Kanban is a method that enables teams and organizations to visualize their work and by this - defeat bottlenecks, waste and chaos. It helps to achieve dramatic improvements in terms of throughput, lead time and quality in almost any business function.
The Kanban method dates back to the first half of the 20th century. Taiichi Ohno working at Toyota was the one who applied Kanban logic in Toyota Production System (TPS) in 1950s. His aim was to support non-centralized “pull” production control. In 1970s Kanban was popularized in the manufacturing industry. In following years, many management experts have found its applicability beyond the manufacturing industry as well.
A new, groundbreaking application of Kanban emerged as early as 2005. Kanban has been successfuly applied to intellectual work, especially to software development processes. The pioneers of this movement were David J. Anderson, Jim Benson, Corey Ladas and others.
How does Kanban work?
A picture is worth a thousand words. Our brains process visual information 60 000 times faster than a text. Furthermore, the data in an image form is far more easy for us to remember. Kanban helps people to benefit from the power of visual information. By using sticky notes on a whiteboard you are able to map your workload and obtain an incredible visibility of your processes. This simple method enables you to track the workflow and the productivity within your team. On top of this, it makes team goals and company policies easier to understand for everyone, and significantly improve communication between team members.
Unlike many other methods, Kanban incorporates an evolutionary approach that is all about gradually implementing small but meaningful improvements into organization's current processes. This makes Kanban an easy and increasingly popular tool for managing any type of work.
A recipe for Kanban?
Kanban is a process designed to help teams work together more effectively. To get the most out of it, you need to know 5 simple principles:
- Visualize your workflow and your agenda using Kanban board and cards.
- Limit the amount of work in progress to avoid multitasking.
- Manage the flow of work and monitor the performance to implement necessary improvements and fix problems as they occur.
- Set your own rules and guidelines for your work.
- Improve continuously and collaboratively using scientific models such as: The Theory of Constraints, The System of Profound Knowledge or Lean Economic Model.
Unique Kanban characteristics
Kanban varies from Scrum and other agile methodologies. Learn the most important differences:
Kanban represents reality over the ideal. It helps you manage your current workflow, not just plan what you want to do in the future.
Kanban supports your completion of work in progress more than starting new work on top of the current tasks.
Kanban allows to manage your process at every single stage, from the initial idea to production, it's not just for the development part.
What is a Kanban board and how to start using it?
A Kanban board is a web-based application that allows you to visualize and manage your workflow, share tasks and collaborate in real-time within the team. Now it is even more powerful, as it provides a Time Tracking feature with insightful Time Reports that enable you to monitor what your team is working on and how effectively. Start a free Kanban board trial today to experience outstanding improvement and extreme productivity.