Kanban Board is a brilliant visual tool that gives an overview of the current work status and simplifies team communication. It's also a key element in the Kanban method, which helps to optimize and continuously improve any business process. Visualizing work on a kanban board will boost productivity and eliminate chaos from your workplace.
Kanban Boards work by mapping individual work items to sticky notes placed into columns on a large board. Board's columns represent the value stream - a sequence of specific steps that tasks or products must go through from the start of work to finish. Work items are written down on cards and placed into their respective columns.
Different card colors are used for different types of work items, and horizontal rows, known as swimlanes, are used to organize teams working on the same board. A limit is placed on the capacity of some columns to ensure smooth flow of work, and team members pull cards and move them through columns from left to right as work progresses.
To create a Kanban Board, get a whiteboard, then break down the flow of work from the moment you start it to when it's finished into distinctive steps and draw a column for each.
Decide what kinds of work items you are usually working on. These may be, for example, customer orders, support requests, or maintenance tasks. Assign a distinctive color to each of them, and get a bunch of sticky notes in these colors.
Write down each thing you are working on on a separate color-coded sticky note, and put it onto the board into the respective column. The order of cards in each column should represent their relative priority, with the most urgent ones at the top.
Work on tasks starting with the ones at the top. When a task is ready to be moved to the next column, place it at its bottom. Such a method of working will help to maintain a high flow of work on your board.
Kanban is all about maintaining a high and consistent flow of work. With your board, you should be able to see the overview of work status and instantly identify any problems or bottlenecks. No work item should lag behind, and columns should not be overloaded with tasks. The most straightforward technique to ensure consistent flow is limiting work in progress.
Limiting Work In Progress means placing a limit (WIP limit) on the capacity of a column on a Kanban Board. For example, you may decide that you should not be working on more than two things at once. So once you have more than two items in a column, you stop accepting new ones and focus all your efforts on getting at least one item from this overgrown column done first. Limiting WIP helps to keep in check the number of unfinished things you have on your plate, before accepting new ones. Keep in mind that Kanban Boards are part of a larger Kanban method, which offers many other techniques to keep the work flowing.
Kanban boards' history starts in 1963 on the manufacturing floor of Toyota Motor Company. There, Tachi Ohno has worked on the basic principles of the Kanban method, which included Kanban cards as a visual signal helping to control the flow of parts through the supply chain.
Around 2006, as the Kanban method was gaining popularity, software developers started to apply it to the common practice of visualizing and sharing project status by posting cards on whiteboards in the project room. Application of Kanban principles to the otherwise chaotic project boards gave them the columns and structure from which modern Kanban boards have emerged. Now they are successfully used in all kinds of industries and everywhere where visibility of work status helps to organize work better.
Kanban boards available online are a natural response to remote teams' needs, and an ideal solution for modern companies, where working from home is a supported standard, either in full or part time capacity. Online Kanban combines the established and valued principles of Kanban, such as Work In Progress limits, with latest technology, helping businesses succeed in highly competitive markets.
Regardless of your team members' location, on a daily basis you are all able to visualize, control and optimize workflow and collaborate in real-time.
A unique advantage of a digital Kanban board is the possibility for your progress to be automatically monitored and analyzed with time tracking and numerous metrics. The board will also keep tabs on the team sticking to the agreed WIP limits.
Kanban boards can be easily customized to match your team's own workflow and specific needs. Software development teams are implementing shared Kanban boards to increase visibility, handle interruptions or visually and functionally divide development work from bug fixes.
A Kanban board built to match their unique preferences allows them to manage the development process, focus on the right items at the right times, to - in result - deliver high quality software faster.
A Kanban board is also a popular go-to app for visualizing and tracking a sales process: from initial contact, throughout the negotiation stages, documents sharing, following-up and ending at finalization and going further on, to collecting feedback.
It can help you create a sales process that is reliable, easy to manage & maintain, and which will support you in effortlessly building a strong bond with your customers. For work as challenging as sales can be, streamlining the process alone can be of great help.
The use of Kanban boards has many advantages, including better work management, improved team collaboration and keep everyone on the same page. Comparing to other agile and lean project and process management techninques, Kanban method is much easier to implement and, in most cases, CEOs see the results faster. Implemented correctly, Kanban can help your team achieve exceptional results.
It's proven that Kanban boards:
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What customers say? "This product has revolutionized communication for us.
After giving it a go for a few weeks our productivity was through the roof, so I asked them to present our findings to management. The benefits spoke for themselves, so management were keen to roll out to the whole depth.
The great thing about kanban is you can apply it on top of whatever you're currently doing, so there's very little risk or disruption involved in individuals or teams giving it a go." - Sarah