying everyday work) is much older, but the term defines how the system works, and gives specific tips for people battling with large workloads and competing priorities.
Every corporation should adopt Kanban based on its type of business and everyday needs, but the essence of the Kanban is the same: a visual presentation or permission to adapt inventory and/or production levels.
Kanban will require you to know the entire project, how it works and resolve what functions will be sized up or down to fulfill your particular needs. There is no rule how much you can scale Kanban, but it will be good to create the system with space for enlargement, either physically or across processes, departments and business units.
1. Know your current situation and internal processes
When your company has decided to implement a Kanban system, you may need to build the system quickly without making a complete analysis of your current state. The advantages of using the Kanban method are well known, which means many organizations want to create their Kanban quickly and start getting these benefits. It is important to take the time to analyze your current situation fully and understand where the concrete improvements can be made.
Before you choose the type of Kanban tools you will apply, ensure you have a good view of where you are today. This will help you to size your Kanban for the process at hand, and it will also give you a benchmark by which to measure your implementation, progress, and improvement.
2. Think about today and plan for tomorrow
When you have determined your current status with the help of tools, it is time to put into practice your personalized Kanban solution. There are simple visual management tools which will increase your productivity by applying lean principles to your project. You can design your schedule, cooperate with others and follow different metrics out of the box. Again, it is important to consider the size. Your Kanban must meet your needs today but also allow to grow in the future.
It will be a good idea to identify other items that could benefit from the Kanban method. If your company already uses Kanban, an ambitious project including all products and lines is possible, but newbies to this system may want to start with a pilot project on a stable product with a goal of adding others later.
Training is an important issue in the Kanban implementation that is often forgotten. It is significant for the team to design and deploy the system in order to consider each type of user. Some items look apparent and understandable in the context of a planning meeting, but could not prove to be so when in place or in production. What you learn during your first training sessions will help you scale to broader training for additional employees.
Don’t under-train! After your initial Kanban simulation, the production team could have the ability to adopt it. Team members (such as managers, engineers, and logistics personnel) will mostly be willing and receptive to Kanban tools, but when training end users, you must try as many different scenarios as possible. Define the duties the team members should not undertake, unless the Kanban instructs them to. Be careful not to over-simplify your training.
4. Maintain the system
Once you have adopted Kanban, your job is only half done. It is important to continuously emphasize the benefits of Kanban. It wasn’t introduced for the purpose of change. It is designed to improve the process, lower the inventory, the work in progress, and save money. Saving money is something every employee at every level can understand, so describe the advantages of Kanban in dollars. Let people know that their continued dedication to your organization’s Kanban has a positive effect that can be seen almost every day.
Should you start small?
You will go through many of the important considerations of Kanban as they relate to organization’s size. You may conclude that it is necessary to begin small and later to increase it up to cover all aspects of your business. This is not necessarily true. If the culture in your factory or company is open to change, Kanban implementation can be relatively straight-forward. However, many established businesses with a fixed inventory control and production system find that planning and implementing a Kanban project in phases will lead you to success.