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How to Get Started with Kanban in Software Development

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Our summary and key takeaways

How to implement Kanban into a software development environment? Learn the core concepts of Kanban and how to implement it into an existing system. No matter if you are currently using Scrum, RUP, XP or Waterfall, all you need to do is to follow four basic steps:

Define and visualize your process

The first step of the Kanban implementation is to define and visualize your current process on a Kanban board. There are many methods that will help you to design your board. You can use: value stream mapping, state chart or workflow diagram. You should have a deep understanding of what steps are in your process and then model your Kanban board on that basis. Once you have created your board, you need to place the current work in progress (WIP) on it and learn how to keep this information up to date.

Limit work in process (WIP)

Problems usually come when there is too much to do. That's what step two is about. To reduce the amount of work in progress you should define WIP limits. You can choose between setting WIP limits for the whole system, a given step or groups of steps. You can also limit work per person or per team. Many other techniques are possible. The important thing is to remember that you should adjust WIP limits every time your system changes.

Pull, don’t push

Once you are ready, just pull a work item through the system, starting with the left hand side of the system. The biggest advantage of the pull system is its facilitation of starting work when there are available resources, instead of pushing work onto already multi-tasking team members.

Monitor and Improve

The fourth step is about constantly monitoring and improving your performance by use of the Kanban method. Keep an eye on your workflow - it should run smoothly. Pay attention to bottlenecks and items that are stacked. Rethink your WIP limits and make necessary changes in your system in order to boost your productivity. Thanks to Derick Bailey you will know how to analyze and improve your workflow. Get on the way to continuous improvement!

Read our article on Kanban for Software Development »