What is Kanban Process & How Can It Help My Team increase Flow of Value? It is more important than ever in today’s business world to be productive and efficient. This where the Kanban process can help. Kanban is a popular methodology that helps teams manage and complete tasks more efficiently. The key to Kanban is understanding and utilizing “flow,” or moving work from one stage to the next (continuous delivery) until it is complete. Kanban may be the answer if you want to improve your team’s productivity!

You’re always looking for ways to be more productive at work. New projects, tight deadlines, multitasking, and unexpected curveballs can throw off your day. Your team is too. You’ve heard of Kanban and think it could help you manage your tasks more efficiently.

If you’re struggling with Kanban, you’re not alone. Many people face challenges when they first start using Kanban. But don’t worry; we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common challenges people face when they use Kanban and how to overcome them. By the end of this article, you’ll be a Kanban expert!

Here’s a closer look at Kanban’s production process and how it can help your team be productive.

What is Kanban?  Where did the word originate?

First, Kanban emerged from the depths of the Toyota Production Mechanism as a scheduling system for lean manufacturing processes (TPS). The workers at Toyota automotive added a new “just in time” manufacturing technique to its production line as the late 1940s ended.

Although Taiichi Ohno invented Kanban in the manufacturing sector, David J. Anderson was the first to use the idea in IT.

This strategy was a pull system, as opposed to the usual push technique that encourages you to make items first, then push them out onto the market. The production follows client demand under a pull system. Their unique JIT production system served as the cornerstone for the development of lean manufacturing. Kanban’s primary goal is to reduce waste without sacrificing production, improving customer value without producing anything.

The word Kanban comes from the Japanese word that means “sign” or “card.” In the business world, Kanban is a system that helps teams visualize their work, track progress, and manage tasks more efficiently. Kanban dates back to the late 1970s and is a framework that helps teams visualize their work, optimize their process, and improve their flow. In recent years, Kanban has been adopted by software development teams like SCRUM as an Agile way of working to improve productivity and quality.

Scrum, however, divides work into sprints. Using either one depends on the specifics of your business. However, the Kanban tool is an excellent key to understanding and utilizing “flow.” Flow is moving work from one stage to the next until it is complete. When you understand the flow, you can see where bottlenecks occur and take steps to fix them. It helps your team be more productive overall.

Benefits of Kanban and How can Kanban help your team?

There are many benefits to using Kanban, including the following:

Improved communication

Kanban helps improve communication between team members by giving everyone a clear view of what needs to be done and who is working on what.

Increased transparency

Transparency is essential for everyone on the same page and ensures that tasks are completed efficiently. Kanban increases transparency by allowing everyone to see each job’s current process and status at every stage.

Better time management

Kanban can help your team manage their time by identifying and fixing bottlenecks. This can lead to a more efficient workflow overall and better project management.

Improved team productivity

By understanding and utilizing Flow, Kanban can help your team be more productive overall.

Now that we’ve gone over what Kanban is and how it can help your team, let’s take a closer look at the practices.

Kanban Practices

Even though mastering core practices is essential, it’s a lifelong effort; close to 40% of firms acknowledge that their use of the Kanban techniques is still developing. Organizations seeking to apply the Kanban methodology must be cautious with the operational procedures. For an implementation to be successful, six essential practices must be present.

Let’s examine more closely and learn about the six Kanban practices.

  • Visualize the workflow: The team needs to understand the work process and how it flows from start to finish. This is typically done by creating a Kanban board and populating it with cards representing each task.
  • Limit Work in Progress: Once the workflow is visualized, the next step is to limit the number of tasks in progress at any given time. This ensures that the team is focused on developing critical functionality and not overloading.
  • Manage Flow: The goal is to make sure work flows smoothly through the system, and that bottlenecks are identified and removed. It requires constant monitoring and adjustment of the process.
  • Make Process Policies Explicit: All team members must be on the same page regarding the process and how they follow it, which includes what constitutes a “done” task, who is responsible for each step, Etc.
  • Implement Feedback loops: Feedback loops are essential for ensuring that the process works as intended and for making necessary adjustments.
  • Continuous Improvement: Kanban’s goal is to continue to improve the process, which can only be done through constant experimentation and refinement.

As you can see, a lot goes into making Kanban work. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, it can be a powerful tool for increasing productivity and efficiency.

Common Challenges with Kanban

One of the common challenges people face when they don’t know how to use Kanban is that they cannot utilize “flow.” Flow is moving work from one stage to the next until it is complete. If you don’t understand the flow, you won’t be able to see where bottlenecks occur and take steps to fix them. It can lead to inefficiencies in your work and ultimately decreased productivity.

Another common challenge is that people don’t know how to implement Kanban. There are a few different ways to implement Kanban, but the most important thing is to start small and build from there. If you try to do too much at once, you’ll likely become overwhelmed and give up on Kanban altogether.

What is Flow? A Guide to Implementing KanBan

Flow can be considered a continuum from start to finish, with each task progressing through some steps before it is considered complete.

Utilizing flow in your Kanban workflow can help your team be more productive by understanding the process of moving work from one stage to the next. This guide will cover what flow is and how you can use it to improve your team’s productivity.

How does flow work?

Flow can be considered a continuum from start to finish, with each task progressing through some steps before it is considered complete. This simple concept allows Kanban teams to be efficient in their workflows. By understanding the flow of work, team members can better plan and execute tasks, leading to improved productivity.

The benefits of utilizing flow in your Kanban workflow

There are several benefits to using flow in your Kanban workflow. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that it can help your team move work through the Kanban process more quickly and efficiently. In addition, understanding and utilizing flow can also help improve communication between team members and identify potential bottlenecks in the workflow.

How to implement flow in your Kanban process

Implementing flow in your Kanban process is relatively simple. The first step is to identify the steps each task will need to complete. Once these steps are identified, you can begin to map out the workflow and create a kanban board that reflects the flow of work. Finally, it is essential to establish clear communications with your team so everyone understands the process and their role in making it work.

Flow is a simple concept that can significantly impact your team’s productivity. Understanding and utilizing flow in your Kanban workflow can help your team work more quickly and efficiently. Implementing flow is relatively simple and can be done following the steps outlined in this blog post.

Remember – Kanban is based on a “Pull System,” which moves from ‘right’ to ‘left.’ It is an evolutionary change. Following the practices and principles of Kanban will help you move forward in the right direction.

Tips for getting the most out of flow in your Kanban workflow

You can do a few things to get the most out of the flow in your Kanban workflow.

First, it is crucial to ensure that everyone on your team understands the concept and is on board with utilizing it in their work.

In addition, it can be helpful to create a Kanban board that is visually easy to understand and use.

Finally, you should regularly review your workflow and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that it is still working well for your team.

How to implement Kanban Process

There are a few different ways to implement Kanban, but the most important thing is to start small and build from there. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Use sticky notes: A great way to start using Kanban is by using sticky notes. Write down each task on a separate sticky note and place them in kanban columns on a whiteboard or wall. It will help you visualize your work and get a feel for how Kanban works.
  • Use kanban software: If you want to take things a step further, many kanban software options are available. These tools can help you track progress, assign tasks, and manage your work more efficiently.
  • Train your team: Once you’ve decided how to implement Kanban, train your team on the new system, which will help them understand how Kanban works and how they can use it to be more productive.

Kanban is a great way to help your team be effective. A Kanban system is more than just a wall of sticky notes. Adopting the Kanban principle and using it in your daily job is the simplest way to comprehend it. The practical shift would appear reasonable and inevitable if you read, understand, and agree with its fundamental ideas.

Give it a try and see how Kanban can help your team work more efficiently! Your process will go far beyond what you could have imagined with the help of workflow visualization, defining WIP limits, regulating flow, assuring specific policies, and continuous improvement. When all of these components are organized, the true potential of Kanban will become apparent.

Kanban may be the answer if you’re looking for a way to improve your team’s productivity. Kanban is a flexible approach that can be customized to fit the needs of any organization. If you’re interested in learning more about Kanban or implementing it at your organization, several resources are available to help you get started, or reach out to Leadership Tribe.

And there are several kanban books, such as The Kanban Method and Kanban from the Inside. Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business, written by David J Anderson, can help you learn more about this approach to work.

Kanban FAQ’s

What Are the Key Kanban Terms You Need to Understand?

At its core, Kanban is a working style that enables you to maximize the flow of value via your value streams, from ideation to customer, in real-time.

Kanban is more than just visualizing your work, even though it appears to be a simple solution to enhance your work processes.

Kanban

To use the Kanban technique effectively, you must pay close attention to detail and familiarise yourself with the fundamental concepts and artifacts.

  • Kanban board: The kanban board is the visual representation of work in progress. It’s a flexible tool that can be used to manage any work, from simple tasks to complex projects. The Kanban board consists of three columns: To Do, In progress, and Done. It is a workflow management tool.
  • Kanban cards: Kanban cards are used to track work items as they move through the kanban board. Each card represents a task or work and contains information about that task, such as its title, description, assigned person, and due date.
  • Columns: The kanban board consists of three columns: To Do, In progress, and Done.
    • The To Do column represents the work that needs to be done.
    • The In Progress column represents the work that is currently being worked on.
    • The Done column represents the work that has been completed.
  • Swimlanes: Swimlanes are used to organize the kanban board further. They can divide the board into sections or group items by project, team member, or other criteria.
  • Work in Progress (WIP): Work in progress is the work that is currently being worked on. In Kanban, the work-in-progress limit is a fundamental principle that helps to prevent team members from becoming overloaded with work.
  • WIP limits: The limit is the maximum number of items in the In Progress column at any given time. This ensures that team members are constantly working on the most critical tasks and prevents them from starting new work until the current work is complete.
  • Classes of Service: Classes of service are used to categorize work and prioritize tasks. In Kanban, there are four classes of service: Critical, High, Medium, and Low, also known as Expedite, Intangible, Fixed, and Standard.
  • Kanban Cadences: Kanban cadences are the regular intervals at which the kanban board is reviewed and updated. There are two types of cadences: Team Level Cadence and Service Oriented Cadence.
  • Team Level Cadence
    • The daily stand-up/ Workflow Kanban meeting: The daily stand-up is a short meeting (usually no more than 15 minutes) where team members review the kanban board. They update each other on the work completed, the work currently being worked on, and any impediments or issues.
    • The weekly review / Workflow replenishment meeting: The weekly review is a meeting where team members review the kanban board and discuss any changes that need to be made. This is usually done at the end of the week.
    • Flow Review / Retrospective meeting: The flow review is a meeting where team members review the Kanban board and identify any areas of improvement. This is usually done monthly, but some teams do run it bi-weekly.
  • Service Oriented Cadences
    • Operations Review – The Operations Done Biweekly is used to help service delivery organizations identify and track the progress of kanban projects. The operation review is a session similar to the Service Delivery Review. Still, it involves a more significant portion of the organization (such as a department, many dependent teams, or even an entire small business). It prioritizes ensuring global flow over local optimizations and customer demand.
    • Blocker Clustering – Blocker Clustering is a monthly meeting that helps organizations identify areas of risk profiles associated with specific activities or adjustments and then take appropriate action, such as assigning a new service class or using suitable scheduling, as an example. It applies to all organizational levels. A reasonable time to bring up any departmental or team-level process obstructions (blocks) is during the risk analysis meeting. Using this blocker clustering technique will give you insights into how to lessen workflow obstructions and the possibility of project delays.
    • Strategy Review – this is the top-level gathering that reviews and modifies the strategy in light of data from your markets and consumers. It’s a chance for you to confirm that you are still acting morally. Now is the time to assess your business’s viability and operating model’s suitability.
  • Kanban Metrics: Several kanban metrics can be used to measure the performance of a team or individual. In Kanban, the most crucial metric is throughput. Other kanban metrics include cycle time, lead time, and work progress.
    • Cycle Time: Cycle time is the amount of time it takes to complete a task, from start to finish. In Kanban, cycle time is measured from when a task enters the kanban board until it is marked as done.
    • Lead Time: Lead time is the amount of time it takes to complete a task, from the moment it is first started until it is marked as done. Lead time is measured in Kanban when a task enters the kanban board until it is marked as done.
  • Throughput: Throughput is the number of tasks completed in a given period. In Kanban, throughput is measured from when a task enters the kanban board until it is marked as done.
  • Kanban software: Kanban software is used to manage kanban boards and projects. Many different kanban software tools are available, such as Trello, Jira, and Asana.
  • Kaizen: Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “continuous improvement,” is also an essential aspect of the Kanban approach. The kaizen mindset constantly seeks ways to improve processes and increase efficiency, which aligns with the principle of continuous improvement in Kanban. By adopting a kaizen mindset, teams can continuously improve their workflow and ultimately achieve better results.

Learn more about Kanban and Earn a Kanban Certification upon completion with our Kanban Training program.

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