Kanban Method – Main Principles and Activities

Kanban Method

It may be a challenge to produce work in a fast and successful way. The Kanban Method proposes controlling workflow, emphasizing quality improvement without overburdening the productivity and efficiency-focused development team. Kanban is a form of workflow management for describing, managing and improving services providing information work. It aims to help you envision your work, optimize results, and continually improve.

Initially, Kanban was developed to control production processes for Just in Time (JIT). The next chapter in Kanban’s history implemented new methods and ideas to make it more effective for information employees. Kanban means billboard or signboard in Japanese. It later became a territory claimed by Agile software development teams, originating from manufacturing. It has recently begun to be recognized by business units across different industries.

There are also misinterpretations, as more and more people learn about Kanban.

Exactly what is Kanban? How can a Kanban system be built?

Talking about the Kanban board, the Kanban method rotates. It is a tool that displays the whole project to monitor the project flow. Via these Kanban boards’ graphic methods, a new participant or an external agency will understand the current activities, completed tasks, and potential tasks.

Jeff Bezos Career Advice
Jeff Bezos Career Advice

Here are the most important things about the system and its practical implementation that you need to read.

What’s the Kanban Method?

Initially, it (Kanban system) emerged as a lean production scheduling system originating from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Toyota introduced its production “just in time” in the late 1940s. A pull method reflects the solution. This means that manufacturing is based on consumer demand rather than on the traditional push practice of making products and getting them into the market. Its special method of production the groundwork for Lean production or simply for Lean production. Its key goal is to reduce waste operations without reducing efficiency. In simpler terms, the key objective is to generate more value for the client without creating more costs.

The Kanban System:

Major players in the tech sector soon realized at the beginning of the 21st century how Kanban could transform the positive delivery of goods and services. Kanban has left the automotive industry with a stronger emphasis on productivity and computer technology advances to cover other diverse business areas, such as IT, software, R&D, and other industries. Indeed, at the beginning of 2007, what we now recognize as the Kanban System with all the core components emerged.

By setting up the simplest Kanban board with three basic columns, “Requested,” “In Progress,” and “Done,” you can begin constructing your Kanban system. It acts as a real-time information repository when properly designed, managed, and running, highlighting bottlenecks within the system and anything else that could disrupt smooth working practices.

But how is it that the Kanban approach works?

The 4 Main Principles/Activities of Kanban: 

The Kanban method has been proposed by David J. Anderson (a pioneer in Lean/ Kanban for knowledge work) to approach gradual, evolutionary processes and change structures for knowledge work organizations. It focuses on getting things done, and it can break down its fundamentals into four basic principles and six procedures.

  1. Start What You’re Doing Now: The versatility of Kanban enables current workflows, structures, and procedures to be overlaid without affecting what is already being done successfully; naturally, it can illustrate problems that need to be resolved and assist in assessing and planning improvements so that their implementation is as non-disruptive as possible. The flexibility of Kanban allows you to implement it progressively without fear of over-commitment or ‘cultural shock’ to all types of organizations, as you do not need to make sweeping changes right from the start.

  2. Consent to Seek Progressive, Evolutionary Transformation: To meet minimal resistance, the Kanban methodology is built. This facilitates constant small gradually and evolutionary improvements to the current phase. In general, sweeping changes are discouraged because they typically face resistance due to fear or confusion.

  3. Compliance with the Current Procedure, Duties & Responsibilities: Kanban agrees that current procedures, positions, tasks, and titles have meaning and are, in general, worth retaining. The Kanban approach does not preclude improvement, but it does not recommend it as a “panacea” either. It is designed to facilitate and foster gradual, rational changes without creating fear of change itself.

  4. Promote All-Level Leadership Acts: This is Kanban’s newest principle. This teaches you that leadership comes from individuals’ regular activities on the front line of their teams. To achieve optimum performance at the team/department/company level, everyone needs to cultivate a continuous improvement mentality (Kaizen). This can’t be an operation at the management stage.

The 6 Kanban Activities

Each organization must be careful with the practical steps when aiming to adopt the Kanban process. As specified by David Anderson, six-core practices must be present for effective implementation.

  1. Visualize the Flow of Work: 

It would be best to have a board with cards and columns to visualize your method using a Kanban system. Each column on the panel is a workflow process. A work item is shown on every Kanban card.

The first thing you need is to understand what order is required for a product to be made. You can only hope to change the process with the requisite modifications if you understand how it actually operates. You take it off the “To Do” column when you start working on item X and, when it is finished, switch it to “Done.” In that way, progress and bottleneck can easily be monitored.

  1.  Work in Progress Limit:

One of the primary functions of Kanban is to guarantee at any time a manageable number of active things in development. If there are no constraints for work-in-progress, you’re not doing Kanban. Switching a team’s attention halfway through would generally damage the process, and multitasking is a sure path to waste and inefficiency generation.

Limiting WIP means adding a portion pull framework or the whole workflow. Setting maximum items per stage means that a card is only ‘pulled’ into the next level when there is sufficient space. These constraints can easily highlight problem areas in the flow so that they can be detected and resolved.

  1.  Managing Flow:

Managing the flow is about handling the task, but not the individuals. We mean the movement of work items through the manufacturing process by the flow. One of the primary objectives is to create a smooth, balanced flow when implementing a Kanban scheme. We should concentrate on handling the job processes and learning how to get the work quicker across the system, instead of micro-managing individuals and attempting to keep them busy all the time. This would mean that value is generated more easily by our Kanban system.

  1.  Make Clear Process Policies:

Something you do not understand you can’t change. This is why you should specifically identify, post, and socialize your method. Individuals would not associate and partake in anything that they do not think will be beneficial. If everybody is comfortable with the common objective, they will collaborate and make positive impact choices.

  1. Loops of Feedback:

Implementing feedback loops is a mandatory step for teams and businesses that want to be more agile. They ensure that organizations adapt appropriately to future changes and enable the transfer of information between stakeholders. The regular stand-up meeting for team synchronization is an instance of such a feedback loop. This takes place in front of the Kanban board, and each member tells the others what they did the day before and what they are going to do today.

The service delivery analysis, the activities review, the policy review, and the meetings for risk management are included. The frequency depends on several factors, but the principle is that they are routine, straight to the point, at a strictly defined hour, and never overly long. The optimal average length of a stand up should be about 10-15 minutes, though depending on the team’s size and subjects, some can go up to an hour or more.

  1.  Collaborative Enhancement (using models & the scientific method):

Within an organization, the way to accomplish quality improvement and positive change is through a common vision of a better future and a mutual awareness of the problems that need to be addressed.

Teams with a common understanding of their priorities, workflow, process, and risks are more likely to establish a shared understanding of a problem and work towards progress together.

*Kanban: The Optimistic Hand*

Many companies now follow the Kanban approach to become even more flexible and restore stability to their turbulent working practices. Merely said, a Kanban system would help you get more work done. So, let’s explore a little bit deeper to see the real advantages of using Kanban.

  • All are on the same page

Kanban’s basic concept is to imagine each piece of work on a whiteboard. The Kanban board is thus turned into a central knowledge center. All activities are clear, and they never get lost, adding clarity to the entire work process. Each member of the team should provide a quick update on any project or task’s status.

  • Kanban exposes defects in your workflow

Once a Kanban board has been generated and cards filled, you can see that certain columns are overcrowded. This helps you find and fix bottlenecks correctly in your workflow. For example, you will see how huge projects should be so that your team can move them along quickly.

  • Kanban as an alternate path to agility

The Kanban Method allows you to develop your product and service delivery increasingly. This is achieved by minimizing bottlenecks, improving the flow, and reducing cycle times in your system. It allows you to have more continuous input and make any adjustments that your customer might need. It allows you to respond more. Kanban offers all of the Agile Manifesto concepts and lets you deliver goods and services that you really need on your business. Kanban will enable you to develop the processes for enhancing your teams and organizations’ efficiency, whether you already use Scrum and other agile methods or methodologies.

  • Kanban’s versatility

Looking at Kanban’s basic concepts, you can soon realize that every team can use them, from R&D to HR. The key explanation is that Kanban doesn’t need any drastic changes and is in line with your organization’s current state. Instead, it recommends that you seek positive, progressive change and continue to develop.

  • Your team is getting more responsive

Kanban was created to meet the customer’s actual demand only in time, rather than putting goods on the market. Kanban makes it today easy to respond to constantly evolving customer requirements in the field of information work. It allows teams to be more agile, adapts to changing priorities, reorganizes, or quickly shifts focus.

  • You concentrate on working together to improve productivity and teamwork.

One of the key benefits of Kanban is that teams have to concentrate on their current tasks until they are complete. Thanks to the principle of restricting work in progress, this is possible. Limiting WIP allows teams to work together more quickly to complete work items and reduces distractions such as context switching and multitasking. At the end of the day, the team’s productivity will be affected.

Modern-Day Kanban

Kanban has also been developing continuously with the advancement of technology. To overcome the issues that emerge in remote teams, digital Kanban board solutions have been created.

  • Simple access for members of remote teams

Teams are also spread all over the world nowadays. They cannot operate on a physical whiteboard and instead need a digital one that they can access to be more agile from anywhere. The most powerful way to get everyone on the same track is with Kanban boards in the cloud. At any time, they provide access to all the data from any system and demonstrate behavior live.

  • Analytics for flow

Also, Kanban software enables a sophisticated analytical process to help you track performance in-depth, identify bottlenecks, and make the appropriate adjustments.

  • Integrations with other instruments

With other systems, digital boards are also easy to incorporate. They can provide a valuable view of the entire operation, save time, and improve productivity.

  • Automation workflow

You can automate some parts of your procedures and save precious time with the online Kanban solution. Any standard workflow can be made more effective with custom automatics.

To make a long story short Kanban is,

A system of Kanban is more than sticky notes. The best way to understand the concept of Kanban is to use it for your everyday work. The realistic change will seem rational and even unavoidable if you read and understand, and resonate with the four core principles.

Viewing workflow, creating WIP boundaries, controlling the flow, ensuring clear policies, and improving collaboration can take the method far beyond your thinking. Remember to arrange daily feedback loops, which together demonstrate the true power of Kanban.

Roles- Given the approach of Kanban to start and improve the current method, there are no positions specifically requested when Kanban is adopted. Using the positions you have in your team at the moment.

In practice, two positions have arisen that serve unique purposes. It is highly probable that, as stated below, these roles are filled by someone in an established position.

  1. Director of Service Request- Understands clients’ desires and aspirations and encourages collecting and ordering at the Replenishment Meeting of work products. A product manager, product owner, or service manager is often responsible for this role.

  2. Manager for Service Delivery- Responsible for the flow of work for consumers to deliver select goods. Facilitates Kanban Meeting and Preparing for Execution. Other names include flow manager, distribution manager, or flow master for this role.

How to Enforce Kanban?

When it comes to Kanban, remember the very first step?

Make noticeable work. The way teams do this is to build, with columns and cards, a Kanban board. We might claim there are four columns at their most basic:

  1. Backlog-The backlog of the product.
  2. To Do-all assignments that have not yet begun.
  3. Ongoing—Tasks that have begun.
  4. Done- Finished assignments.

A Kanban card is occupied by each mission and pushed across the board as it advances across each state. Tasks pass seamlessly between states in the ideal situation. There are, in reality, bottlenecks and flow impairments. Implement a device with a pull. Quite often, as work is forced down the line by management, team overload and late work in the workflow springs up. As more and more work has been initiated, nothing is actually achieved due to constant multitasking and context-switching. 

A successful solution to solving the problem is to introduce a Kanban pull method. The pull system implies that activities are pulled from the boards. To-Do list by team members if and only if they can handle new work. Management determines a task’s priority in a pull system by assigning service groups before putting it in the To-Do column. Once the delivery team has an empty slot for new jobs, the job is taken out. This is the dedication point.

Lifecycle for Kanban:

Since work items appear to flow in a single piece flow through a Kanban system, and each system is different concerning phases in its workflow, the best way to explain the Kanban method’s lifecycle is through the feedback loops involved.

These loops of feedback (cadences) are:

  • Examination of Policy (Quarterly): Choose the services to be given and the sense in which those services are suitable.

  • Reviewing Activities (Monthly): Know the balance between and across programs, including the deployment of individuals and resources to optimize value distribution.

  • Analysis of Risks (Monthly): Know and respond to delivery risks in services.

  • Review for Service Delivery (Bi-Weekly): Examine and optimize a service’s effectiveness. This is analogous to a retrospective that focuses on strengthening the system of Kanban.

  • Meeting for Replenishment (Weekly): Identify topics that the team will work on and decide which work items will next be chosen. This is similar to a sprint or iteration preparation meeting.

  • The Meeting of Kanban (Daily): For the day, a team working on service schedules their operations. This is close to a daily standup.

  • Meeting for Distribution Preparation (Per Delivery Cadence): Track and schedule supplies to clients.

Principal Contributions:

The Kanban Method formalized the information workflow methodology and created a way for companies to optimize their software development processes and implement agile values and concepts without having to undergo significant cultural change first.

Examples of the Kanban Methods

The uniqueness of Kanban is in its simplicity. In fact, Kanban doesn’t want to imagine the method of using sticks or electronic cards on a whiteboard ( or an electronic board). It’s a lot more, as you can see from above. If you apply these principles and procedures methodologically, you will really benefit from their implementation.

Current trends worldwide show that Kanban is becoming increasingly common and used in a wide range of fields, from small businesses and beginners to conventional organizations of all sizes.

Finding ways to do things more efficiently becomes a requirement – irrespective of your company. Lean is a general expression for how waste is eliminated and productivity is improved. During the Lean processes

Many Lean concepts can be extended to any form of company or business, from software production through accounting systems to domestic activities developed in manufacturing environments.

Kanban Lean Activities:

The implementation of Kanban and other lean development methods, such as Kaizen, can have considerable advantages for virtually any job. Kanban is more productive because it visually shows when development should begin and end. It’s simpler, more efficient than most other production models, and saves a lot of money. It also responds much more explicitly to consumer demand.

Also read Kаnbаn – A Complete Guide & Steps To Use

Kanban Method – Main Principles and Activities

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