Kanban from December 2008

I found this old post from December 2008, about my reflection on Kanban. Interesting to read my thoughts at that time J.

I do plan to write more about this subject in the future. I have got more learning since then from using Kanban techniques in different companies and also done some talks and workshops on Kanban.

A task board has been used by many teams when doing Agile development to have a shared place to manage tasks in the iteration. I have used it myself in a lot of different formats when working with R&D development, customer projects and also working together with offshore teams.

It can be a great tool for the team and creates more collaboration, feedback and risk mitigation when having a visible task board.

But, you might also have more frequent requests from other teams or customers and maybe you also work with maintenance tasks of existing products in production. It can be challenging to combine focus in the iteration with different ongoing requests.

One alternative approach to the traditional task board and iteration planning can be a Kanban system. Kanban is the Japanese word for visible card and originates from the Toyota Production System. It is used to minimize inventory, enforce Just-In-Time and eliminate waste.

I have used the Kanban approach to extend the traditional task board with limits on the number of concurrent tasks in different states to reduce work in progress and apply a more pull oriented process. When working with many different specialists in one team, I have also seen high value by extending the board with more states to manage the work of the different specialists. It makes it much more visible and easier to follow the flow and find wastes in the process.

In one team we combined the Kanban approach with a two week release rhythm and that enabled the team to both have a rhythm of planed activities and also do more frequent business requests depending on their capacity and the business prioritization.

The combination of the more traditional iterative processes together with a Kanban approach is very interesting, and I think many teams and organizations will find a lot of value and increased productivity looking into this area.

Posted on March 29, 2011, in Agile. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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