In software development, Kanban can be a visual process management system that indicates what to produce, when to produce it, and in what quantity; this approach is directly inspired by Toyota’s production system and lean methods. Kanban is a work-related knowledge management method, which emphasizes a just-in-time organization by providing information to team members on an ad hoc basis so as not to overload them. In this approach, the entire process, from analyzing tasks to delivering them to the customer, is viewable by all participants, each taking their tasks from a queue.
In software development, a virtual Kanban system is used to limit ongoing tasks. Although the name Kanban comes from Japanese, it can be translated as “road map”, and cards are used in most Kanban implementations in software development, these cards do not function as signage that would be used to get more work. They represent work items.
The Kanban method is an augmented and scalable approach to process and system changes within organizations. It employs a work-in-progress limited draw system as a central mechanism to determine system processes and stimulate collaboration for continuous system improvement.
Principles of Kanban
The Kanban method is based on four basic principles:
- Start with what you’re currently doing: The Kanban method starts with the roles and processes already defined and stimulates continuous, augmented and evolutionary changes.
- Accept to apply evolutionary and augmented changes: The team must accept that continuous, augmented and evolutionary changes are the way to improve the system. Changes in waves may seem more effective, but they have a higher failure rate due to resistance and fear of the organization. The Kanban method encourages small, continuous, augmented and scalable changes.
- Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities and titles: Future changes must be facilitated and respect for current roles, responsibilities, and professional titles helps eliminate initial fears.
- Leadership at all levels: Leadership at all levels within the organization, whether by independent collaborators or senior managers, should be encouraged.
Six Central Practices of the Kanban Method
- Visualize: The visualization of the workflow and its materialization make it possible to understand how the processes work. A common way to visualize workflow is to use a table with columns. The columns represent different stages and stages.
- Limit the number of tasks in progress: Task throttling assumes that the pull system is applied to part or all of the workflow. The draw system will serve as the main stimulus for continuous, augmented and evolutionary changes in the system.
- Flow management: The workflow through each stage of the workflow should be tracked, measured, and reported. By actively managing the workflow, continuous, augmented and scalable changes to the system can be evaluated.
- Make process standards explicit: Establish rules and recommendations by understanding needs and following rules. Standards will determine when and why a ticket is moved from one column to another.
- Set up retrospection loops: When teams carry out their work, they perform actions at regular intervals to measure and inspect the results of what is delivered.
- Continuous improvement: When teams share an understanding of workflow, process, and risk theories, they will be able to understand issues and propose actions for continuous improvement.
The Kanban method suggests that a scientific approach be employed to apply continuous, augmented and evolutionary changes. The method does not prescribe any specific scientific method to be used.