Kanban definition. Initially, it arose as a scheduling system for lean manufacturing, originating from the Toyota production system(TPS). In the late 1940s, Toyota introduced “just in time” manufacturing to its production. The approach represents a pull system. This means that production is based on customer demand, rather than the standard push practice to produce goods and push them to the market.
Their unique production system laid the foundation of Lean manufacturing or simply Lean. Its core purpose is minimizing waste activities without sacrificing productivity. The main goal is to create more value for the customer without generating more costs.
Kanban Framework : The Simplest Agile Methodology
Kanban is a popular framework used to implement agile and DevOps software development. It requires real-time communication of capacity and full transparency of work. Work items are represented visually on a kanban board, allowing team members to see the state of every piece of work at any time.
Kanban is one of the simplest frameworks used as it allows project managers to efficiently manage and keep track of their projects. A distinguishing feature of the Kanban framework among different agile methodology is its compatibility with the existing organizational setting.
The methodology uses physical or digital boards to represent a team or organization’s unique process. The essentials of a Kanban board are as follows:
- Work items are represented by cards on the board, similar to a sticky note.
- Each step in the process is represented by a vertical lane or column. The labeling of the columns can be as simple as “To-Do, Doing, and Done”, or can be more specific according to your process.
- The cards are then moved from left to right across the board to show where each work item is in the process.
Through providing shared visibility, Kanban allows teams to focus and collaborate more effectively. A Kanban board gives a real-time snapshot of backlog and work in progress, making it easy to decipher what work needs to be done and when.
Kanban has 4 principles and 6 core practices:
- Start With What You Do Now
- Agree to Pursue Incremental, Evolutionary Change
- Respect the Current Process, Roles & Responsibilities
- Encourage Acts of Leadership at All Levels
- Visualize the workflow
- Limit work in progress
- Manage flow
- Make process policies explicit
- Establish feedback loops
- Improve collaboratively
Nowadays, many organizations adopt the Kanban method to become more agile and bring order to their chaotic work processes. Simply said, a Kanban system helps you get more work done.
How does Kanban work?
Kanban method revolves around the kanban board. It is a tool that visualizes the entire project to track the flow of their project. Through this graphical approach of Kanban boards, a new member or an external entity can understand what’s happening right now, tasks completed and future tasks.
Kanban board indicates
- the current tasks that are being performed
- the tasks to do in the future
- the tasks that are completed
Electronic Kanban (E-Kanban):
An online Kanban board is a web-based Kanban software, supporting you in managing tasks and projects with colorful sticky notes tracked on a virtual board. It lets you use your own computer screen to visualize, control and optimize workflow and collaborate with other team members in real-time. A characteristic unique to an electronic Kanban board is the opportunity to analyze work on its built-in metrics
Electronic Kanban boards, or online Kanban boards, are the next generation of kanban in project management. While many teams still benefit from using whiteboards, cork boards, and sticky notes to visually manage their work, many more have turned to electronic Kanban (eKanban) as a way to save all past and present project data in one place.
There are many benefits to using an eKanban, including:
- Increased team efficiency through improved communication and collaboration
- Decreased time spent in status meetings
- Ability to easily manage projects and adapt to changes
- Enhanced flexibility: With no prescribed phase durations, Kanban allows teams to easily re-prioritize using real-time information. Because everyone shares access to the board, there is no time lost communicating changes in priority or process.
- Transparency: Kanban allows teams to share one view of work in progress, eliminating the need for questions and daily status updates. This frees up project managers to spend more time improving the process and workflow.
- Focus: The ability to see up-to-date information makes it easier for team members to focus on what’s most important at any given time, rather than getting sidetracked by competing priorities or status questions from other team members.
- Productivity: Teams can use Kanban to make immediate and long-term improvements in productivity and efficiency.
Trying to learn what is Kanban could be hard at first but now that you know what it is, you can make the most out of the main benefits of Kanban:
- Physical and digital Kanban boards help you visualize your work
- Kanban is easy to adopt and - just start with what you have
- WIP limits empower you to become more efficient
- The Kanban principles and practices offer an evolutionary path towards agility without disrupting the current processes