Kanban (Literally means “Signboard” in Japanese) is a methodology of managing tasks within a project. It works to help control workflow within a project and visualise the progress made towards the overall solution.
This methodology was Pioneered in the 40’s by engineers at Toyota to try and match their inventory levels with consumption patterns, gaining efficiency from managing the amount of excess materials. Further info on Kanban
Originally used in factories to pass physical cards representing a job that needed to be done, such as replace an amount of material. Kanban has since evolved and is now being used across multiple industries including Software development. Offering a visual management platform in both physical and digital format for JIT (Just in Time) Manufacturing.
Having a visual representation of your project and tasks allows you to easily see levels of progress, current workloads and identify problems such as bottlenecks. This allows your team to communicate the state of the project better.
Limit work in Progress:
Continuing from the visual advantages, Kanban helps to identify tasks which have been in progress or ready to test for too long. Helping members of the projects identify long standing tasks and pulling them across the board faster, This increases the progress of the project as well as potentially pave the way for tasks with dependencies.
Kanban lets you see how much work is being performed by each member of a team, How long tasks take them to complete etc. From this you can try to assign tasks more effectively to members of the team and try to improve the flow of work going through the board
How is that relevant in software?
Kanban can be implemented for almost any project and industry. It allows for teams to monitor the amount of ongoing tasks and match these with the capabilities of the team involved in development.
This visualisation of the process can allow more flexible planning and adaptations to schedules. Clearer focus within the team and an overall view of the state of the project.
Kanban in Agile Development
“Agile approaches help teams respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work cadences and empirical feedback…” – http://agilemethodology.org/
So where does this board come into it?
Well a combination of Scrum and Kanban can be a very effective way to manage your software projects. The Kanban board mixed with the idea of iterative development, constant review and regular status checks. Which will help you to manage your projects.
This combination works well because your project is put onto a Kanban board. Then set your goals for a sprint as being able to pull a task across from one column to another. Daily scrums (short meetings to check progress) can then be used to monitor and track the project. Allow time to revaluate and re-plan work where necessary. Giving you room for flexibility and allowing you to adapt to changing market or client requirements and demands.