Kanban is about evolution, not revolution. It hinges on the fundamental truth that you can’t get where you want to go without first knowing where you are. If you have already attended the Kanban training, either internal or external, we are sure you know what a Kanban is and what good it brings for a team. Kanban underpins a “Just-in-time” (JIT) system that allows us to visualise our work and workflow, limit work in progress (WIP) items by reducing unfinished work (waste) and redundant task switching. Walking past the working areas in Titansoft, you will notice each team now has a uniquely-designed Kanban used to visualise their workflow. No one Kanban is the same as another as each Kanban caters specifically to each team’s needs and requirements. Let’s go on a tour of the different Kanbans!
Kick off with our very own Titansoft Kanban
Starting on anything new is never easy and oftentimes we go through many changes to settle, like in the case of our Kanban. There are many trial and errors as to derive the perfect fit, suitable for each team’s use. To give an example, one of our teams that is handling a diverse range of items, they make use of swim lanes to prioritize items. Lead time for each item is measured to the precise minute where even block time is recorded by dates and hours, charted out and discussed in the team’s retrospective.
Learn and Share
The Kanban starts with a request queue to gauge the backlog. Following the pull system, the team then prioritizes and pulls in 3 (can be any number depending on what your team has agreed) items to focus on. Kanban users can also customize their signal cards by colour coding them according to categories, requirements and deadlines as well as the members who are responsible for that item.
Since Kanban aids in visualisation, a glance at it should help you to identify the bottleneck in your current working model. Limiting the WIP at each workflow state in the process prevents overproduction and reveals bottlenecks dynamically so you can address them before they get out of hand.
However, as Kanban is all about evolution, these bottlenecks only serves as opportunities to reevaluate their Kanban and improve their current workflow!
Customize your Kanban
Depending on use, you can juggle a wide range of routine and ad-hoc tasks on different areas. To facilitate this, teams may opt to add additional rows within the Kanban to record individual tasks on hand. If teams are having to deal regularly with external parties, you may also tailor your signal card to accurately record your workflow processes on the Kanban. Remember, there is definitely room to tweak the elements in your Kanban to facilitate your work process!
Kanban is constantly evolving such that, one of our teams has taken to document a little Kanban diary to record the changes. The team adopts the try-and-see attitude when designing their Kanban workflow steps. If it does not work out, then change! For instance, the team learned to further split items into phases so as to avoid a bottleneck due to the WIP limitation and more end-to-end items can be delivered. The team takes a short break at the end of each day to discuss the items on their Kanban, rules on how to pull in items or if changes are required to improve the current Kanban.
Though each Kanban is uniquely designed and catered to the team, understanding the rationale behind their rules and workflow steps can lead to new perspectives on how to improve your team’s Kanban.
Build your Personal Kanban!
Besides a team level Kanban, you can also create your personal Kanban. To put it simply, it is a system to manage your to-dos. The rules are easy:
- Visualise your to-dos to see at a glance what is on your plate or when it is too full.
- Limit your work in progress to keep productivity flowing.
Want to digitalise it? Try apps like Trello and KanbanFlow that even comes with a Pomodoro timer to keep you focused on your tasks.
Kanban, at a team or personal level, is incredibly simple, but at the same time incredibly powerful. The core principles are simple and yet difficult to argue with — Keep your eyes on your work and try not to juggle too much at once. The rest are then details that are constantly molded and evolved to form your most ideal and most productive workflow.
Thanks for the tips for using Kanban. Very helpful for us.