Smart and Visual Work Management
actiTIME offers a smart way to manage work process with a Kanban system. Here’s how to set it up and adapt it to your work needs.
Kanban was introduced by Taiichi Ohno, the father of Toyota production system, as a way to optimize workflow and get the most value out of available resources. Kanban system as we know it today was developed to increase efficiency of production processes and reflected Ohno’s philosophy regarding mindful usage of production resources. His famous “seven wastes” that became the basis of Lean project management methodology and Kanban technique are:
The main purpose of Kanban system, as it was introduced by Ohno, is eliminating these wastes, help teams use resources more wisely, and make work environment lean and clear. This is the main reason why Kanban is becoming increasingly popular in many industries.
As we see, these principles are originally related to production environment, but can be adapted to nearly any complex work process. So today Lean methodology, Agile/ Scrum techniques and Kanban as their essential addition are increasingly adopted in various industries, among them software development, design, consulting, and other knowledge-based fields.
Kanban brings various benefits to project managers and teams:
These benefits are especially relevant in customer service fields where workflows tend to become chaotic as project requirements, clients’ priorities and resource availability change. Practical experience shows that Kanban works perfectly for the environments where:
One of the main purposes of implementing Kanban is making the processes clear and manageable. Besides creating a clear visual picture of current progress, Kanban introduces specific rules in the work process that add clarity and help adapt the workflow to changes. Here are general Kanban rules, applicable to virtually any industry where this technique is used:
These principles simplify workflow management, make the process more predictable in case of changes, and ensure better quality of the outcome. To sum up, introducing a Kanban board in the workflow brings the following positive changes to the environments with a tendency to getting chaotic:
Kanban is often compared to project management techniques and methodologies: Kanban vs. Agile, Kanban vs. Scrum, or Kanban vs. Lean. However, the “versus” framing is hardly correct here: Kanban is just a tool for implementing and using these techniques. It helps visualize work structure, and simplifies work organized in sprints.
The metaphor of a lens seems to be a much more accurate way to describe the combination of Kanban and project management techniques. Kanban is something you choose to see through and use to focus on what’s important for you – just like a lens, it enhances workflow aspects that require closer attention.
That said, Kanban can bring some modifications to the established techniques. For example, while traditional Scrum approach doesn’t imply changes in the middle of a sprint, Kanban makes it possible. What’s more, Kanban creates a convenient environment for self-organizing teams that are one of the basic concepts of Agile and Scrum. Clear workflow, constant availability of the big picture for any team member, and high responsiveness to changes make Kanban a perfect addition to Agile processes.
Besides bringing visualization and organization benefits to work management process, Kanban has turned out to offer convenient ways to automate work. An electronic version of Kanban board is being included in many project management software solutions as a useful addition to the basic features. Kanban modules and tools are often convenient for both managers and regular employees – and here’s how:
Today, Kanban systems are available in almost all project management tools, as well as in work management and timekeeping solutions. Team and project managers can use them as a primary tool or just for reference, to stay informed on the progress – the key idea is saving efforts on work status monitoring.
Introducing Kanban in the work routine is a significant step forward in any project management process. Being a commonly used component in the Lean methodology, it works perfectly for teams that operate on the basis of Scrum and Agile approaches.
When determining whether Kanban would work for your team and worth implementation, analyze your expectations and needs within the framework you’re using for project management. You can use the experience of similar projects or teams to see how Kanban influenced their workflow, performance, and outcome.
Knowing why you’re implementing it, select the right tool for your needs that would fit into your workflow routine and provide you with all essential work process data in the visual form. Configure your Kanban system according to your specific requirements, and start saving resources and getting more work done.