Kanban Manage Work Without Overloading Team Members

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What is Kanban?

Kanban is a method for managing knowledge work with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery while not overloading team members. The name originates from Japanese, and translates roughly as “signal card”. It is mostly used to control a logistical chain for a new product; taking it from inception right the way through to completion. It can be extremely useful to help team members manage their workload, in easier to process chunks.

How do you do Kanban?

The process, from definition of a task to its delivery to the customer, is displayed for participants to see and developers pull work from a queue. It involves sticking cards on a wall with columns relating to the status of the work.

You need:

  • a board – a shiny surface like perspex is good for sticking post it notes
  • cards and tape (or post it notes)
  • a team
  • objectives which are in different stages of completion

The process usually takes from a few days to the length of an agile sprint or longer. Software packages are available which provide a virtual board experience, usually with a virtual board, offering the ability to add new columns and tickets. Tickets can be commented upon and have members assigned to them. This can make it a lot easier to keep track of the process if you have team members situated in various parts of the country (or around the world).

Example software:

What is Kanban useful for?

Kanban is for teams to work more efficiently together. Its a way to make everyone aware of all the work that needs to be done, work is responsible for what, and to build a sense of ‘completedness’ of the project which helps motivation. The method does not prescribe a specific set of roles or process steps.

The method starts with the roles and processes you have and stimulates continuous, incremental and evolutionary changes to your system.

Further reading: