The Rules of an Effective Kanban System: A Short Guide
Everything you need to know!
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Kanban is awesome but it has to be managed well. Let’s have a look at how to implement an effective Kanban system to make your projects easy to manage.
Do you know the magic formula for getting more things done in less time? Would you believe me if I told you it can be done using a Kanban system?
A proven method to get more things done in less time is when you are using a Kanban system for your work management. Using Kanban to manage any kind of work you do is a smart way to go. Implementing a Kanban system can help with effective information to work in smarter and more efficient ways. If you want to take your team’s efficiency to the next level, this article is for you.
You should be knowing how to effectively manage your Kanban system. Before that let’s learn what is a Kanban system.
What Is a Kanban System?
Kanban is a scheduling system for lean manufacturing. The system takes its name from the cards that track production within a factory. It controls the supply chain to realize cost savings by the concept of the just-in-time (JIT) inventory control system.
The concept is related to a scheduling system that tells a manufacturer about what needs to be produced, how much of it needs to be done, and when it should be done. The Kanban system resembles a framework in which all the tasks of a particular project are arranged.
“All we are doing is looking at the timeline, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. We are reducing the timeline by reducing the non-value adding wastes.”
— Taiichi Ohno
Let’s have an example where you can observe the basic concept of a Kanban system. When you are in a supermarket, every item has a distinguished inventory location where a specific number of items are placed.
When you pick an item from a specific location and reach the checkout counter for billing, the cashier scans each item and through a system, it will reach the supermarket’s database. This system will show the items part number and quantity that has been picked.
The process goes on and when a specific number of items are consumed, the area will be re-filled with the items from the warehouse. That’s what the Kanban system does. The main idea is to pull the products through production as per the demand and not push through the system according to the prediction.
This shows that Kanban is so universal that any industry can actually do anything with it, keeping in mind some rules.
Rules for an Effective Kanban System
Rule One: Steady Flow of Work
Flow is a measure of how smoothly work moves through your system. In order for any system to work, measuring your flow is important to see the opportunities for improvement.
Measuring flow can calculate the efficiency percentage of the team precisely without having to spend hours estimating the efficiency of every single task that moves through the Kanban board. Having the correct data can decide on any changes to be made, and:
- Visualize the efficiency of your workflow.
- Calculate the bottlenecks dragging down productivity.
- Find how long it is taking to complete tasks vs waiting for someone to take action.
Rule Two: Visualizing Commitment and Delivery Points
It is important to understand your Kanban board that works as per the Kanban system, the ideas and tasks are usually stored in a backlog. As the tasks move from backlog to the first column in the board (that is the ‘to-do’ column), the team member commits to complete it. That’s the commitment point — the tasks move from backlog onto the board and work starts (and you commit to finishing it).
When the task moves to the ‘done’ stage, that is the delivery point — no more action is required on the work item. It is the end of the workflow where the goal is to pull all tasks and complete them.
Rule Three: Limit Work-In-Progress
One of the most valuable aspects of the Kanban system is laying the foundation with WIP limits. When you’re multi-tasking it is surely a road to generate inefficiency. You can keep as much inventory that will be consumed in a limited time and when the inventory is consumed, you’ll know it’s time to make more stock available.
In the same way, limiting WIP allows working on single items faster, helping teams to focus only on current tasks. Your team will be able to locate bottlenecks in the working processes before it becomes blockers. When you set maximum items in one stage, it makes sure that you move into the next step when there is available space. The primary function is to ensure a manageable number of active items in progress at one time.
Rule Four: Measure and Improve
There are developers, designers, project managers, and other big teams using Kanban to achieve a positive and desirable change. Your Kanban system should be ever-evolving. A visual approach to manage projects should allow spotting opportunities to remove unnecessary activities, easily review the processes, streamline the workflow, and cut costs.
You’ll be able to bring more value from your Kanban when you are open to making changes and flexible to improvements. It should be able to find any gaps in the plan along the way to maximize productivity and ensure the process can be run as smoothly as it possibly can.
Setting Up Your Kanban Board
Now that you know the rules of an effective Kanban system, you can set up your Kanban board that has the essential elements of the Kanban system. Using an online Kanban board is becoming a norm to have a clear overview of everything that needs to be done and how work is progressing.
Once things are in order, you can start getting things done. Make sure your Kanban is easy to access and provides the right details for every single step. Are you ready to implement your Kanban system?
Published at DZone with permission of Sandeep Kashyap. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.