An Introduction to Kanban MethodologyMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
Kanban is an agile methodology that incorporates concepts like pull system, queuing theory, and flow etc. and work done is pulled through backlog and into individual queues. Kanban system is basically a technique which was originally designed for assembly line management by Toyota in 1940. In simple Kanban work flow, the work is organized in terms of tasks or functionalities/modules and is loaded to a “To Do” queue in order of priority. The resources pick their next task up from the top of the “To Do” queue and move it to “In Progress” queue and once the task is done, it is moved to the “Done” queue. One main assumption of Kanban is that the all the resources are generalists and are able to perform all tasks. The product owner or the Project Manager has to mainly focus on keeping the “To Do” queue updated at all times with the expectation that any resource is able to start working on the next task immediately after completing a previously undertaken task. A Kanban Board can range from 3 to “n” number of queues and modifications, depending upon the requirements of the team. The most important aspect of Kanban is that it helps teams improve collaboration and make the process policies explicit.
Kanban Board Example
Core Principles of Kanban
Kanban has been specifically focusing on 3 core principles:
The team should be able to visualize the work flow and everybody is on the same page regarding work status. Information Radiators are the most useful way of displaying the updated information.
- Limit WIP
One of the main control Kanban provides is to limit the work-in-progress, so as to know how many tasks a team can work at a time. The fewer the tasks limit set for WIP, the quicker the work is expected to be completed and vice versa.
- Manage Flow
The queues can help define the flow of work executed in Kanban methodology. Since it is assumed that generalists work in Kanban model, so this principle eliminates bottle-necks or waiting time.