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Bill Washinski 4 articles
Residence: US Tampa, Florida
The Agile Financial: Project Manager and Consultant

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The Unified Project Management Dictionary

Project Management

The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. (PMI)

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Agile Frameworks - number:4 Kanban


Developed by David J. Anderson (Lean Kanban, Inc. CEO in collaboration with the global community enthusiasts, coaches and trainers).

  • The Kanban Method was published in 2010.
  • The Kanban Method is a set of principles and practices that have been observed in successful Kanban initiatives worldwide.
  • All Lean Kanban programs and curricula are based on the Kanban Method.

The term Kanban is Japanese and means "billboard" or "card." In the Toyota production system, physical cards were used at points in an assembly line to control work and material flow, so team members could see exactly where a work item was in the workflow between the start of that work item and its completion. 

Team Kanban Practitioner:

  • Understand core concepts of the Kanban Method - with a focus on Visualize Everything, Quantify and Manage and Continuous Improvement.
  • Understanding the Types of Kanban Systems: Conwip-Input/Out Control Kanban; Kanban accumulator; Fixed Frequency Kanban, Polca System
  • Design and Implement Team Kanban Task Boards.
  • Introduction to Kanban Team Meetings.
  • How Kanban can help maximize productivity and achieve higher results.


1 - Visualize workflow. The first step in order to get set up and started with Kanban, is to visualize what your workflow is. What are all of the steps involved in getting something from To Do all the way through to Done? In this image is a simplified version of a workflow where we only have 3 STEPS: TO DO | IN PROGRESS | DONE

2 - Limit Work in Process (WIP). In this image - the In Process column has a limit of three. And what that means is, you can never have more than three items in the In Process column. 

By limiting work in process, we ensure that at least one of those items gets to Done before we start picking up more work. Teams are able to see whether the limit has been reached or not. And if some team members are ready to start working on new items but we've reached the limit, then they can collaborate with each other to make sure that something gets moved to Done in order to allow them to pick up new work. 

Limits on WIP ensures that workflow doesn't exceed capacity at any point. Once we've reached that maximum capacity of things in process, either people are working on those items or they're collaborating to get them done.

  • We don't want that limit to be so high that people start to multitask. That's exactly what we're trying to prevent by having this system in place.

3 - Focus on flow. This principle ensures that the flow of work through each stage and aspect of the work flow in monitored, measured and recorded. These metrics can then be utilized to build a business case for (or against) development activities, validation of milestones and warranting of resource changes.

Quantify & Manage: A commitment to constant improvement would involve working collaboratively according to the proof of metrics accumulated, reflection on what achieved and which modifications to the procedure may yield additional progress.

4 – Make process policies explicit. The visibility attained through Kanban allow managers and employees to discuss new explicit policies, allowing them to understand further and make improvements through a rational approach.

3 - Continuous Improvement. Kanban encourages Kaizen – the practices of identifying and applying small but tangible improvements that result in evolutionary changes. There are numerous ways continuous improvement can be accomplished in Kanban:

  • Quantify and measure how many items got from To Do to Done in a given Iteration.
  • Dependencies can be visualized and can determine whether teams are collaborating effectively and helping to remove bottlenecks.
  • Elimination of re-work and improvement in quality.
  • Increased morale and productivity in the workplace.

Continuous improvement is an important principle in Kanban as it goes back to the Toyota Production System and the idea that, if we continue to inspect our work and our working arrangements and our workflow, we can continuously improve those and continuously produce better results together as a team.

Kanban Presentation typically provides a comprehensive explanation of the basics and concepts of Kanban including the difference between Push and Pull systems. Logistically a Kanban presentation board divided into columns to manage the flow of work items through a process illustrates the pull system. 

10 Things you should know about Kanban

  1. Kanban Systems are Customizable and Unique: Kanban does not propose a “one size fits all” approach to the work as different organizations have different goals and sets of operations. The transparency of Kanban allows the organization to do an honest evaluation of the way it works: the level of demand for work to be done; how the workers deliver on that demand; the rules for when the work is started and how it is handled; the constraints and dependencies; and ultimately, whether the internal and external customers are satisfied.
  2. Kanban brings Focus and Flow: Predictability requires steady and consistent behavior. The challenge of accomplishing that in professional services work which inherently has high variation and high risk is omnipresent. Lean Kanban is not just about the elimination of waste, but also provides a method about achieving and measuring workflow. A steady and predictable workflow results with a better customer service experience.  Kanban limits the amount of WIP so the most important work is finished first and more gets done overall, all at a sustainable pace without adding staff or budget.
  3. Kanban implements Evolutionary - not Revolutionary - Change: The Kanban system starts by mirroring the current way work is done and identifies the pain points and areas of opportunity. Small changes are made to address only those identified issues. Small, gradual changes result in a smooth process that improves results without the strong resistance to change.
  4. Kanban is an Agile Based Methodology: Kanban primarily is a flow-based system. Similar to Scrum, Kanban has flexibility to work in time-boxed iterations (in particular when adapting to a ScrumBan type of method). As previously indicated that every organization is unique, so Kanban can be adapted to meet the organizational needs. It optimizes coordination and communication so work can flow more smoothly. Its managed commitment points and limits on the amount of WIP assures a focus on the most important work. If market conditions change, Kanban has flexibility to prioritize tasks and work.
  5. Kanban is a Reality Based Methodology: In contrast to other systems (in both Agile and Traditional Waterfall) which lean heavy on estimations, Kanban relies on more precise measurement, validation, and facts about actual performance. The Kanban Method incorporates the scientific method. Upon detection of an area of deficiency, an experiment (i.e. Deming's Plan, Do, Check, Act) can be tried through a deliberate process. Most importantly, with Kanban we acknowledge the current reality (including problems) without assigning blame and instead focuses on improving system issues.
  6. Kanban is Consistently Adapting: The Kanban Method is designed to be expanded and extended - in effect making it a "living system". Kanban enthusiasts and thought leaders worldwide have developed new techniques that have resulted in a vast body of knowledge. Kanban approaches now cover topics like product validation, portfolio management, depth charting, capacity allocation, motivational models and much more. Kanban is continually modified and extended in collaboration with the broad Kanban community.
  7. Kanban is a Risk Management System. Through Kanban implementation, an organization can look at its current work and develop a risk profile. Through this risk register, the organization can determine associated risks for different types of work and what it means for how the work is managed. Kanban’s attention to quantifying this measurement and feedback loops results in efficient validation of performance in high risk areas.  Additionally Kanban’s handling of risk is so easy and comfortable that workers at all levels can start thinking in terms of organizational risk when they make decisions.
  8. Kanban balances demand with capability. Market demand is manageable and known as "shaping demand". There are several methods to improve how work requests are handled, ways of reducing delay and other factors that reduce productivity. The Kanban Method specifically addresses the challenges of professional services work including the high variation environment of technology businesses as well a elimination of wasted energy or raw materials that are not needed for certain projects or orders.
  9. Kanban is NOT limited to Software Development or IT: Although Kanban was originally a manufacturing industry tool, since 2007 it has been greatly more associated with software development. However the principles of Kanban are effective in all professional services (organizations that produce delivers that are not physical items). The delivered work can range from digital to a provided service. Organizations using Kanban include: education, legal, sales, marketing, HR, design, media, film production, military, customer support, financial, research, insurance, government agencies, etc..
  10. Kanban works at Scale: Large organizations are using Kanban with thousands of employees, enterprise wide, including many remote offices. Lean Kanban offers a recommended approach to scaled Kanban called Enterprise Services Planning. Rather than creating a giant master board, Enterprise Services Planning scales by connecting many separate Kanban systems.

Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Bill Washinski
Source of the article: {Linkedin} on [2019-04-24]