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Cumulative Flow DiagramGet to know one of the most insightful tools associated with Kanban
Cumulative Flow Diagram is a fundamental tool of Kanban method. It allows the team to visualize their effort and the project progress. When there's an impediment about to occur within the process - this is where you'll see it first. Instead of the graph staying smooth and gently rising, there will be a bump, a sudden ascend or descend. So, as far as predicting problems goes, this is the tool you need.
What does it show?
The Cumulative Flow Diagram shows the way the tasks mount up and their distribution along the different process stages.
The graph is built from different colored bands of tasks gathered in different columns. One color per column - each band tells you how many tasks sits in what stage of the process in a given time (the horizontal value).
How should it look?
The best diagram you want to see is an evenly rising one, with bands staying more-less even, except for the "completed tasks" ban, which shall be continuously getting taller, as the number of tasks done is hopefully always growing.
What to look out for?
What you don't want to see is a sudden rise within any band of tasks. This will undoubtedly point to an issue. From successive accumulation of tasks in a certain band you can also foresee bottlenecks - and by this make an effort to try to stop them.
Another thing you do not want to see is the band related to tasks "in progress" widen vertically - as this means that the number of tasks being handled at present is too large and therefore the whole project will most likely be delayed.
Who can benefit from it?
The CFD only requires 3 basic things from the process - a Backlog, an In Progress column and a Done section - using this division allows you to see the information in the diagram well. Therefore, any team that utilizes this kind of workflow division can benefit from Cumulative Flow information. Whether you use Scrum, Kanban or any other custom project management method, as long as you organize it in task groups, the CFD will be helpful to you.
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