Once you understand the concept behind what a Kanban board is, take a moment to learn more about how they can help you plan and manage projects in a visual way.
Kanban boards were originally designed to work with the Kanban project management method, but can be adapted to any business or organization. Kanban project management tools can act as a supplement to help manage already proven processes, or they can be used to completely evaluate processes that need renewal.
With online Kanban board software, you can:
- Increase your team’s efficiency
- Maximize your time
- More easily manage projects
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One of the biggest benefits of using Kanban project management tools is they help you better achieve continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is a concept related to the Agile methodology but can be beneficial to any organization wanting to improve production.
Project managers and team members can continuously review processes and projects to actively organize priorities and respond to change.
Let’s explore how Kanban boards can help you reap the benefits of continuous improvement.
Kanban Boards for Project Management
Project managers use Kanban boards to simplify project management. Kanban boards help address a number of key issues that can cause professional project managers nightmares, the most important of these being:
- Resource allocation
- Workflow management
Online Kanban boards offer the functionality and versatility to supplement or mirror existing project management tools.
With such a diverse resource, teams spend less time learning new systems and more time meeting goals and improving process.
Project Managers use online Kanban boards to allocate resources and assign work. By making certain resources are being allocated in the most effective manner, project managers can avoid delays and overages. Resources can include on-site team members, off-site teams, third party services and systems.
Resource allocation takes place in three stages:
- Creating work items
- Assigning work to team members
- Collaborating with teams to prioritize work
Once a project begins, routinely assess priorities as part of your ongoing continuous improvement efforts. Kanban boards help guide this process, so that each time a new project enters into the workflow, the right resources are applied in the best possible ways.
Kanban boards allow project managers and team leaders to visually manage workflows and / or process flows. A workflow is the sequential completion of work items or tasks. A process flow is the order in which multiple processes are followed and relate to one another within a project.
Providing visual representations of these production indicators makes them easier to comprehend. An understanding of how different procedural elements and task-specific work relate to one another lends itself to natural collaboration between team members, and the discovery of smarter ways of working together.
Organizations practicing Lean are most interested in reducing costs by way of waste reduction. Waste is usually a result of inefficient processes or an inability to correctly direct resources due to the lack of a shared vision.
Waste comes in various forms:
- Defects – something is incorrect or not working as it was stated in business requirements
- Overproduction – producing too much, resulting in throw-away work
- Idle Team Members – team members who are held up by delays with other dependent tasks
Kanban boards help project managers identify potential trouble areas before they cause these problems. For instance, when cards are building up at one stage, creating a bottleneck, other team members can be assigned to help alleviate the overloaded person. Impediments to progress can be identified and rectified in the same way, so prior dependencies can be completed, and other work can begin.
Kanban Boards for Software Development
Software development projects tend to get complex, which can easily frustrate clients who are looking for quick answers. Kanban boards provide a visual aid for projects with multiple phases, offering transparency to stakeholders and easy-to-follow guidelines for team members.
Because of its visual nature and flexibility, Kanban boards have become very popular among software development teams practicing iterative work methods. Iterative work cycles make deliverability easier by focusing on features that ensure the project will move forward. These are called minimum marketable features (MMF). Consistent delivery of MMFs satisfies stakeholder expectations without delving into the unknown risks.
Going beyond iterations and into the unknown can lead to backtracking due to:
- Changes in technology
- Changes in an organization’s goals, objectives and / or tactics
- Changes in the scope of a project
- Changes in a projects budget
- Reprioritization of a project
We’ve all heard the saying that the only constant in life is change. Project management is no different. Working in iterations has shown to reduce waste and yield more gains in productivity by avoiding unexpected issues that can impact deliverability and time to market.