Kanban Software Development Kanban boards for software development teams

Kanban is a simple lean "best practice" method, that focuses on creating a continuous workflow - and ongoing added 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.

In 2012 more than 80% of all software development processes were utilizing lean and agile methods, including Kanban. This article will give you a basic understanding of Kanban in development processes.

Kanban Software Development

Core principles for Kanban in software development

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

Workflow illustration

Visualization gives you a shared overview of your process, and thus helps to identify and resolve any workflow problems. Moreover, it simplifies collaboration between people and across different project teams. A common practice for that, is to have a board, on which specific work 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 Work In Progress limits is to try ensure, that you never start or complete a task, that cannot be passed smoothly onto the next stage, without blocking up the entire 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. By identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, you can easily shorten "lead time".

The tool that helps to accurately 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.

10 key reasons for adopting Kanban board in software development

Kanban method:

  • Accelarates software delivery.
  • Helps manage changing requirements and priorities. Kanban welcomes changing requirements, even late in development and improves scope control because customers and stakeholders can add new requirements, shift priorities, or rethink requirements.
  • Significantly increases productivity - even up to 300%!
  • Pays attention to software processes to achieve higher quality code.
  • Enhance delivery predictability. Effective software development teams can accurately predict their delivery in time, scope, and total quality while continuously finding ways to improve their productivity with Kanban.
  • Improves project visibility. Now everyone know what needs to be done, what is in progress and what was done.
  • Significantly reduces project risk.
  • Boosts your team happiness. Kanban is an investment in a happiness work culture.
  • Reduces project total cost.
  • Helps to manage distributed teams more efficiently.

Kanban board examples for software development teams

A Kanban board is a flexible tool, that can be adapted to any team requirements. Below are presented three examples of 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.

A basic software development Kanban board

Example 2: Advanced Kanban board for software development processes

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

An 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. Its characteristics are a parallel execution of work, and a predictable way of task completion, ensuring that no team member starves for work in 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, majority of companies prefer a web-based application for everything, because of flexibility and frequent updates. Therefore, it is no surprise that online Kanban boards are so popular.

Kanban Tool is a well-known, professional Kanban solution with wide range of features. It is easy to learn and customize using Board and 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.

Need additional resources on Kanban software development?

Would you like to find out more about how different people use Kanban method? 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 - all available in one place. Visit Kanban Software Development section.

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