In this article, we explain the definition of Kanban and discuss how to deploy it in practice and what the benefits are.

Kanban definition

Kanban is a visual Agile project management framework originally developed for the manufacturing industry. The word "Kanban" comes from Japanese and means "visual map" or "signal. The purpose of Kanban is to visualize workflow and help the team prioritize tasks and work more efficiently.

The kanban system consists of a physical or digital board (such as Trello) with cards representing the tasks. These cards are moved between columns representing the different phases of the work process. The board can be adapted to the specific needs of the project and team.

Example of a Kanban board

Kanban in practice

In practice, Kanban is often used in manufacturing processes and software development. The goal is to visualize and optimize workflow to increase efficiency and reduce lead time. Kanban can be applied in different departments, such as manufacturing, logistics and software development. However, it is mainly applied in software development teams as an Agile project management method.

A good way to discuss the board is to have hold daily stand-ups where the team meets to discuss progress and identify any obstacles. This can be done by going over each task on the board and discussing what remains to be done to complete it, who is responsible and any challenges.

It is important that all team members are involved in these discussions and that everyone has a chance to provide their ideas and feedback. Open communication and regular reviews allow teams to monitor project progress and address problems early.

A Kanban board is a popular tool for visualizing workflow. The board consists of several columns, each column representing a stage of the process, such as "to do," "in progress," and "done. Each card represents a task to be completed, and the card is moved from column to column as the task progresses.

An important aspect of Kanban is limiting work-in-progress (WIP) to improve throughput. This means that there should be only a limited number of tasks in each column to avoid overloading the process.

Kanban is also useful for identifying and solving problems in the process. If a particular column becomes too full, this may signal a problem with workflow speed. This can be resolved by identifying the cause of the problem and adjusting the process to improve efficiency. View here a video on the practical application of Kanban. 

The added value

Kanban offers several benefits to Agile teams. It allows them to visualize the status of tasks in real time, understand where bottlenecks are occurring and identify where further optimization is possible. It also allows product owners and stakeholders to understand project status and track progress.

It is also flexible and adaptable to change because tasks and priorities can be adjusted at any time. It also allows teams to add new tasks quickly because there are no fixed iteration cycles are like in Scrum.

The system has its own set of principles and practices, including limiting work-in-progress, continuous delivery and feedback, and improving workflow in small incremental steps.

Kanban can be applied in a variety of areas, including software development, manufacturing, marketing and more. It provides an effective method for Agile teams to manage tasks, optimize workflow and become more productive.

Starting an Agile transition?

In our roadmap, read the key stages including practical tips for a successful transition to an Agile Way of Working.