How Kanban Could Help Your Business be More Agile?
Kanban is a project management approach that uses a series of note cards and was first introduced by the Toyota company. The system allows you and members of a team to see specific tasks rolling through a workflow chart in visual form. Kanban as a system has been in use since the early 50’s, but cloud and web-based applications have revived the system lately.
The ability for people to contribute to Kanban boards and push items through the next step from wherever they are is one of the reasons why it is so popular today – especially when people are looking for more flexibility, and more businesses are embracing the virtues of agile work for them and their employees. Let’s take a closer at how Kanban could help you make the switch to an agile workplace.
One of the beauties of Kanban is how it makes the whole process visible to every person implicated in the project. That means that employees can communicate with each other easier, and management can oversee the progress of a project without having to micro-manage.
Kanban also doesn’t ask for daily meetings like other agile management methods. Employees can pick up work where and whenever they want, whether it’s at the beginning of the day or when turning shifts.
A tool like Kanbanize, for instance, could help with an agile implementation by using Kanban techniques. It could help your business optimize flow efficiency by minimizing lengthy queues in your processes, and also visualize bottlenecks fast and easily. What this could do is help you redress batch sizes or capacity at certain steps. What these tools also allow is a quick exchange of feedback between different players, whether it’s from management to employees, (or vice versa), or employees between each other. All of this allows for more autonomous action and less hold uptime.
Issues are Detected Rapidly
You don’t have to go through a series of emails or physically check up on a department to know when and why certain tasks might be holding up. A Kanban board that is accessible to everyone at any time can allow upper management or external stakeholders to see a quick visual view of blockages and address them directly. You could immediately relocate some resources to the problem fast and easily if you noticed that some of your other employees are underutilized, for instance.
It Allows for Quick Reprioritization
Another great aspect of Kanban is that it’s easy to reprioritize items or make sure that important tasks are taken care of first. Items have to be organized in the backlog first, then released in order of urgency. Items can also be put on hold and on the back of the line give way for items that might be more important at that moment.
Kanban is one of the most flexible systems around, which makes it a great tool when it’s time to abruptly change direction, or if changes in the market forces you to shift focus to a whole new set of priorities. A short meeting can be held to inform of the recent changes, and teams can get right back on track with a refreshed backlog.
It Improves Quality Control
Overworked workers are less responsive, less productive, and less efficient. By being able to see which workers or departments might be overworked and managing WIP limits accordingly, your staff can actually focus on their work. This results in work that is less likely to get rushed and pushed through without being fully up to standards.
Encourages Continuous Improvement
Kaizen and Kanban are two principles that go hand in hand. Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement, is what Kanban was made for and allows. Due to its visual nature, Kanban allows managers and team members to have a clear view of their processes. This in turn allows them to see if there are any steps that could be unnecessary, minimize waste, and cut costs by streamlining your workflow.
Greater Focus on Output
Another thing that makes Kanban and WIP limits great is that team members can focus on actually getting things done instead of working on deadlines alone. They can put more attention on the process and making sure that every step is completed. This focus on getting items done ensures that everything is up to par, and greatly enhances work environment and production.
Faster Response to and from the Market
Continuous delivery is another thing that makes Kanban so great. You can send items to the customer as soon as they’re ready. You can then get a response from the market fast, and work on critical issues immediately. Reducing time to market allows the team to quickly regroup, new features to be added or removed, or even start working on the second generation of said product.
It Empowers Your Team
When you use Kanban, everyone on the team takes ownership of projects. They better understand the importance of their role and actually start seeing themselves as part of a whole. The ability to make more decisions empowers them, and increases their engagement. They start to understand how their work and decisions are affecting the team and their work, and they’ll be more likely to make responsible decisions in the future.
See the Big Picture
But one of the best things about Kanban is that it gives management, executives, and stakeholders a chance to take a quick snapshot of their operations and see where things are going wrong, or according to plan. Will you be able to meet deadlines? Are crucial tasks being handled? Is there any way I could improve on my process? Not many tools will allow you to monitor and collect so much information about your workflow and pinpoint inefficiencies as precisely as Kanban can.
Kanban could end up completely transforming your workplace and be the tool you and your team has been waiting for. If your team members enjoy autonomy and transparency, and you’d rather work on improving your processes instead of wasting time on micro managing, then Kanban might be the solution for you.