4 Kanban Core Practices to Improve Your Scrum Workflow

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4 Kanban Core Practices to Improve Your Scrum Workflow

If you're frustrated with the state of your Scrum workflow, these Kanban core practices can help.

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Scrum and Kanban

Scrum and Kanban are better together.

Does your Scrum board honestly make you feel tired, what with its 20+ columns and far too complicated workflow? If the answer is yes, then it's the right time for you to look back and remove that complexity. And thankfully, Kanban can help. 

You may also like:  Scrum With Kanban: It's Time to Cross the Bridge

What follows are four Kanban practices that can help optimize your Scrum workflow

Visualization of the workflow

Transparency is one of three essential pillars of the empirical process. Without it, you will be blind. So regardless of whether you apply Scrum or Kanban, the Scrum Board or Kanban Board needs to be easy to see and update, as well as provides the same understanding for all stakeholders.

I used to work with a team where each team member built an individual board and workflow by herself. Team member A only viewed and saw her tasks and disconnected with the rest of the team. They joined the Daily Scrum like a status report. Transparency and collaboration were lost. And you can imagine what happened: Nobody had any idea about what the rest of the team was doing.

The first thing I tried to support was making the Sprint Backlog visible by encouraging them to build a single and visible Board that the whole team could see and update. From that, they had the same understanding of their works.

Limiting WIP

When the team works on the same Board, you need to help them manage their work by creating a pull system. Limiting WIP will help you.

" WIP Limit not only helps workflow but can improve the Scrum Team's focus, commitment, and collaboration even further."

Limiting WIP also helps your team focus on completing work before they pick up more, to avoid multitasking, and improve collaboration.

For example, when one team member has done his work, and WIP comes to the limit. Instead of picking up more work, he needs to support other team members to finish their jobs first. (Collaboration!)

"Multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ."


Active management of work items in progress

If you have a Workflow and are limiting WIP, but it's not managed and updated, it will not work. 

It will make your workflow get stuck. Therefore, you need to have the team to manage and update it. Daily Scrum is one of the great events to support your team to do just that.

Inspecting and adapting their definition of "Workflow" 

We are dealing with complex works, so not only is transparency essential, but so is inspection and adaptation.  

Help your tasks become transparent by having a Definition of Workflow (DoW) so that everybody understands how works are started and how they can be called "Done" (Like DoD). The rule should be displayed, and everybody needs to understand.

Just likes DoD, DoW is built by the Scrum Team. They will own and manage it. It will be changed or updated overtime as the Scrum Team matures and they want to improve it.

But when should DoW be inspected and adapted? Don't we have a retrospective at the end of the sprint? That's a good chance for the team to look back and improve. Remember, you can change DoW anytime, but it should happen in Retrospective. 


Further reading

Explaining Kanban to Scrum Adopters

Scrum + Kanban = Scrumban

agile adaptation, kanban, scrum (development)

Published at DZone with permission of Khoa Doan Tien , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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