When to use Kanban within your organization?

Unsure if you should use Kanban within your team? Here is when you should implement Kanban.

In this guide, we will look at when you should use Kanban within your team and how you can get your team ready and adopt Kanban.

Your team has less time for planning meetings

One of the first principles of kanban is to make small incremental changes to existing processes. Teams that want to start a new approach to project management without turning existing processes upside down will naturally find a good fit with the kanban methodology.

Your team has a repeatable workflow that can be visualized on a board

It also helps if your team has a broad set of steps that repeat themselves for different tasks. This makes it easy to visualize your entire workflow on an online kanban board. Teams which have a wide variety of user stories which require flexible workflows may not find it easy to maintain and practice kanban.
Kanban is a better fit for teams that strive for consistent delivery of features and updates rather than working with mvps and releases of iterations.

To summarize, you can use Kanban if

  1. You want to implement a system without overhauling your existing workflows entirely.
  2. You have a largely repeatable process for work to pass through.
  3. You want to limit planning and meetings to focus on delivery.
  4. You want a continuous delivery of features and improvements rather than delivery in fixed releases/cycles.

Getting your team ready for Kanban

Once you have decided to adopt kanban for your team, the next step would be to get everyone on the same page to ensure maximum chance of success.
The various stakeholders could include people in senior management, software development teams, designers, QA and other individual contributors.

Management buy-in

The first step to adopting Kanban in any organization is getting management approval. This can be done by submitting a proposal highlighting the Kanban methodology and how it helps improve the team’s current processes. It is important to set the correct expectations and present a concrete implementation plan.

One of the advantages of Kanban is that it does not require an overhaul of existing processes. Teams can start by mapping their existing flows to a kanban software and start tracking progress. The only initial commitment needed is the commitment to observe and make incremental changes to improve processes and outcomes.

Educating Development Teams

After getting management buy in, it is essential to get your teams organised to use kanban boards effectively. Educating the development team about the kanban methodology and how tasks are going to be tracked from start to end should be top priority. Kanban, being an incremental change is usually easy to implement.

Summary of Kanban

  • The Kanban methodology helps teams track progress by visualising their workflows on a  kanban board.
  • It works great for teams that have little time for meetings, a desire to avoid any big changes to existing processes and a repeatable process that can be captured and visualised.
  • Managers and leaders often find it easier (when compared to other methodologies like scrum) to obtain management and team buy-in to implement kanban as existing processes are not touched.Kanban can be implemented on whiteboards with stick-it notes or with online project management tools.
  • The first step to implementing Kanban is capturing the existing process in detail. Once this has been done, the next step is to construct the team’s Kanban boards with correct columns.
  • Once the board has been set up, chaos is limited by enforcing WIP limits on columns. This is when development can begin.
  • Team members work to maintain continuous flow of items across columns. They are constantly working to handoff items to the next column. This way the team is constantly delivering features and new work items are being added to the board.
  • Daily standups are the only meeting that Kanban teams regularly conduct. This meeting is used to quickly review progress, identify roadblocks and ensure that progress is smooth.
  • The team can track a variety of metrics and use charts like cumulative flow diagram to understand their process and the team’s performance better.
  • Kanban teams are committed to incrementally improving processes. Teams can hold review meetings once in a while to review processes, suggest and implement process changes if required.