Wait, what is it? Have you ever heard about it? Kanban in general is a lean method to manage and improve work across human based systems. But why so many new words? What is the lean method? No worries, we got you. Lean manufacturing or lean production is a systematic method originating in the Japanese manufacturing industry for the minimization of waste within systems without sacrificing productivity.
Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden and unevenness in work loads. Working from the perspective of a client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.
This approach aims to manage work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks. In production and project management, bottleneck is usually a single process in a chain of processes, such that its limited capacity reduces the capacity of the whole chain. The results of having a bottleneck are stalls in production, supply overstock, pressure from customers and low employee morale.
There are both short and long-term bottlenecks. Short-term bottlenecks are temporary and are not normally a significant problem. An example of a short-term bottleneck would be a skilled employee taking a few days off. Long-term bottlenecks occur all the time and can cumulatively significantly slow down production. An example of a long-term bottleneck is when a machine is not efficient enough and as a result has a long queue.
But back to the Kanban. Here, work items are visualized to give participants a view of progress and process, from start to finish — usually via a Kanban board. Work is pulled as capacity permits, rather than work being pushed into the process when requested. The aim is to provide a visual process management system which aids decision-making about what, when, and how much to produce. So here we are again, emphasizing the importance of transparent visualizing of your processes. Basically, there are three fundamental principles.
~ Visualize what you do today (workflow): seeing all the items in context of each other can be very informative
~ Limit the amount of work in progress (WIP): this helps balance the flow-based approach so teams don't start and commit to too much work at once
~ Enhance flow: when something is finished, the next highest thing from the backlog is pulled into play
Consequently, Kanban promotes continuous collaboration and encourages active, ongoing learning
and improvement by defining the best possible team workflow and it's really important in your process management. Well, are you ready to sink in?