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Kanban Project Management

8MSaaS Kanban is a project management system that can help you visualize activities and responsibilities and manage schedule and progress of your project. A 8MSaaS Kanban project starts with a few columns (e.g., Requested”, “In Progress” and “Done”) defined in its project type. When a Kanban card is being added, it will be insert in the column according to its status. When constructed, managed and functioning properly, 8MSaaS Kanban serves as a real-time project information repository, highlighting bottlenecks within the system and anything else which might get in the way of smooth working practices.

4 Kanban Principles

8MSaaS Kanban supports the following 4 Kanban principles:

Start With What You Do Now

Kanban’s flexibility allows it to be overlaid on existing workflows, systems and processes without disrupting what is already successfully being done; it will, naturally, highlight issues that need to be addressed and help to assess and plan changes so their implementation is as non-disruptive as possible. Kanban’s versatility allows it to be introduced incrementally, and sympathetically, to all types of organization without fear of over-commitment or ‘culture shock’. This makes Kanban easy to implement in any type of organization as there is no need for you to make sweeping changes right from the start.

Agree to Pursue Incremental Change

The Kanban methodology is designed to meet minimal resistance and thus encourages continuous small incremental and evolutionary changes to the current process. In general, sweeping changes are discouraged because they usually encounter resistance due to fear or uncertainty.

Respect the Current Process, Roles & Responsibilities

Kanban recognizes that existing processes, roles, responsibilities, and titles have value and are, generally, worth preserving. The Kanban method does not prohibit change, but neither does it prescribe it as a ‘universal panacea’. It is designed to promote and encourage incremental, logical, changes without triggering a fear of change itself.

Encourage Acts of Leadership at All Levels

This is the newest Kanban principle. It reminds you that some of the best leadership comes from everyday acts of people on the front line of their teams. It is important that everyone fosters a mindset of continuous improvement (Kaizen) in order to reach optimal performance on a team/department/company level. This can’t be a management level activity.

6 Kanban Practices

Visualize the Workflow

The first and most important thing for you is to understand what it takes to get an item from request to a deliverable product. Only after understanding how the flow of work currently functions can you aspire to improve it by making the necessary adjustments.

To visualize your process with a Kanban system, you will need a board with cards and columns. Each column on the board represents a step in your workflow. Each Kanban card represents a work item.

When you start working on item X, you pull it from “To Do” column and when it is completed, you move it to “Done”. This way you can easily track progress and spot bottlenecks.

Limit Work in Progress

Switching a team’s focus halfway through will generally harm the process, and multi-tasking is a sure route to generating waste and inefficiency; a primary function of Kanban is to ensure a manageable number of active items in progress at any one time. If there are no work-in-progress limits, you are not doing Kanban.

Limiting WIP means that a pull system is implemented on parts or all of the workflow. Setting maximum items per stage ensures that a card is only “pulled” into the next step when there is available capacity. Such constraints will quickly illuminate problem areas in your flow so you can identify and resolve them.

Manage Flow

The whole idea of implementing a Kanban system is to create a smooth healthy flow. By flow, we mean the movement of work items through the production process. We are interested in the speed and the smoothness of movement.

So, managing the flow is about managing the work but not the people. So instead of micro-managing people and trying to keep them busy all the time, we should focus on managing the work processes and understanding how to get that work through the system faster.

Ideally, we want fast and smooth flow. This would mean that our system is creating value quickly. This way we can minimize the average cycle time for production and avoiding the cost of delay but in a predictable fashion.

Make Process Policies Explicit

You can’t improve something you don’t understand. This is why the process should be clearly defined, published and socialized. People would not associate and participate in something they do not believe would be useful.

When everyone is familiar with the common goal, they would be able to work and make decisions regarding a change that will move you in a positive direction.

Feedback Loops

In order for the positive change to happen, succeed and continue, one more thing needs to be done. The Lean philosophy supports the assumption that regular meetings are necessary for knowledge transfer (feedback loops).

Such are the daily stand up meetings for team synchronization. They are held in front of the Kanban board and every member tells the others what he or she did the previous day and what will be doing today.

There are also the service delivery review, the operations review, and the risk review meeting. The frequency depends on many factors, but the idea is that they are regular, at a strictly fixed hour, straight to the point and never unnecessarily long.

The ideal average length of a stand up should be between 10-15 minutes, and others may reach up to an hour depending on the team size and topics.

Improve Collaboratively

The way to achieve continuous improvement and sustainable change within an organization is through shared vision of a better future and collective understanding of the issues that need to be overcome.

Teams that have a shared understanding of theories about work, workflow, process, and risk are more likely to build a shared comprehension of a problem and suggest steps towards improvement, which can be agreed by consensus.