Kanban Project Management: Quick Start Guide to Kanban Implementation
Kanban methodology is now very popular among software developers. Companies and teams all over the world use it to run their projects. That is why many software developers are interested in a question: “How to implement a Kanban system?” The answer is not as simple as it may seem to be. Nevertheless, in this article, we will try to answer this question properly. To understand what we should do for the implementation of Kanban system it is necessary to find the proper definition of Kanban and describe its basic principles.
Kanban is a project management system that originated in Japan in the late 1940s. That may come as a surprise for people who think that it is only a popular software development methodology. Initially, Kanban was invented for manufacturing. At that time the famous Japanese corporation Toyota had big problems with the delivery of its production. It needed to change something in its manufacturing process. The managers of the company had to invent a new system to improve the quality of production and the delivery performance. It was called Kanban. This word is usually translated from Japanese as a bill board or a task board. That is because of the use of special devices called Kanban boards that allow the managers to visualize the workflow of the enterprise.
Initially, Kanban project management system was based on three main principles.
The first principle is consideration of the customer’s demands. The inventors of Kanban knew that the product can be successful only if it is required by the client. Hence, it is necessary to learn the customer’s demands before starting the manufacturing of a new product.
The second principle of Kanban is workflow visualization. Companies that have implemented Kanban usually use Kanban boards. These are simple devices that help the managers to visualize their workflow, analyze it, make forecasts, and alter their strategies if the product does not meet the requirements.
Limitation of work in progress is the third principle of Kanban system. Its main idea is to avoid performing too many tasks at the same time. That allows the enterprise to focus on the quality of its production and terms of its delivery. The importance of this principle is defined by the initial goals of the Kanban system which is aimed at delivering the final products on time.
All the above-mentioned principles can be applied to software development industry. But it is not so simple to implement Kanban in your software development company. If you want to do that successfully, you should learn the following instruction.
There are lots of instructions that tell what you should know while implementing Kanban system. Some of them define ten steps, others – twelve or more. We will define only five simple steps. The main thing you should know is that they are not sequential.
To implement Kanban in your company you should complete all of them.
Step 1 – Workflow visualization
As we have already mentioned, visualization is one of the main principles of Kanban. It is probably the simplest step required for its implementation. All you have to do is to create a Kanban board and place your tasks on it. Modern software developers prefer to use digital Kanban boards because they are more convenient.
Step 2 – WIP limitation
This is also one of the basic principles of Kanban system. Your team cannot create a high-quality product if it performs too many tasks at the same time. Limit your work in progress amount and you will see how your efficiency improves. Kanban development teams usually have two or three tasks in process. That is because of their small sizes.
Step 3 – Explicit policies
As you are working on a certain project, you must know exactly the result you want to achieve. All means that you are using should be defined by it.
Step 4 – Flow management
To implement Kanban at your software development company you should learn to manage and measure your workflow.
Step 5 – Scientific method
Use scientific approach to define the advantages and disadvantages of your work.