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Kanban for a Purchasing and Import Department

by Christian Gut

Kanban was originally used for stock management in industrial production, but in the recent decade got adopted first to software development processes, and later to any kind of business process. Here, we'll learn of a Kanban example in a purchasing and import department, where it's proven just as successful.

The process

The team manages around 10 import processes per month, and each of the importation processes is represented by a Kanban card, placed on a visual board. The board is split into columns, that visualize the different process stages. The stages include – among others – production, transit and delivered.

The cards

Kanban cards taking part in this visualization process include information such as:

  • – Name and description of the products (with their value, weight and packaging)
  • – The all important arrival date
  • – A checklist of all required documentation
  • – An overall summary and status

Even though all the technical details are kept and managed in an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, having the board in the team's room had proven a great information radiator, that facilitates better grasp of the process and allows great prioritization and more successful teamwork.


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