“Agile Alliance” – is a representation by 17 software developers. During an outing at Utah in February 2001; they came up with a new approach towards software development. This approach or ‘Agile Methodology’ is based upon an Agile Manifesto developed by them. The concept was simple – a continuous delivery of software. Instead of developing software in a single go, it was to be developed within small cycles – each leading to a delivery, receiving feedback, and changes made accordingly.
Later on ‘Agile Project Management’ (or APM) methodology started to be used within organizations which made a conscious decision to switch to agile. There are various frameworks of APM, and Kanban System is one of them. Here we are going to discuss Kanban.
What is Kanban?
Kanban is a planning and management system or method; which improves the knowledge work that you are doing. Kanban was initially introduced in 1940 by Tiichi Onho for managing inventory in Automotive. Later in 2004, David J. Anderson applied for it within IT and software development.
Kanban is a way of managing projects through visual means. Here, a board is used so as to view the work progress and keep a track of it. Hence, the name ‘Kanban’ (or Kamban’) which means a signboard/billboard in Japanese. The Kanban board makes three segments of the work in three parts – “To do/Requested” ‘Doing/In Progress” and “Done”. This gives the real-time information of the project, facilitates Just In Time production, and also helps in shedding light on bottlenecks within, thus increasing speed.
Kanban Methodology, as a Framework deployed in the Agile Project Management has the purpose to make small incremental progress, all the while keeping track of the product work. This is achieved by following the various set Principles and values. What are these principles, let’s take a look at below.
Principles of Kanban Methodology:
Kanban Framework is structured in such a way that it aims at addressing the human tendency to resist change, and thus focuses on gradual evolution. Its principles include -
Start with what you do now - Kanban requires a process in place. It is flexible and is applied over already existing process/system/workflow. Thus, understand the current processes, job titles, responsibilities, roles, responsibilities, etc. and implement Kanban to it.
Agree to pursue improvement through evolutionary change - Kanban is designed to achieve small incremental changes. Thus the improvement should be evolutionary and not a sweeping change which may face resistance from the organization.
Respect the current Process, Roles, & Responsibilities - Kanban believes that the present process with its titles, roles, and responsibilities are worthy of respected and need not be completely denied or changed. The changes it suggests are slight improvements which gradually grow with the process.
Encourage acts of leadership at every level - Kanban believes in continuous improvement, within its people too. Hence the leaders of various teams need to progressively strive to improve themselves to reach the optimal level of their performance.
Manage the work; let people self-organize around it - Kanban understands that the various teams in organization are interdependent. It thus stresses that focus should be on the work and all the people doing it should organize themselves around it.
Understand and focus on your customers’ needs and expectations - Kanban gives priority to understanding customer needs, and accordingly making the incremental changes. The results should strive for customer satisfaction.
Evolve policies to improve customer and business outcomes - Kanban encourages slowly evolving the existing policies of the organization with the view to improve business outcome and customer satisfaction.
Values of Kanban Methodology:
The organizations using Kanban Framework, while applying the above principles, also need to embrace a set of values including -
Agreement - All the people involved within the process should be in agreement that even if there are differences of opinions, everyone will move together as a whole.
Balance - To facilitate an effective workflow the various viewpoints, aspects as well as capabilities will be balanced.
Respect - All the people and their viewpoints, their roles, will be understood, respected, and considered always.
Collaboration - Collaboration between all the services related to the system as well as with the client is of utmost importance.
Flow of value to Customer - The work should be continuous and incremental so that there is a continuously increasing flow of value to Customer. Their satisfaction is the focus.
Transparency - Ensure open sharing of information in a language which is straightforward as well as clear so that Transparency is maintained.
Benefits of Kanban:
Kanban framework of APM has been designed to get more work done, and hence it applies to ongoing work flow. There are various Benefits of kanban which we are listing below -
* With Kanban, every individual involved in the workforce as well as the customer, all are on the same page. Differences of opinions are respected and accepted, and the work continues.
* Kanban is able to high-light the bottlenecks within your workflow as well as the wastes happening, so that you can deal with them properly.
* Kanban is a part of Agile, and thus very flexible. This allows the integration of Kanban into and already existing process, which then becomes more flexible with Kanban.
* The Kanban team gradually becomes more and more responsive as the strive is to meet customer needs Just In Time. Thus, with the ever changing feedback of the customers, re-organizing and changing priorities, etc. needs to be done by them.
* In Kanban, the focus is on work until it is done. It hence encourages different teams to collaborate so as to perform better and enforces improvement in leadership to increase productivity too.
* Kanban facilitates faster delivery of the product, services, etc. with its agile nature. Also, the customers are highly satisfied.
In conclusion of this overview, if your organization resists going agile due to fear of uncertainty, Kanban Methodology can be your answer. All the best with it!