What is KANBAN and Where it is Used

Kanban is a system of visualizing workflows and processes that was developed in Japan in the 1940s.

It is based on the principles of Just-in-Time production and has been widely adopted in the software development industry.

The system is designed to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and improve communication between teams and departments.

Through the use of cards, boards, and other visual tools, Kanban allows teams to easily track the progress of tasks, prioritize work, and ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner.

It is based on the Japanese term for “visual signal” and was originally developed by Toyota to manage its production processes.

In Kanban, tasks are represented by cards on a board which are grouped into columns based on their current status.

The columns are then used to track the progress of a project and identify areas of improvement.

By implementing a Kanban system, teams can improve communication and collaboration, reduce bottlenecks, and increase overall productivity.

Origins of Kanban

Kanban was developed in the 1940s at the Toyota Motor Corporation by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer.

He developed the system in response to the need for efficient production processes.

The idea was to use a visual system of cards to track and manage the production of parts and components. The system was later adopted by other companies in Japan, and eventually spread to other countries.

Today, Kanban is used in a variety of industries, including software development, manufacturing, and project management.

The Kanban Board

Kanban boards are an incredibly powerful tool for tracking tasks and improving workflow.

The Kanban board is a visual representation of workflows and tasks, enabling teams to better understand what needs to be done, who is responsible for it, and when it needs to be completed.

The development of a Kanban board starts with a good understanding of the workflow and the tasks that need to be completed.

This will determine the structure of the board, including the number of columns and the tasks that will appear in each column.

Once the structure is determined, the team can start creating the board and populating it with tasks.

When setting up the board, it’s important to consider the size of the tasks and the number of people who will be working on them.

This will help determine how the board should be divided up and how tasks should be grouped.

It’s important to consider the workflow and ensure that tasks are properly sequenced.

Once the board is set up, establishing a process is needed for how tasks will move from column to column.

This should include how tasks will be prioritized and who will be responsible for them.

In addition, it is required to have a plan for how the board will be monitored and updated.

Finally, everyone on the team should be aware of the board and how it works.

This means having regular meetings to discuss progress, and ensuring everyone has access to the board.

Having everyone on board with the Kanban board will ensure that tasks are completed in an efficient and timely manner.

Benefits of Kanban

The key benefits of Kanban are –

Increased Visibility: Kanban boards provide an easy way for everyone to see the current status of tasks and projects at any given time.

This increased visibility helps to keep teams organized and accountable, as well as fostering communication and collaboration.

Improved Efficiency: By providing a visual representation of workflows, Kanban boards help to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies more quickly.

Teams can adjust their processes and workflows accordingly in order to increase efficiency.

Reduced Waste: By helping teams identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, Kanban boards also help to reduce waste and streamline processes.

Teams are free to focus on tasks that are important and get rid of tasks that may not be necessary or beneficial.

Improved Accountability: Kanban boards help to hold everyone in the team accountable for their tasks and performance.

This helps to create an environment of accountability and responsibility, which can lead to better cooperation and collaboration.

Flexibility: The boards are highly flexible and can be adapted to any workflow, making them suitable for all types of projects and teams.

This makes them an ideal choice for teams that are constantly changing and adapting their processes.

Improved Quality: By making it easier to identify and address issues quickly, kanban boards can help improve the overall quality of a project.

Teams can deliver better results and reduce rework.

How Kanban Works

To illustrate how Kanban works, let’s use an example of a grocery store.

In the store, a customer places an order, and the storekeeper needs to fulfill this order.

With Kanban, the storekeeper creates a card for each order, with the details of the order written on the card.

The card is then placed on a Kanban board, which visually organizes the tasks that need to be done.

The storekeeper can then create additional cards for each step of the process.

For example, one card might represent stocking shelves, another might represent collecting the items, and so on.

Each card is placed in the appropriate column on the Kanban board, based on the stage of the process it represents.

This visual representation allows the storekeeper to quickly see what tasks need to be done, and in what order.

Once the storekeeper has completed all the necessary tasks, the order is ready for the customer. The Kanban board is then updated to reflect the order has been fulfilled.

Kanban can be used in any kind of project, from software development to manufacturing.

It is a great way to visually organize and track tasks, making it easier to manage workflows and ensure that tasks are completed on time.

Best Practices for Kanban

There are some best practices for creating a Kanban board –

Define your workflow: Analyze and map out the process of each stage of your workflow, including the tasks and duration of each stage.

Create your kanban board: Use a physical board, digital board, or other software solution to create a kanban board that illustrates and tracks the tasks you identified in step one.

Add WIP limits: Set realistic work in progress (WIP) limits to ensure that tasks are not getting blocked or forgotten.

Visualize and monitor progress: Use the kanban board to visualize the progress of each task and monitor the overall progress of the whole project.

Monitor cycle time: Track how long it takes for tasks to go from start to finish and use that data to look for areas of improvement.

Use metrics: Use metrics such as throughput, lead time, and average cycle time to measure the effectiveness of your kanban system.

Refine and adjust: Regularly review the data from your metrics and adjust the workflow or WIP limits as needed.

Criticism of Kanban

Kanban has been criticized for a number of reasons.

One of the most common criticisms is that it can become unstructured and chaotic when implemented without proper procedures and processes.

Without clear goals and objectives, it can be difficult to track progress, measure success, and ensure that tasks are being completed in a timely manner.

Additionally, Kanban can be resource-intensive and can require large amounts of time and energy to maintain.

Lastly, Kanban is not well-suited for complex projects that require more structured approaches.

Kanban Tools Online

There are a variety of kanban tools available online that can be used to create and manage kanban boards.

Some of the best kanban tools include Trello, Asana, Jira, and Meistertask. All of these tools have features that make them great for managing projects and tasks.

Trello is a popular kanban tool with a simple, visual interface.

It allows users to create boards and cards and move tasks through a series of columns. Trello also has a number of integrations with other popular tools, such as Slack, Google Drive, and Dropbox.

Asana is another great kanban tool that is popular with teams of all sizes.

It has a number of features such as project templates, task comments, and boards. It also has an extensive list of integrations, including with popular project management tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Jira is a powerful kanban tool used by many large organizations.

It has features like sprints, stories, and sprint boards. It also integrates with popular development tools, such as GitHub and BitBucket.

Meistertask is a great kanban tool for teams of any size.

It has a visual interface, task comments, and boards. It also integrates with popular project management tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

No matter which kanban tool you choose, it is important to make sure it meets the needs of your team and project.

Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the one that best fits your team’s needs.