Kanban

Kanban matches the amount of work in progress to the team’s capacity and Kanban teams more flexible planning options, faster output, clear focus, and transparency throughout the development cycle. In IT industry, Kanban, in the context of software development means a visual process-management system that tells us what to produce, when to produce it, and how much to produce.

Few common rules followed by the industry when it comes to Kanban:

  • There is a backlog table, which are frequently visited by the Product Owner and priorities of tasks are revised, as appropriate. That means Kanban is flexible towards accommodating changes in priorities and addition of backlogs at any time.
  • Tasks are listed in a descending order based on priorities
  • Multitasking kills efficiency. The more work items in flight at any given time, the more context switching, which hinders their path to completion. That’s why a key tenant of kanban is to limit the amount of work in progress (WIP). Work-in-progress limits highlight bottlenecks and backups in the team’s process due to lack of focus, people, or skill sets. Team members start working on one task at a time, based on priority. However, it is practical to assign individual team members with individual tasks.
  • Unlike Sprint Cycle, Kanban does not have a start or end date. Rather Kanban provides continuous delivery.
  • However, Kanban does accommodate iteration/release cycle.
  • Stories are sized (story pointed). We will still be using Fibonacci Numbers for sizing.
  • The Kanban method does not prescribe a specific set of roles or process steps. The Kanban method starts with existing roles and processes and stimulates continuous, incremental and evolutionary changes to the system. Though, many places utilize Scrum structure when it comes to functional role assignment.
  • Acts of leadership at all levels in the organization, from individual contributors to senior management, are encouraged.
  • There is an option of blending Scrum and Kanban, which is called “Scrumban”.

 

Kanban Team and Objectives:

Many teams can work in the kanban model. Development, service, support, and business teams can all be structured to fit the kanban model. Objectives for Kanban team include:

  • Keep everyone focused on their incoming queue
  • Allow ownership of items to be fluid until the work actually starts
  • Limit the impact to the team when priorities on the backlog change

 

Four Core Kanban Principles:

1. Visualize Work

By creating a visual model of our work and workflow, we can observe the flow of work moving through our Kanban system. Making the work visible—along with blockers, bottlenecks and queues—instantly leads to increased communication and collaboration.

2. Limit Work in Process

By limiting how much unfinished work is in process, we can reduce the time it takes an item to travel through the Kanban system. We can also avoid problems caused by task switching and reduce the need to constantly reprioritize items.

3. Focus on Flow

By using work-in-process (WIP) limits and developing team-driven policies, we can optimize our Kanban system to improve the smooth flow of work, collect metrics to analyze flow, and even get leading indicators of future problems by analyzing the flow of work.

4. Continuous Improvement

Once our Kanban system is in place, it becomes the cornerstone for a culture of continuous improvement. Teams measure their effectiveness by tracking flow, quality, throughput, lead times and more. Experiments and analysis can change the system to improve the team’s effectiveness


 

Reading Materials

  • Here is a an article on Kanban Pitfalls:

http://blog.crisp.se/mattiasskarin/files/slides/10_pitfalls_when_implementing_kanban_mskarin2011.pdf

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