Kanban is a tools that helps to manage the work by:


  • Vizualizing the flow of the process;
  • Limiting the Work in progress (WIP);
  • Active manage the work items in progress.


The visualization is done by a board that can be physical or on software. On the Kanban board, you have all the process steps, and you visualize all the item in each step. In image1 you can see an example of kanband board:

image1 - Kanban board
image1 – Kanban board

where:

  • Request, Analysis, Developing, Testing, and Release Ready are all the steps of your example process; they can be changed as you need. In this example, you also have a different sub-column for the In progress and done, but this is only an example of the process you can make it different;
  • The blu square is the single task item (in reality are sticky note or similar with the task written on it);
  • The flow is from left to right, except for the feedback loop where, if the item doesn’t pass the feedback come back. In this case, you can track (in the example with a red dot) the number of times the element returns for future analysis.

Remember that it is a pull system where people get item from one columm, moving it to the right one, only when they ended the current item.


Limiting the work in progress try to avoid to have to many task opened in this way:

  • The teams isn’t overwhelmed with work, making a better work and maintaining a better work environment;
  • Helps to keep low the Cycle time of each items (the time required from the first step to the last of the kanban board);

You can limit the WIP for each column or even give a specific limit to each one, or in our cases, give a WIP only to a particular sub-column.


Kanban board also helps to active manage the work in progress, in fact:

  • Helps to manage the rate of the items are pulled into the workflow at the same rate that they leave it;
  • Ensure that the item isn’t left in the same step because you can track the age of each item and the number recycle due to the recycle loop;
  • Look if there is a bottleneck and respond quickly. For example, if you have too much work in progress in the analysis and a low number in the testing, maybe you can bring a developer to the analysis.
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