Improve your team’s productivity implementing Kanban

team working

Assuming you’ve already read What is kanban and Applying kanban for task management, you can (almost) call yourself a kanban expert. With that knowledge, it’s probably old news that implementing kanban can make a huge difference in your team’s productivity.

What’s tricky, though, is learning how to implement it to maximize efficiency without covering the walls with sticky notes. To help you with that, we’ve gathered a few guidelines to keep you on the right path. 

Small steps for implementing Kanban

Effective communication + delegation of tasks

First and foremost, kanban demands effective communication and delegation of tasks. As the most popular tool to implement lean, kanban is great for organizing and visualizing work as a timeline.

To ensure the effectiveness of implementing Kanban, you need to make sure everyone knows what their responsibilities are and the role their tasks play in the company board. The board can be a physical kanban board or a kanban software, such as Pipefy.

Golden tip: Physical vs. Online Kanban Board

That way you’ll make sure that everyone knows what they have to do and the impact each of their tasks has in the overall scenario, for example: if person X delivers his part of a task late, then person Y’s part will be delayed and so on, cumulatively.

Step 1: The kanban board – visualize your tasks and their dependencies

You can begin implementing kanban with baby steps, using it to coordinate your team’s activities. What matters most is that just by looking at the board you’re able to tell

  1. what you’re doing now
  2. what you already did
  3. what you need to do next

Let’s assume you’ve decided to implement a physical kanban board, a simple whiteboard with sticky notes attached to it. The first thing everyone needs to do is make a list of their tasks including simple information about them such as expected delivery date, priority, etc.

Each task will represent a new card (or sticky note) on your board. You can color-code them using different colors for each person or adding small labels according to their priority. Pipefy allows you to create as many labels as you wish to categorize your cards.

Step 2: The tasks – limit work in progress

Transparency is one of the main advantages of using kanban. It enables managers to clearly visualize what each member of their team is doing and the progress of each task.

If Pipefy is your kanban tool of choice, for example, you can use our team task management template to manage your team’s tasks. Our advanced features allow you to filter the tasks according to their priority (labels) or owner (assignee). You can also extract detailed reports to see how long each card remained on a phase, for example.

Limiting work in progress allows you to:

  • Avoid the endless multitasking loop: If you limit how many tasks each person can do at a time, you imply that they have to take responsibility for it through the entire process. If they have to stop what they were doing to do something else, for example, establish that they must move the previous card to the “on hold” phase before moving something else to “doing”
  • Focus on quality instead of quantity: By establishing that a person can only work on one thing at a time, you allow them to focus entirely on it. It helps avoid feeling pressured by everything else they need to do

Step 3: Pull, don’t push

Kanban is, as a general rule, a pull-based process. Before your face turns into a question mark, let me explain what that means. Contrary to a push system, pull systems let people pull work to themselves when they have the time and resources*.

In an environment managed according to the kanban methodology, work is not pushed or assigned by someone else. For example, a generic task “A” is created on the design team’s board backlog. Whenever a team member with the right abilities has time/resources he’ll pull the task and assign it to himself.

This is not focused entirely on letting people choose what they want to work on. It’s about letting people set their own pace and determine when and if they have the skills and time to take care of a specific task.

* Always respecting the work in progress limit!

Step 4: Work cycle – do, get feedback, adapt, change, test…

Implementing kanban is not a static process. It’s actually as dynamic as the cards on your board, always moving from left to right according to their progress.

Always keep your eyes wide open to receive your team’s feedback and continuously improve your internal processes. Doing that you’ll make sure you’re changing for the best, one step at a time.

In this sense, how do you can improve your team collaboration using online kanban boards?

Working with a team in any way always has its challenges no matter how well matched the members of that team may be. One way to effectively bring a team together on the same page is by using agile systems and collaboration tools, such as online kanban boards. And the best way to do this you ask? 

What are the advantages of using online kanban boards?

Well, for a start it can bring team members who are in different locations together in real-time. No missed emails or glitchy Skype calls needed. An online Kanban board can be accessed from any location by every team member at any time, so those pesky time zones can’t get in your way either!

The biggest asset this provides is convenience! Why over complicate things when you can do it all in one place?

What else can online Kanban boards offer to unify your team?

One big advantage is that an online kanban has built-in metrics to measure and analyze the projects over time. This can track performance and changes in your workflow, allowing you to adjust your system for future improvements, which only re-establishes the main principle of kanban, constant improvement!

The final way that an online kanban board organizes your team is by staying current. It’s only hip to be square in the last century. Today, companies who innovate and keep up to date with the latest technologies are the ones who succeed! Like-minded individuals can thrive in this type of environment using this type of software, so give it a try!

Try this template

Create your own online Kanban boards with Pipefy!

Pipefy is an intuitive, simple to use, workflow software. We allow businesses to run all their processes in a single platform, ensuring efficiency and solid execution.

Pipefy works as an online Kanban system where tasks move laterally through the multiple phases of your process. Each of your process’ phases can have its own set of work rules, triggers and if needed, a designated owner.

Don’t waste any more time, try Pipefy!

Written by
Isabelle Wuilleumier Salemme
Head of Customer Support @Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to help users make the best of Pipefy via support and writing informative content pieces. Besides being in charge of support, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover, and a professional photographer.
Request a demo