Kanban project management method of the Agile methodology

Kanban is a modern method for DevOps software teams these days, and even though it is considered an Agile methodology method, Kanban precedes Agile by 30 or more years. After WWII, Japanese car companies, Toyota, came to mind, aiming to improve their manufacturing processes by adopting the models that supermarkets had pioneered to keep stock on their shelves. Supermarkets stock almost everything upfront on their shelves, and the quantities are based on the prognosis of consumer demand. This method makes it more efficient to manage overstock, keeping it to a bare minimum, and assures that the consumer will find the product they want most of the time.

When large factories applied the supermarket inventory system to build their products, teams would use "Kanban" like cards when more items needed restocking for continuing manufacturing to other groups that managed inventory. The warehouse would deliver the parts and, in turn, send their Kanban cards to their suppliers. The system continues to improve with technology, but its basics remain the same and have acquired the name of the "just in time" (JIT) manufacturing process. The history of Kanban proves that Agile is not just for software developers and can adapt to any enterprise.

Kanban Boards:

All the work, a Kanban team, performs is centered around a Kanban board. A Kanban board is the visual tool that helps review a project's progress at once and optimize the project's flow. Physical boards are popular, but more and more digital apps are taking over, making the Kanban board accessible from anywhere improves efficiency. Atlassian’s software and Salesforce or MS dynamics bridged with our CRM plugin make digital Kanban boards shine.

Kanban Cards:

The translation of the Japanese word "Kanban" is "a visual signal." In the Kanban method, each work item is a Kanban card on the Kanban board. By representing a work item as a card on a Kanban board, team members can track the work progress thru the workflow visually. Kanban cards include information about the item, who is responsible for the item, a brief description of the work to be performed, how long the thing will require for completion, etc. Kanban cards can also include graphics and technical details to help the team member complete the work item correctly. Kanban cards can provide product owners with traceability of the workflow at any given moment in the timeline. It also provides the team members with details that ensure focus, full traceability, and identification of blockers and dependencies.

Kanban Benefits

  • Planning flexibility:

Kanban teams focus "only" on their active project. The team's next project is the one on top of the backlog. Product owners are free to reprioritize the work in the backlog without disrupting the teams because changes outside the current job do not affect the team. If the product owner keeps the most important work at the top of the backlog, the production teams will deliver max value back. If the group follows the rules of Kanban, there is no need for fixed-length iterations.

  • Shorten time cycles:

A cycle is the time it takes for a unit of work to make its way through the team workflow, from the start of a project to the final delivery. When cycle time is optimized, teams can confidently forecast future deliveries. Overlapping skill and cross-training can minimize cycle times by avoiding bottlenecks in the workflow often created by a single team member responsible for a task and that team member's backlog. Teams employ basic best practices code reviews, in the case of software delivery, mentoring, for skilled labor, to help attain a more distributed knowledge base among the members and therefore achieve even faster cycle times. Sharing knowledge is an essential best practice means that in some instances, all team members can contribute to a persnickety issue and maintain a smooth flowing process. Kanban requires that all team members be responsible for the work flowing unimpeded thru the system.

  • Fewer bottlenecks:

Kanban does not include or encourage multitasking. The lack of focus on a single task reduces efficiency by requiring the repetition of such functions due to errors caused by inattentiveness. Simultaneously performing more than one task leads to more context switching, forcing mistakes leading to backups. A central tenet of Kanban is to limit the work in progress (WIP) and, by doing so, limit bottlenecks and stoppages due to lack of focus, workers, or skills.

  • Visual metrics:

A significant core value of Agile methodology is the continuation of improvement in the final product. Kanban achieves a better consumable each time by continuously improving the process with tram effectiveness and team efficiency in each iteration of work. A visual metric, the Kanban board, and the Kanban card help visualize project status at-a-glance. Two other tools are reports such as control charts and flow diagrams.

  • Continuous Delivery:

Releasing work to customers frequently is a definite market and marketing advantage for companies as it keeps competitors always trying to catch up to the latest innovations. Continuous integration, the practice of designing, building, and testing throughout the process, and including the resulting advancements in each of the product releases work very well with and complements the Kanban JIT methodology.

Kanban vs. Scrum:

Both Kanban and Scrum are Agile methodologies and therefore share some concepts, but they have very different approaches and should not be confused with one another. Many teams will use a hybrid method or create a process for their implementations that better match their needs and products. No matter which method your team chooses, the Goldfinger CRM plugin will ease the communication pipeline setup.

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