Kanban Software Development Kanban boards for software development teams

Kanban is a simple agile "best practice" method that focuses on creating a continuous workflow - and ongoing value for the customer. Its aim is to visualize and improve any software development process. The end result is a development pipeline that is predictably and efficiently delivering high value work.

It has been estimated that in 2012 more than 80% of all software development processes were utilizing Agile methods, like Kanban. This article will give you a basic understanding of Kanban in software development processes.

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Core principles for Kanban in software development

Kanban method has three basic principles that everyone should follow to achieve an improvement in software development team's performance.

Workflow illustration

Visualization gives you a shared overview of your process and thus helps you to identify and resolve workflow problems. Moreover, it simplifies collaboration between people and across different project teams. A common practice for that is to have a board where the proper phases are visualized. The simplest Kanban board for software development team consists of 3 columns: Backlog, In Progress and Done.

Limit WIP

This is perhaps the principle most closely identified with Kanban. The idea of WIP limits is to try to ensure that you never start or complete a task that cannot be passed smoothly onto the next stage without blocking up the overall workflow. You can limit the amount of work in progress per stage, person or work item type.

Measure Lead Time

After implementing Kanban you need to control and optimize your workflow. The important metric for you is the lead time - the average time it takes tasks to get from specified start point to the specified end state. For example, you can measure how much time it takes to perform steps in development, defect management, and resolving support issues. If you identify and eliminate bottlenecks you can easily shorten "lead time".

The tool that helps you to properly measure lead time is the Lead and Cycle Time Diagram. The better you become at measuring lead time, the better you will be at calculating delivery time.

Kanban board examples for software development teams

A Kanban board is a flexible tool that can be adapted to any team requirements. Therefore, you cannot have just one example of a Kanban board. Below there are presented three different board designs.

Example 1: A basic board

This Kanban board has a really simple structure that is based on Personal Kanban foundations. Such a board is useful for very small teams, or start-ups operating in one room.

Basic software development Kanban board

Example 2: Advanced Kanban board for software development processes

The example below presents a professional Kanban board for software development team. The board has been divided into stages corresponding to the classical flow of tasks in software development processes.

Advanced Kanban board for software development teams

Example 3: Heijunka board

This is a special kind of a Kanban board. It is often used by game developers in sequential development process. It's characteristics are a parallel execution of work and a predictable way of execution, ensuring that no team members starve for work in a current flow of tasks. Typically, the columns reflect each single step of the design process.

Heijunka board for software development teams

Tools for applying Kanban in software development

Today, the majority of companies prefers a web-based application for everything, because of flexibility and more frequent updates. Therefore, it is no surprise that online Kanban boards are so popular.

Kanban Tool is a well-known, professional Kanban software with wide range of features. It is easy to learn and customize using Board/Card Editor and Power-Ups. Kanban Tool provides support for real-time collaboration and insightful analytics, including: Cumulative Flow and Lead and Cycle Time diagrams. Kanban Tool offers a free trial on all types of accounts.

Kanban software

Need additional resources on Kanban software development?

Would you like to find out more about how different people use Kanban? Software development teams can learn about applying Kanban by visiting the biggest online collection of carefully selected references to articles, blog posts and presentations relevant to Kanban practice. Kanban Library provides only the best, up to date and useful Kanban resources - now available in one place. Visit Kanban Software Development section.


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