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Kanban: trendy tool to make your projects AGILE

Sep 16, 2019
Alex Kisliak

Posted by Alex Kisliak

Kanban now is one of the most popular Agile frameworks that is well-known among the IT teams. But it also perfectly fits within other business spheres and everyday projects, and we’d like to share with you some thoughts about it.

As a trendy Agile framework, Kanban visualizes all working processes. It’s a combination of the principles and practices that are recognized not only in IT but in all business spheres. Whatever you do, you surely need a strategy of how your work must be done. Unlike with Scrum, that has predefined roles, events, and artifacts, Kanban implementation is based on the principles, through which you’ll get an understanding of how exactly to upgrade your business:

  • Start with the existing process
  • Agree to pursue incremental changes
  • Respect all the current processes, roles, and responsibilities
  • Encourage acts of leadership at all levels

Kanban appeared around 60 years ago as an instrument for the materialization of Agile. There are 6 core practices of Kanban that are supposed to manage your work according to the agile methodology, summarizing it:

  • Visualize (the work, workflow and business risks)
  • Limit Work In Progress, or simply WIP
  • Manage Flow
  • Make Process Explicit
  • Implement Feedback Loops
  • Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally (using models & the scientific method)

These practices will help you to see how the process goes and to learn how to deal with changes, how to manage the feedback and to achieve the desired results, even with limited capability of predictions with regards to time, possible problems and undefined scope of work.

What are the benefits of Kanban?

Simple implementation

The idea of project visualization with the help of the cards and columns is simple so far you won’t have to put too much effort, whether you use a digital board or just columns drawn right on the wall. The main thing is that the methodology offers to start with the project you already have and finish it, encouraging incremental changes.

Narrow number of tasks

A bird in the hand is worth two in the wood. Concentrating on the project you have at the moment, you have more chances to finish it in time rather than planning two or three projects and get distracted. Limiting the tasks and giving them the right priority, you’ll finish all planned projects faster, meanwhile, the completed tasks will motivate the team members to reach new heights.

Advanced company culture

According to the Kanban, every opinion is important, and the team learns to do their best while working, constantly improving the collaborative skills. All team members are encouraged to show their creativity and hidden talents.

Emphasis on quality, not quantity

All the previous points lead to the main one: having limited tasks, the inspired team concentrates on what they do right now, increasing the quality of their work, in the end releasing a product of high quality, which is your major priority.

Is Kanban only for IT?

You might think that Kanban is only appropriate for IT-sphere, like for software development, but, actually, it doesn’t have any limits. Dividing the work into several steps, you’ll see the whole project whatever you do, and after the implementation of Kanban into the business, whether it is software development, or car selling, or even just the process of writing a new book, you’ll achieve the results much better than you expected.

Kanban is popular in IT-sphere because the people there are more expected to accept to required changes in the managerial style. They are more likely able to make important decisions without assurance, and in Kanban, self-management skills are critically important. So all team players, ideally, should be fine with taking responsibilities without fear and resentment and don’t wait till someone will push them. Meanwhile, the office workers from other business spheres are often not ready for the big changes, and different Kanban and HR training sessions will help them to adapt.

If you still are not confident enough in Kanban’s power, we would like to share with you an example from real life. One of our colleagues used the Kanban method when he, his wife and the baby had to move to the parents’ house. The house was in really bad condition, so they had a lot of stuff to repair. So they decided to plan all the repairing works and divide them into small tasks, using a home-made Kanban board just on the wall. Sticking the notes to the columns that represented what they needed to do and moving them to the column Done, step by step, they made the place look beautiful. The number of done tasks had been growing every day, and that motivated them a lot. Also, at the end of each week, they counted who had more done cards, and the winner got the prize.

As you can see, to implement Kanban you can start with a real physical Kanban board, but the digital ones are often more useful, as they also give access to some analytical data. Kanban as a framework was developed by Jira Software from Atlassian, using its best practices and techniques of project management. It rests at the pique of popularity, having hundreds of thousands of customers all around the world. 

Jira provides users with detailed documentation, letting them dive completely into the Kanban method and implement it right, you can find the detailed information at the Jira Software official website. But if you want everything to be customized according to your needs, turn to Polontech experts.

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