Productivity is one of the essential ideas in today’s corporate environment. It is what business experts strive towards while carrying out operations.
In many companies, however, lack of productivity is a big issue. The most frequent productivity problem for today’s business professionals is a lack of time and task management.
Many of these productivity concerns may be overcome with effective workflow management and visualization. A Kanban board is one of the most effective visual tools for doing exactly this.
Visualizing your workflow and tasks on a Kanban board allows you to better understand your operations and an overview of your workload. With this additional degree of transparency, you’ll be able to identify problematic work phases immediately, and by addressing them, your team will be able to work more effectively in no time.
In this article, we will define a Kanban board, go through the basics, and clarify crucial elements that you should be aware of, especially if you are a beginner.
What is Kanban Theory?
Kanban is a visual management technique for tracking work as it progresses through a process. Kanban displays both the process aka the workflow and the actual work that passes through it.
Kanban’s objective is to detect any bottlenecks in your process and solve them so that work can flow efficiently and at closer to the ideal pace or throughput.
It all started in the early 1940s. Taiichi Ohno (Industrial Engineer and Businessman) created the first Kanban system for Toyota Automotive in Japan. It was designed as a basic planning system to properly control and manage work and inventory at each step of the process.
Why is Kanban Used?
Kanban is used in various work sectors to assist teams in reducing costs and becoming more effective by visualizing and optimizing workflows. Kanban allows you to establish a sustainable competitive edge while empowering your team to do better. Here are some reasons why you should implement Kanban in your business.
1. Better visibility
Visualization is an essential Kanban technique, and the Kanban board is the most recognized element of it. Every project has a backlog of tasks to complete and a set of processes that state that a task must go through before it can be achieved. Using the Kanban board, everyone can monitor how tasks are progressing through the process in real-time. Due to the general simplicity of its visual display, obstacles can be easily seen as they emerge.
2. Improved efficiency
Visualizing your workflow will instantly reveal areas of inefficiency. Now that you’ve identified your issue, it’s time to start asking questions! Bottlenecks, pending tasks, and an excessive amount of work in progress are all visible on the Kanban board. Every eliminated obstacle improves the flow and efficiency of your process.
3. Increased productivity
Improved efficiency naturally leads to the next Kanban benefit, which is increased productivity. Kanban benefits your productivity by shifting the focus from starting work to finishing work.
In Kanban, cycle time and throughput are the critical productivity metrics. Cycle time measures how long it takes for a task to pass through your process. Throughput measures how many tasks are delivered during a specific time period. Tracking your cycle time and throughput consistently shows you how your productivity changes over time.
4. Preventing team overburden
Traditional management methods rely on extensive planning upfront, sometimes oblivious to the team’s ground realities. The resultant push can result in teams struggling with a high workload burden.
One of the core Kanban practices is imposing work in progress limits on each process state. When the WIP limit is reached, no new tasks can enter that state until another task has left. WIP limits prevent teams from working on too many tasks at the same time.
5. Improved collaboration
Kanban benefits your team by encouraging frequent collaboration. From organizing the priorities of the day with daily Standup Meetings to deciding the direction of the business in Strategic Reviews, all team members are constantly being encouraged to work together and give their opinion on improving current processes.
The different Kanban meetings ensure that stakeholders in different areas can exchange relevant information, brainstorm solutions, and collaborate on out-of-the-box ideas.
How can you use Kanban?
Start with a simple structure while creating your Kanban board, then progressively improve it and convert it into a workflow management system by following these six steps:
1. Identify Workflow Bottlenecks on the Kanban Board
The Kanban board is an excellent tool for visualizing possible process issues. The idea is straightforward: if you observe a column where tasks arrive quicker than they leave, work will begin to pile up, and the problem will become apparent to the entire team. This might be due to a momentary problem or a bottleneck in your procedure.
We recommend that you plan your process as clearly as possible in order to get a clear view of where the problem is.
For example, on a simple Kanban board, with only one “In progress” area and numerous cards awaiting activity, it will be difficult to understand why work is becoming stuck and how to resolve the problem.
In contrast, visualizing your process in great depth with specific columns for all operational phases will help you to see where improvements can be made at a glance.
Once you’ve identified a problematic column or bottleneck, move quickly to address it and prevent it from happening again. The easiest solution is to minimize work in progress earlier in the flow. In this manner, you’ll give the folks that “own” this additional stage time, allowing them to relieve the bottleneck.
Another approach is to re-allocate the team’s efforts to meet the new needs. Kanban is meant to provide maximum flexibility, keeping you in control of all critical choices.
2. Use the Kanban Board For Limiting Work in Progress and Focus
The Kanban board is an excellent tool for discouraging your team from multitasking by imposing WIP limitations based on your capacity. You may either set a restriction on the overall number of jobs that can be active on your board simultaneously, or you can assess distinct limitations for each step of your process.
If you want to enhance the rate at which you offer value to your clients, keep every team focused on finishing tasks rather than starting a new one.
This way, people will avoid initiating new projects and instead focus on completing those that are currently in progress. Knowing that everyone can see what everyone else is doing is a tremendous incentive to always strive for higher performance.
3. Use the Kanban Dashboard to Save Time on Unnecessary Meetings
A key advantage of implementing Kanban boards is that they save time on meetings, progress updates, and other needless interruptions. The board will act as a dedicated repository for information.
It will disseminate information on who is doing what at any given moment. The Kanban board will keep you, and the rest of the team updated on how tasks are being done. This way, you won’t have to arrange as many meetings to get progress reports.
Furthermore, the Kanban board will allow you to abandon those lengthy progress report tasks that take forever to create and are already out of date by the time they are given to stakeholders.
4. Visualize Work Blockers on Your Kanban Board
The Kanban board enables you to visualize issues that are preventing your team from finishing any given task. Blockers are often indicated on a physical board with red magnets.
Blockers can be visualized in more efficient ways with digital Kanban software (e.g., stop signs on blocked cards). When anything prevents your team from continuing work on a job, they can mark it as blocked and move on to another project without exceeding their WIP limitations.
5. Automate Work Processes on Your Agile Kanban Board
Automating work processes is an excellent method to develop a mature workflow management system. Frequently, teams must cope with recurrent duties, promptly tell their colleagues about unexpected changes, issue deadline reminders, and effortlessly transfer off work to one another. When handled manually, all of these can consume a significant amount of time and cause waste and confusion in the system.
As a result, contemporary Kanban boards enable you to add automation rules to your tasks in order to optimize their flow inside the system. They are often in the form of “if-this-then-that” rules that allow you to activate preset actions inside your Kanban board whenever anything else happens.
This way, you’ll be able to automate repeated operations, cut down on unnecessary actions, and improve the productivity of your workflow management system.
6. Collect Key Workflow Metrics and Improve
Modern digital Kanban boards can automatically collect data on the cycle time, lead time, and other critical performance indicators of your activities. This will allow you to make data-driven choices regarding any modifications to your process and save you a lot of time that would otherwise be spent manually gathering measurements.
You may utilize various charts inside your Kanban board to measure workflow data and continually enhance task and project delivery.
Furthermore, understanding how to utilize a Kanban board will allow you to prioritize work much more effectively. The entire team will always be on the same page if everything is visualized in one location.
What are the use cases of Kanban in an organization?
The Kanban board, without a doubt, is a fantastic tool for boosting workflow efficiency since it visualizes all jobs in a work process and gives process flow visibility.
It enables teams to have a comprehensive picture of all work items and govern them as they progress through the various phases of their process.
Of course, while building a Kanban board, you must consider the demands of your team. As a result, the use of Kanban may change depending on the team.
Here are some great Kanban board templates that can upgrade the productivity of your team.
Source: Kanban Board Template by SlideUpLift
For teams who are new to the Kanban idea, the basic Kanban board is a fantastic place to start. It is typically composed of 6 columns with no complexities. It includes data such as Backlog, Sprint, To-Do, and many more.
This basic Kanban board is an excellent method for newcomers to see their work and establish the foundation for a highly effective workflow. Kanban finds its most natural use here.
Source: Kanban Board Template by SlideUpLift
Depending on the size of your business, your various teams may have a diverse set of activities to do. This template is fascinating as everything is displayed in a sticky note manner. Each team might include smaller sub-teams such as To-Do, In-Progress, and Done.
This is the time to employ different swimlanes for each of your sub-teams. In this manner, you can see everything that is going on in your business at a glance.
On the other hand, maintaining a repository of all of your work in one location may be a big hassle if your team grows. As a result, you should go the extra mile and create distinct boards for each of your teams.
Source: Kanban Board Template by SlideUpLift
Business operations frequently struggle with prioritizing their tasks most efficiently. This is owing to the massive quantity of work that departments must complete. Using a Kanban board to illustrate workflows, for example, may provide a significant advantage to various business operations teams.
Aside from utilizing columns to distinguish the stages of the flow, the team may use swimlanes to avoid priority conflicts and better grasp the significance of the tasks. After all, a Kanban board may help teams plan more effectively, concentrate, and produce more quickly.
Wrapping It Up
Kanban Boards are a simple, tried-and-tested technique of staying organized and assisting your team in visualizing their work. Take a look at Kanban Boards, if you’re searching for Kanban templates with powerful, intuitive features that will let your team communicate from anywhere in the globe.