Planning and organizing your workflow is one of the best ways to increase productivity. Visualization can help simplify the development process while dealing with a complicated task. And this is where the Kanban board becomes so compelling.
If you've never heard of it before, a Kanban board is a tool that helps you visualize your work process. It can help increase efficiency by clearly showing what's problematic, so that your team can improve upon it right away.
Initially, it was part of Toyota's production system. But at the time, it was only a visual scheduling system. Over the years, it was redesigned and improved upon.
David Anderson and Darren Davis are credited with the current use of the Kanban method. Davis suggested that workflow should be laid out on a whiteboard. And that is how the Kanban board came into being.
Now, it is used by teams on a widespread basis to help tackle complicated procedures.
There are six main components to a Kanban board that you'll need to understand:
Cards are used to contain details about the task that is being performed. Information like the description, deadline and in-charge is put up in a visual format on the board through Kanban cards.
The board is often divided into columns showing the work's stage. The cards represent a particular task and are placed in columns based on where they are in the workflow. Cards move through the board horizontally towards completion.
A Kanban swimlane can be used to separate special tasks. This can include priority services, unique problems, or assignments to different teams.
Visualizing your workflow while having an overwhelming amount of it won't be of much help. This is why the Kanban board has Work-in-Progress limits.
This means that only a certain number of tasks can be a part of the different stages of the workflow. This way, your team focuses on only a certain number of tasks simultaneously.
The commitment point denotes when an item is ready to be integrated into the board. This is when your team starts to work on the specific task on the card.
The delivery point on the Kanban board is often denoted by a column. It denotes the point when the item on the card has been completed.
There are two main kinds of Kanban boards:
As the name suggests, physical Kanban boards make use of sticky notes and a whiteboard. Team members will have to provide updates by moving the notes from one column to the next.
However, it might be cumbersome for some team members to gain access to the board. Also, it can lead to a lapse in focus due to the to and fro of travelling for updates.
Digital boards, on the other hand, are much more accessible and easier to maintain. The tasks are updated and displayed digitally for all members.
These boards also come with additional features that track performance metrics. As a result, helping you boost efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
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Visualizing the workflow is a tried and tested procedure by agile and DevOps teams. When using it for yourself, you'll see that it makes the procedure very simple to understand.
This way, teams are able to operate with a clear mind and focus on the tasks at hand. By using the work-in-progress limits, only a certain number of tasks are assigned at a time.
So, employees only need to focus and deliver a set number of tasks at a time.
By laying down the cards on the board, all team members are aware of the tasks. This helps them prepare themselves for work accordingly.
The Kanban board aids collaboration by acting as a communication medium between employees. The greater visibility helps teams collaborate better and stay on the same page at all times.
Setting up a dedicated workflow using Kanban boards can help point out where problems exist.
Activities that waste time, energy and resources can be discarded accordingly. When you map your process in detail, you'll be able to see where the problems are at a glance.
This is usually evident when tasks start piling up over time. Expanding the number of columns and dividing your process into finer steps can help.
The more detailed your Kanban board is, the better you'll be able to analyze the current scenario in the workplace. From there, you can work towards fine-tuning the work process to ensure a smooth transition.
What gets measured gets managed. One of the best parts about the Kanban board is that it allows you to collect data about the workflow.
Metrics such as cycle time, lead time and other KPIs can be collected through its implementation. These stats will help you make informed, data-driven decisions.
And as a result, you'll be able to add or subtract procedures that can boost efficiency.
Having a streamlined workflow is essential for any business to be successful. And using Kanban boards can help you achieve just that.
The best part about it is that you can customize and fine-tune the columns to cater to your unique process.