Introduction to Kanban Methodology

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a lean method of managing work originated from the Toyota Production System in 1940s. Kanban, which was first implemented in enhancing manufacturing process productivity, is now widely applied as a fundamental project management tool with particular attention towards software development and knowledge work. It is oriented toward efficiency, waste reductions and continuous process improvement. Kanban is about visualization, limiting work in progress, and flowing the work items.

History of Kanban

The original use of Kanban was coined by a man called Taiichi Ohno – an industrial engineer at Toyota, as a scheduling system to enhance the production capabilities. As time progressed, it has grown beyond its initial use in the manufacturing sector and become a robust agile methodology used in software development.

Agile and Kanban Method

Relationship between Agile and Kanban

The Kanban methodology is closely related to Agile that stresses on incremental development, adaptability and customer participation. Unlike Agile methodologies such as Scrum with predetermined iterations and roles, Kanban is flexible about specific time-bound iterative work flow. It also supports rapid adaptation to change and continuous value delivery by the teams.

The Advantage of Kanban in the Agile Software Development.

Agile project management kanban enhances flow in the system eliminating clogs and making delivery optimal. It facilitates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, the delivery at early stages and responsive change.

Implementing Kanban

The Kanban Board

Central to the Kanban methodology is its board which provides a framework of the work process for any project. This usually includes the columns that depict stages of workflow, as well as cards depicting tasks. Every card moves from the left to the right across the columns as work proceeds, a visual depiction of all tasks in progress.

Setting Up Your Kanban Board.

To set up a Kanban board, first identify the stages of your workflow, visualize these stages as columns and then map tasks onto cards moving through these columns as they progress. For the setting and management of Kanban boards, tools like physical boards with sticky notes or digital platforms can be employed.

Core Principles of Kanban

Principle 1: Visualize Work

Kanban’s focus is on visualizing the work and making visible the entire workflow to all team members. In turn, it lets teams pick up on the bottlenecks and inefficiencies they have and allows for data-driven decision making in terms of improving these matters.

Principle 2: Limit Work in Progress (WIP)

Controlling of work in progress helps to keep the work flowing smoothly and avoiding distressing team members. Kanban prevents multitasking and improves productivity overall because each workflow stage has WIP limits that ensure team members cannot open new tasks before completing the existing ones.

Principle 3: Manage Flow

Kanban is used for work items management to ensure that the work flows relatively even and constant across all workflow stages. Through the analysis of flow metrics, which include cycle time and lead time, the team can be able to identify such inefficiencies.

Core Practices of Kanban

Practice 1: Make Policies Explicit

Defining process policies makes the entire workflow standardized and provides each member with a clear direction. With clear policies, everyone knows what is expected at different points of the workflow making it be smooth and effective.

Practice 2: Implement Feedback Loops

The Kanban method is built on the principle of continuous improvement. Creating feedback loops, including weekly team meetings and retrospectives, enables teams to think about their performance and enhance it on a constant basis.

Practice 3: Improve Collaboratively

Kanban requires collaboration because it brings all the team members together to recognise and resolve issues associated with workflow. Kanban allows teams to continually come up better ways in which they can communicate with each other and share responsibility while developing their processes towards optimal delivery of results.

Benefits of Using Kanban

Increased Transparency and Visibility

By being visual, Kanban increases the transparency of work and keeps all team members at par with the workflow as well as progress of each task. It promotes clear communications and teamwork among team members.

Improved Workflow Efficiency

Kanban ensures that the team works in progress is limited to only producing what is needed at a certain time and management of tasks flow. This translates to increased efficiency and delivery of high-quality work quickly.

Enhanced Team Collaboration

Kanban creates a sense of collaboration among the team members as they learn to identify issues together as well as resolve them leading to advanced problem solving and decision making skills. By so doing, the shared approach was meant to instill in every member a sense of ownership and accountability hence leading to increased productivity and better outcomes.

Kanban in Project Management

Kanban vs. Scrum

To this end, the methodology used by both Kanban and scrum is Agile though slightly dissimilar with regard to project management. While Scrum is time-boxed and has well-defined roles, Kanban is more adaptable and incorporates a commitment to ongoing release. Kanban is best fitted in cases where the teams wish more flexibility and have varying workloads.

Advantages of using Kanban on Agile project management.

Taking a cue from Agile project management, Kanban provides structures that facilitate the never-ending process of delivering value to customers, rapidly adapting to changes in customer demand and prevalent markets as well as cultivating perpetual discipline towards developing self-operating teams. This enables teams to be flexible with changing requirements and customer desires, therefore, ensuring a more customer exposure project delivery.

Getting Started with Kanban

  • Know flow and slumps of the process.
  • Build a Kanban board reflecting the workflow stages.
  • Reduce workflow chokes by keeping work in progress.
  • Ensure that feedback loops are put in place to promote continual improvement.
  • Create an atmosphere of working together in the best interests of communicating and solving problems as a team.


Overcoming Common Challenges.

Some of the challenges in implementing Kanban includes resistance to change, defining WIP limits and ensuring constant flow of work. Suitable change management strategies, constant communication and readiness to learn and improve are necessary for overcoming these challenges.

In summary, Kanban is a potent method of increasing project productivity through the concepts of Work Visualization, Limiting WIP and Managing flow.