Workflow in the Kanban process can also be understood and managed by acknowledging that the number of tasks in Kanban will vary significantly at different points along the overall process. For instance, a technical editor will be able to edit multiple documents at one time whereas; a software developer may be able to work on one specific feature in the meantime. Thus, workflow and work process differ significantly on the type of work performed.
Kanban system uses the motto, “Pull, don’t push for work”. The “pull” concept here can be understood in the sense that every individual pulls work only when he is ready in the same way that grocery stores only replenish such articles which are running low. In order to depict this on the Kanban board, buffer columns may also be added to denote areas of slacking.
Kanban includes Continuous Improvement #
It is an essential characteristic of Kanban to help individuals get better and better at their work. The models, workflow and few metrics employed in the process help identify inefficiencies in the process. Common identifying markers include;
- Blockages- gauge the number of logjams and record how long they lasted
- Due Date Performance- track the project schedule, the product is how many days above or behind the pre-set schedule.
- Throughput- the ideal number of activities that can be thoroughly performed in a specific time frame.
- Quality- loopholes or defects in the time period
- Lead Time or Cycle Time- How much time is required for a product to pass completely through a specified process
You can easily trace how many tasks in each column have lagged behind and are experiencing delays. You may also need to upstream or downstream certain tasks in this way you will soon start noticing process trends.
Methods of Project Management such as Six Sigma and PRINCE2 have been widely used by managers. However, according to the PMI (Project Management Institute, 2016) report “Pulse of the Profession”, these methods are resulting in more project failures. It indicates that more and more companies are losing capital on more projects. Additionally, PMI noted that only a fraction of projects were being completed as per their pre-set budget and outcomes. Henceforth, Project Managers are resorting to Kanban owing to its success in addressing the loopholes of other project management frameworks. Some of the loopholes include inefficient coordination of teams and inadequacy in scaling the projects up to the enterprise level. Kanban experts believe that it offers the following advantages:
- Effective problem solving
- Easier implementation
- Waste reduction
- Effective communication
- Optimal quality
The maintenance of the Kanban board makes it easier for the project team to understand and coordinate various project needs, work distribution and responsibilities of individual members. Meanwhile, WIP works to ensure that throughput is high. In this regard, the Chief Executive of Modus Cooperandi, Jim Benson, explained that Kanban facilitates addressing 9 key questions by employing visualization. These questions include information regarding the project such as what is being made, what is lagging, who needs assistance, what has been achieved so far and what is the desired outcome.