How Can KANBAN Help Me?

Overview

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On this weekend while I was busy setting up VPN in my laptop, I received an email from one of my former colleague. The email was big with a lot of concerns about KANBAN used in his workplace.

If I summarise the whole email, it would be something like this

Is really KANBAN helpful?

My team is having a KANBAN board since 3 months. But I don’t see any difference in our ways of working other than maintaining the KANBAN Board on a regular basis.

Well my short answer to him was It Depends!
Let me explain you why I answered It Depends.
Kanban is only a method or a tool which can show you the scope of improvement in your work.  Whether you act on that scope and try to improve it, it depends on you. We cannot expect a tool to do all the job.

What You Can Expect From Kanban

Kanban would help you visualize your work and your workflow.
It will help you to see where the bottlenecks are, where most of the work is piling up.  
But to remove that bottleneck or to decrease the piling of work items, you need to act on it.
You need to find out the possible reasons for the bottleneck and try to experiment different ways to remove the bottlenecks.

Limiting work in progress is another important aspect with which KANBAN can help you.  

Why Limiting Work In Progress Is Important?

Limiting work in progress is very essential to stop you from taking too much work which the workflow cannot handle.

Workflows always consists of various stages. For an entire workflow to be efficient we have to look at it in a holistic way.

We have to see whether each of the stage is capable of pulling the work items which the previous stage is delivering. If not, then the work will keep piling up in one stage.

So for an efficient flow, at some point we have to stop starting and start finishing.
Limiting the work in progress will help us to identify when we need to stop starting and start finishing

How To Limit WIP?

There is no formula or perfect steps to limit your work in progress. All you have to do is keep experimenting.

To start with, you may have the WIP limit based on the number of people working on the work items – one item per person at any given point of time.

Or you may have some historical data of which all stages in the workflow are more time consuming and which are less.

Accordingly you can start with some WIP limit and observe if the WIP limit is working out fine. If the team sees the need to modify WIP limit, they can do it anytime – Inspect and Adapt

If the team sees the need to modify WIP limit, they can do it anytime – Inspect and Adapt

Conclusion

So coming back to my colleague’s question – Can KANBAN bring any difference in your way of working?
Yes it can, only if you allow it.

Kanban is a tool which can help you to see the improvement opportunities. But if do not agree to act on it or do not wish to experiment your ways of working then you can never see the difference.

Have fun 🙂

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