What is a Kanban board: Fundamentals Explaination

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Do you mind being more efficient and productive? Learn what a Kanban board is and why it is a great way to map your workflow and increase performance.

INTRODUCTION

The lack of efficiency is a common problem in the different project teams. In most cases, the problem lies in not having a clear idea of ​​what the team is doing and what exactly is dragging productivity down.

The implementation of a Kanban board can change the situation and help you be more efficient than it ever was, as it shows where exactly the team needs to start improving. Here is an explanation of the kanban board.

What is a Kanban board?

The Kanban board is a tool to map and visualize your workflow and one of the key components of the Kanban method. Originally, a white board (or a cork board) was used that was divided into columns and rows.
Each column visualizes a step of its process and the rows represent different types of specific activities (design, errors, technical debt, etc.).

At the same time, each task that enters your workflow appears on the board as a Kanban card. The entry point of each card is the requested column (the “To be done” column).
Nowadays, there are more practical and accessible digital kanban cards solutions that are perfect for both the remote teams and the teams that develop their activity in the place where the project is carried out.

In summary, each Kanban board is divided into three basic sections that show the status of your tasks:

  • To do
  • In process
  • Fact

For a more detailed mapping of your process, you are free to create as many subsections as you need to visualize your workflow with maximum precision. For example, a development team may have a Kanban board consisting of multiple columns and rows.

How does Kanban work for you?

  1. Your Kanban board will show you all the weaknesses in your team’s workflow

The Kanban board is a perfect tool to visualize potential problems in your process. The logic is simple. If you notice a column, in which tasks enter faster than they leave, the work will begin to accumulate and the problem will be visible to the whole team.

This can be caused by a temporary problem or a bottleneck in your process. For this reason, we recommend that you map your workflow as accurately as possible to obtain a perfectly clear picture in which the problem is located.

For example, if you have a basic Kanban board with only one section in progress, and there are many cards that are in standby mode, it will be very difficult to determine why the job is stuck.

On the other hand, if you have dedicated a good time to accurately map your workflow and your board is divided into numerous columns for all stages, at a glance you will find out where you need to improve.

Once you have noticed a problematic column / bottleneck, take steps to resolve the problem and prevent it from happening again. The simplest thing is to limit the work in process to the beginning of the flow to give more time to the people who “own” this stage and allow them to decrease the bottleneck. Another option could be to redistribute the team’s efforts to meet the new requirements.

  1. Your Kanban board will help you focus on your work

The Kanban board is an excellent way to oppose your team performing many tasks at once: with the application of WIP limits according to their capacity. You can set a limit on the total set of tasks that can be in process simultaneously on your board or set individual limits at each stage of your workflow.

If you want to increase the value delivery rate to your customers, you just need to keep each member of your team focused on the least amount of tasks possible.

In this way, team members will stop starting new jobs and will concentrate on completing tasks that are already in process. Knowing that everyone can see what each person is doing is a great motivating factor to also achieve better performance all the time.

  1. Your Kanban board will save you the time lost in unnecessary meetings

A significant benefit that comes with presenting Kanban boards to your team is that it will save you a lot of meeting time, progress reports and unnecessary interruptions.

The board will serve as a source of information. It will make clear what each one is doing at any time. The Kanban board will keep you and all team members informed about how your classmates’ tasks are progressing. In this way, you will not need to schedule meetings frequently to receive current information about the progress.

Following this line of thought, the Kanban board will allow you to forget about the long progress reports that cost a lot of time and are no longer current when presenting them to interested parties.

  1. Your Kanban board will visualize work blockers

The Kanban board allows you to visualize the problems that prevent your team from completing a certain task. On a typical physical board, blockers are usually indicated with red magnets (or pins if you are using a cork board).

Kanban software has more advanced ways to visualize blockers (for example, stop signs on blocked cards). In this way, when something prevents your team from continuing to work on a task, you can label it as blocked and start working on another task without breaking the WIP limits (the limits of the work in process).

  1. Your Kanban board will gather the key metrics of the workflow

Nowadays, digital Kanban boards can automatically collect information about the cycle time of their tasks, delivery time and other key performance indicators. This will help you make decisions, which are based on data, on any change in your process and will save you a lot of time wasted in collecting metrics by hand.

In addition, the “To Do” columns will help you prioritize tasks much better. When viewing all the information in one place, the team will be in the same situation at any time.

IN SUMMARY

The Kanban board is a tool to map and visualize your workflow and one of the key components of the Kanban method. Kanban boards help you:

  • Visualize bottlenecks and weaknesses in the workflow
  • Focus on work in process
  • Eliminate the need for meetings to update basic information
Hattie B. Trosclair

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