Introduction

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a methodology originally developed by Toyota to be more efficient.

There are only two constraints imposed by Kanban:

  • Visualize your workflow
  • Limit your work in progress

Visualize your workflow

  • Your work is displayed on a board so that you have a clear overview of your project
  • Each column represents a step in your workflow

Limit your work in progress

  • Encourages focus by avoiding multitasking
  • Each phase can have work-in-progress limits
  • Limits help identify bottlenecks
  • Limits avoid working on too many tasks at the same time

Performance Measurement

Kanban uses lead and cycle times to measure performance:

  • Lead time: Time between task creation and completion
  • Cycle time: Time between task start and completion

For example, you may have a lead time of 100 days but only have to work 1 hour to complete the task.

Kanban vs Todo lists

Todo lists:

  • Single phase (just a list of items)
  • Multitasking possible (not efficient)

Kanban:

  • Multiple phases, each column represents a step
  • Bring focus and avoid multitasking by setting a work-in-progress limit per column

Kanban vs Scrum

Scrum:

  • Sprints are time-boxed, usually 2 or 4 weeks
  • Do not allow changes during the iteration
  • Estimation is required
  • Uses velocity as default metric
  • Scrum board is cleared between sprints
  • Scrum has pre-defined roles like scrum master, product owners and the team
  • A lot of meetings: planning, backlogs grooming, daily stand-up, retrospective

Kanban:

  • Continuous flow
  • Changes can be made at any time
  • Estimation is optional
  • Use lead and cycle time to measure performance
  • Kanban board is persistent
  • Kanban doesn’t impose strict constraints or meetings; the process is more flexible

Usage Examples

You can customize your boards according to your business activities:

Software development

  • Backlog
  • Ready
  • Work-in-progress
  • To be validated
  • Validated
  • Deployed in production

Bug Tracking

  • Reported
  • Confirmed
  • Work-in-progress
  • Tested
  • Fixed

Sales

  • Leads
  • Meeting
  • Proposal
  • Purchase

Lean Business Management

  • Ideas
  • Development
  • Measure
  • Analysis
  • Done

Recruiting Process

  • Job offers
  • Candidates
  • Phone screens
  • Interviews
  • Hires

Online Shops

  • Orders
  • Packaging
  • Ready to send
  • Shipped

Manufactory

  • Customer Orders
  • Assembly
  • Tests
  • Packaging
  • Ready to ship
  • Shipped