What is a Kanban board?
A Kanban board is a tool used for workflow visualization and is one of the critical components of the Kanban method. By visualizing the project workflow, which represents each step, project progress is transparent as the board is there for all to see. Kanban enables many projects to proceed fluidly across the board at once. David Anderson, who created the Kanban method and first displayed the Kanban board, had a clear goal. He wanted to create more efficiency with visualization to help with the complexities of managing multiple projects.
Why is the Kanban effective?
As mentioned, the objective of the Kanban board is to visualize the project workflow. It shows work-in-progress, with the ultimate goal of being able to view multiple projects, including project progress at any given time. Teams utilize columns, cards, and continuous improvement to help in the allocation of work, to spot troublesome areas, and to stay organized. It helps improve efficiency. Kanban works within the Agile framework with the ultimate objective of being flexible and allowing for changes at any given time.
Kanban board facilitates Agile project management with release planning, backlog management, and sprint planning.
It enables team collaboration, change management, and creative flexibility to meet the ever-changing market.
The Release Planning board is where stakeholders plan sprints and commit to the user stories from the backlog.
- Sprints and user stories are created in the release planning Kanban board in PlanStreet. Project managers and product leaders create user stories under backlog columns.
- Sprints can be created from the Agile Kanban board and made active and inactive at any given time.
- Release planning also acts as a base to monitor progress in a project. Scrum Masters can have multiple sprints active at a time or just one sprint.
- Kanban board users can use the Agile Kanban board to perform release planning activities like moving stories from backlog to a sprint and between sprints
PlanStreet provides backlog board as part of the release planning Kanban board where product owners create user stories and prioritize them. The Backlog board is scalable to support enterprise projects and updates the Portfolio Backlog board.
- Backlog in the Agile Kanban board enables users to create, plan, and prioritize stories, reorder them by dragging-all in an optimized backlog.
- User Stories have integrated checklists, threaded-comments, file attachments, and the ability to assign multiple team members.
- The story-point system determines the complexity of each user story and checklist. Teams collectively decide and commit to the user stories as per the assigned points.
- Product owners and project managers collectively create, prioritize, and manage backlog for each scrum team.
Sprint planning, an event in the scrum framework, facilitates planning user stories for either single or multiple sprints. Users can start, organize, or complete sprints easily.
- Teams can view current and future sprints in chronological order in the Agile Kanban board.
- PlanStreet provides a detailed sprint Kanban board for each sprint where project managers and product owners categorize work items as per teams and priority.
- Unfinished user stories can be dragged from completed sprints back to the backlog or future sprints.
- Key aspects of current sprints such as planned start and end dates, number of story points can be seen by users anytime.
Elements of a Kanban board
Visual Signals are visual cards that explain what the team is working on. The card, which could be a stickie, ticket, or card represents one user story. The idea is to summarize a user story or project on each card. The visual summaries keep everyone, team members, and stakeholders aware of the focus of the team is at any given time. The Kanban board is a visual way to show the specifics of a project, when it started, the progress and any problems that may crop up.
Kanban teams often have a few projects on the board. The commitment point is an indicator if there is a backlog, and if a new project can start. This is where teammates put ideas for projects that the team can begin when they are ready to proceed. The commitment point is the moment when the project commences, and the team starts work. Everyone can see when the project has officially started by looking at the Kanban board.
Work In Progress (WIP) Limits
WIP limits are the maximum number of cards that can be in one column at any given time. A column with a WIP limit of four cannot have more than four cards in it. When the column is “maxed-out,” they need to be moved along, so that other cards can come into that workflow. Once they move, other cards can enter that particular workflow space. These WIP limits are important for revealing bottlenecks in the workflow and keeping the project moving at an optimal pace. WIP limits serve as an indicator when too much work is on the schedule.
Columns are a major feature of a Kanban board. Each column symbolizes a particular activity that is represented by a workflow. The cards go through the workflow until it is complete. Workflows can represent different stages, like “Progress”, “To do,” or “Complete”. These are very important in the Kanban concept, as it identifies what work is in progress, and it can show any bottlenecks or problems that can occur. Because the columns can indicate problems, such as not enough resources, it is used to identify problems before they occur.
Comparison of the Kanban board to other tools
It is helpful to compare Kanban to other project tools and resources to get an understanding of how it compares in terms of its’ efficiency.
The relation between Agile and Kanban:
Agile is more of a methodology and a thought process. Think of Kanban as working within the Agile process because, like Agile, the Kanban framework’s main objective is to take an iterative approach.
- Kanban is flexible like Agile and allows for changes because of the fluidity of projects. Agile takes a structured and iterative approach to project management and product development. It allows constant change and thus saves a lot of time and energy.
- Where Agile is a method, Kanban and Scrum are frameworks and have their way of implementing projects. But there are major differences.
- Kanban uses a framework that visualizes the entire workflow on the board. The advantage of Kanban is the visual overview as the project changes over time. Everyone is looking at the same thing on the Kanban board and can meet and change things dynamically.
The relation between Kanban and Scrum:
The Scrum framework is very different. It uses intervals to achieve progress. The objective is to create learning loops to integrate customer evaluation and feedback very quickly. Scrum teams take on certain roles and often meet to get the project done quickly. The work is not continuous; it begins and then stops with each interval.
- The major difference between Scrum and Kanban is that Scrum has a regular fixed time for project goals, which are called sprints. Kanban has a continuous flow; changes are made continuously.
- Scrum delivers at the end of every sprint, whereas Kanban delivery is uninterrupted.
- There are no required roles in Kanban, unlike Scrum. No changes are made during the period of change in Scrum. While with Kanban, change can happen at any time.
As you can see, these two frameworks are very different, but they achieve the same goal.
Advantages of Kanban
- Kanban is great for teams that have lots of incoming requests that may or may not vary in scope and size.
- Where Scrum processes require high control over what is in play, Kanban remains fluid with no stop and starts.
- Unlike other project tools, Kanban does not have releases on a regular schedule, releases are on a continual basis. And there are no roles. Everyone, the entire team, owns the Kanban board. It is up to the whole team to coordinate and ultimately deliver the project.
- Everyone is allowed to make updates to the Kanban board. This type of fluidity makes the Kanban board effective in emphasizing constant communications.
Use of Kanban in multiple types of projects:
The main goal of the Kanban board is the ability to visually display a project or several projects while enabling team members to use the board consistently. PlanStreet's Kanban boards are used on different types of projects.
- Firms engaged in product development use Kanban board visual display process to manage unknowns and be successful.
- Change Management process is best handled using a Kanban board. Stakeholders can effectively plan and mitigate risks associated to change management.
- Lean Manufacturing is achieved by using Kanban boards effectively during the complex manufacturing processes.
- Research and Development (R&D) has extensive use of Kanban boards during the risky and unknown process of R&D.
- A Marketing Kanban board might list the various campaigns, types of promotion, effectiveness, overall steps, and response.
Discover how PlanStreet’s Kanban board does release planning in an effective way
We are certain PlanStreet’s Kanban board will assist you and your team(s) with project planning and tracking.