Understanding Kanban

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kanban-board-e60650d1-1Kanban, which is a Japanese term, indicates a billboard or signboard and is a scheduling system for managing a software development process in an effective manner. It gained wide popularity when Taiichi Ohno, an engineer at Toytoa started using it in the late 1940s to enhance the manufacturing efficiency of the company. He got this idea from a bizarre source-the supermarket. It was found that clerks at the store were restocking their grocery items by the inventory of the store and not that of the vendor’s supply. The clerks ordered more only when an item was on the verge of getting out of stock. What drew the attention of Toyota was the timely delivery by the grocer.

Engineers at Toyota started perusing their strategies and built a new approach, which is now known as the Kanban system. This technique helps to match the inventory with the demand and attain improved levels of quality and output.

The improved visual nature of the system enabled teams at Toyota to correspond conveniently on the tasks needed to be completed and by when. It also adopted hints and suggestions along with clear processes, which assisted in the trimming of waste and improve the overall value.

Why Kanban Works Today

The current workforce may be equipped with high-end technologies but there is still loads of information that makes its way as words on the screen of a device-for instance, task lists, spreadsheets and emails to name a few. Information overload is something of great concern these days. As a result, the effectiveness of this work approach has gone down significantly.

An ordinary image can be equal to a thousand words according to scientists. The human brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster compared to text. In such a scenario, Kanban can help leverage on the power of visual information with the aid of sticky notes presented on a whiteboard to build an image of your task at hand. Having a look at the different stages of a project within your team allows you to communicate with them and also receive their feedback.

Four Important Principles of Kanban

The core elements of Kanban method are as follows:

1. Visualize Task

By chalking out a visual model of your task and workflow, you can easily notice the flow of work within your team. Making the work visible with the help of cards, bottlenecks and blockers can immediately result in improved collaboration and communication.

2. Restrict Work In Process

If you restrict the amount of unfinished task in process, you can drastically cut down the time for an item to make its way through the Kanban method. It also staves off difficulties resulted by switching of task and reducing the requirement to reprioritize items on a consistent basis.

3. Emphasize On Flow

You can easily optimize your Kanban arrangement by making use of work-in-process limits and establishing policies that are team driven. This will make your work flow smooth besides aiding you to gather metrics to study flow. You can also get a hint on the top indicators that can impose to be a threat in the future by scrutinizing the flow of work.

4. Regular Improvement

Once you get acquainted with the Kanban style, it’ll act as a backbone for all your tasks. Teams gauge their effectiveness by keeping a track on their work flow, output, lead times, quality and much more. Your team’s performance will be greatly improved by continuously experimenting and analyzing the system.

Pankaj Mondal

Pankaj Mondal

Pankaj Mondal is a member of the expert writer team for Project-Management.com. He writes articles on the following subjects: project management software, book reviews, training site reviews, and also general articles related to the project management industry.

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