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Kanban 101: How to Use Kanban Boards to Manage Your Project

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Today Kanban is one of the most popular methodologies of software development. It is widely used by teams and companies all over the world. A Kanban board, or a Kanban task board, is one of the best practices of this methodology. But what do we know about it? Let’s find out.

Before giving the Kanban board definition it is necessary to describe the main principles of Kanban methodology and the history of its origin.

Today most people know Kanban only as a software development methodology. However, it originated in the business sphere. Initially, it was designed for manufacturing. Kanban originated in Japan in the late 1940s. It was invented by the employees of Toyota Corporation as a project management system. Its main idea was to deliver the final product to the customer just in time. In the 1940s, it was not a simple task. However, the new project management system performed it successfully.

Initially, Kanban was based on three main principles:

The first principle allows companies that use Kanban to create only the necessary production. The first thing they do before starting manufacturing activities is learning the customers’ demands. It is very important, because if the final product does not meet the requirements of the customers, it fails on the market.

The principle of visualization is no less important for any Kanban project. It is related to the topic of this article because the visualization in Kanban is provided by the Kanban board. It allows the managers of the companies that use Kanban to see the progress of their work. It is extremely important because it gives them an ability to forecast the results of their activities.

The principle of WIP limitation is important because of the fact that it allows the enterprises to improve the quality of their production. The quality of the product cannot be high if the enterprise performs too many tasks at the same time. It is better to work on one or two tasks and to deliver the product of high quality in time.

These three principles allow us to implement Kanban in any industry including software development. In software development, it is usually defined as one of the Agile methodologies. Kanban projects are usually based on strong customer involvement into the process of work. The client is represented by the team member named the Product Owner. He is responsible for gathering user stories and prioritizing them in the product backlog.

Like other Kanban projects, Kanban projects in software development are based on the three above mentioned principles. Visualization of workflow is probably the most important of them. It is based on the concept of a Kanban board.

The Kanban board is a vital tool for software development project management. Its definition is quite simple. Actually, it is just a table with several columns. There are two categories of Kanban boards. They can be either physical or digital. Of course, most modern software development companies use digital Kanban boards. However, the functionality of Kanban boards is always the same regardless of their form.

Kanban boards were designed to visualize the workflow. The principle of the Kanban board’s work is simple. The table is subdivided into several columns (in software development – usually in four columns) that symbolize the stages of work that every task should pass before it is done. The tasks are placed in these columns according to the stage of their performance. Kanban board provides the teams lots of advantages. It allows them to see the progress of their work. It also helps define the problems that occur during the period of project realization.

Hence, Kanban board is an indispensable means of software development. Modern Kanban project management applications have upgraded this tool significantly. Now it is available to visualize your workflow not only on the Kanban board, but also in forms of various charts, schemes, and diagrams. It simplifies the work of software development teams significantly.

Kanban project management applications also allow the developers to create digital Kanban boards. They are much more convenient than their physical analogs. There is no need to write anything on sticky notes and put them on the board. Now any software developer can add tasks, or make other changes in the Kanban board without leaving his computer.

Kanban board is a real Agile means of project management. It allows the team to see its workflow, forecast its results, and make some changes if it is necessary. Such type of project management leads Kanban teams to success. It is probably the best methodology of software development that allows the team to deliver a high-quality product to the customer within the shortest amount of time.

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