How often do you find yourself stuck on a task for hours, mainly because of numerous interruptions by your colleagues, wanting to know when you'll be done, can you give them a hand with something, asking what happened to your tasks from the day before? Too often?
This is exactly what Kanban method solves. If you dislike chaos and would really like to significantly increase your productivity, get Kanban Tool as soon as possible. Spread the tasks among the team and watch them get on with it - nicely and at a sustainable pace. Divide large jobs into small steps, allowing for better time estimations and less "big jobs intimidation".
A Kanban board powered by Kanban Tool allows you to assign tasks to team members, attach comments, descriptions, links, and files. Therefore - the tasks need no more time-consuming talking about. The Kanban method is based on the idea of visualizing what needs to be done, what is in progress, and what has already been done. Work visualization significantly increases overall productivity. Thanks to efficiency increase, the entire team can spend more time on what is most important, i.e., completing tasks instead of discussing time-consuming tasks.
What is the Kanban method?
The Kanban method is an agile workflow management methodology based on a process visualization. This method helps optimize processes, maximize efficiency, minimize waste thanks to workflow visualization and analyses.
Kanban board as the main tool of the Kanban method
The process is visualized using the Kanban board, which in its simplest form consists of 3 columns: "To Do", "In Progress" and "Done". Advanced arrays used by many teams at the same time can consist of several dozen columns and rows. Tasks are placed on the board as cards, which are usually assigned to team members. As work progresses, tasks flow from the left side of the board (from the "To Do" column), through the various stages of the process to the end (to the "Done" column).
Nowadays, traditional boards have been replaced by virtual boards that provide access to all information from any device at any time. In addition, modern online Kanban boards automatically generate reports and analyses, allowing for quick identification of problems, bottlenecks, and further improvement of the processes.
How does the Kanban method work, and what is it for?
The Kanban method increases the efficiency of business processes and shortens the time of delivering a product or service to the customer by constantly improving, optimizing, and streamlining the system. All this to achieve the most excellent fluency in the execution of work.
Taking small steps while working helps prioritize better. Most tasks seem urgent when in bulk, when broken down into pieces - you clearly see what needs to be done first. It is helpful to make tasks manageable, just by limiting the amount of work in progress to one or two tasks per person. This way it's also much more clear who is doing what.
After the work is done, you can analyze the workflow by use of Kanban charts and analytics. Kanban Tool's Time Tracking feature leaves no room for guesstimating how long it took to complete the task.
Short history of Kanban
Kanban comes from the Japanese words "Kan" meaning "visible" and "Ban" - "sheet of paper". Kanban was first used in the 1950s in Japanese Toyota by Taiichi Ohno. Initially, Kanban meant a shop sign, billboard, or information plaque.
Taiichi Ōno, source: wikimedia.org
The main principles of the Kanban method
The main principles of Kanban are:
- Visualize the workflow to identify urgent and important tasks and prioritize them,
- Work in Progress limit, also known as WIP (Work In Progress limit), limits the maximum number of tasks that can be performed simultaneously. The work in progress limit can be set for an employee or the entire process, i.e., the entire Kanban board. Typically, the lower the limit, the greater the efficiency. A general rule has been adopted to set a limit of no more than 3 tasks per 1 employee. If someone exceeds the set WIP limit, it may indicate performance problems or a bottleneck, such as insufficient data needed to complete the task or delays caused by other team members. The low WIP limit is conducive to faster execution of tasks, thanks to eliminating distractions such as context switching or multitasking, which positively translates into greater team productivity.
- Workflow management to continuously improve the process, and thus to achieve maximum results,
- Elimination of waste,
- Clear definition of the rules of the process,
- Feedback loops, i.e., continuous improvement of the process based on information from the team, customers and Kanban reports and analyzes.
Learn about the seven types of waste with Lean Management
Eliminating wasteful activities increases the efficiency of processes, profits and therefore helps to build a successful company. Lean production is about maximizing value delivered to the customer by reducing waste and any non-value-adding activities.
Kanban is based on the principles of avoiding any waste defined as "7 times no" originated from the Toyota Production System and is the core of the Lean Management concept.
What are the “7 wastes of lean”?
Seven kinds of waste (Muda)
The most important advantages of using the Kanban method:
- Minimize the amount of work without sacrificing performance,
- Will Significantly Increase Productivity,
- Increase team performance,
- Drastic reduction of lead time for delivering final products or services to the client,
- Quick response to constantly changing customer requirements, better-adapting products and services to customer requirements, and at the same time increasing their quality.
- Significantly accelerate the flow of information thanks to full transparency of the entire work process. All team members have immediate access to the status of any project or task.
- Provide information on system bottlenecks and problems quickly,
- Reduction of company costs thanks to continuous improvement of processes. Costs drop not only immediately after implementing the method but throughout its use.
- Easy and quick implementation of the method in almost every organizational department of the company without the need to stop work. Following "start with what you have" principle, the method can be implemented at any time, in any industry or department.
- A happier and more motivated team.
Thanks to the implementation of Kanban, Toyota reduced shortages by as much as 95%, and level of inventories by 75%, which consequently led to a 25% increase in production, a huge reduction in production costs and a significant increase in competitiveness.
There really aren't many better ways to improve the way you work. Use Kanban method and cut down the time wasted on chaotic talking about work and increase by heaps the actual work done. Also - just make your team a happy team! Start a free trial now >>