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
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.
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 what you’re doing now, what you already did and what you need to do next.
Let’s assume you’ve decided to implement a physical kanban board, a simple white board 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 turn 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.