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Make Your Company More Efficient by Implementing Kanban

By February 25, 2019 No Comments

Businesses should always be looking for ways to implement new processes that create a standard operating procedure. Alternatively, they should be trying to optimize the procedures they have to make them more efficient. Unfortunately, change management can be a beast. Moreover, many organizations don’t know how to start making a procedural shift. Kanban provides answers to this dilemma.

Kanban is a process that development teams can use to continuously put out new data at an efficient-yet-sustainable rate. This gives their companies the best possible returns. Here’s how to implement Kanban in your company.

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Understanding Kanban

Kanban is a project management process targeted at developers. However, the philosophy can be applied to any business that requires project management protocols. The key philosophies can be summed up as visualization, limitation, and enhancement.

First, you must visualize the current workflow. Look to see how the various steps and components relate contextually to one another. What makes sense? What doesn’t?

Next, put limitations in place surrounding the work in progress (also known as “WIP”). Your aim should be to find a balanced workload that produces continuous work without becoming overbearing.

Finally, incorporate enhancements by implementing strict policies and procedures. Additionally, optimize to create a streamlined workflow, making changes as needed. Also, use kanban metrics and analytics to assess the effectiveness of the process. This will help you to make strategic decisions and alterations.

Take Baby Steps

The best way to fail at implementing Kanban is to try to make all of the related changes at once. This massive shift in procedures can be extremely stressful for all involved. Moreover, it will result in poor quality work and turnover, stalling production.

Instead, your goal when implementing Kanban should be to shift your business to work with the new protocol. This means that Kanban must meet the business where it currently is. This will make for an smoother transition.

To take baby steps in implementing Kanban, consider what aspects of the philosophies and transition you’d like to start. At the same time, educate your people about the upcoming change.

Take a positive angle and tell people how it will help them. This will make the transition easier for them to accept and even welcome. For example, you could select a few small projects to start implementing Kanban. Thereafter, slowly transition projects as they arise, leaving legacy projects as they are.

Complicate the Visual Process

The idea of complicating anything sounds counterintuitive. However, in a Kanban transition, it makes sense. Being able to visualize and assess a workflow is essential for helping a team learn the new way things are being done. As a result, it’s important not to overly compress and streamline the project management or Kanban board.

For example, a project management board on Trello might have three columns: to-do, in progress, and complete. This is a clean way to keep track of things. However, it doesn’t show all of the work that went on behind the scenes to move an item from one column to the next.

With the Kanban process, you need to see all of those steps broken out and visualized. When you do, every team member knows what their peers are working on. This improves efficiency. Also, it helps bolster team collaboration.

Stress the Importance of WIP Limits

WIP limitations are put in place for a reason. The philosophy behind this is that your team should only take on as much as they can do well. In other words, they should stop before they reach the threshold of diminishing returns.

A comparable analogy would be competitive weightlifting. It doesn’t matter how much weight you can put on your back if your form is unacceptable and you can’t complete the lift. Teach your team to respect the WIP limits from day one. In this way, you’ll set them up for long-term success.

Always Be Optimizing

Kanban isn’t a one-and-done implementation process. You should always be using the tools available to you to read the metrics and analytics. As you do, you will be able to make strategic adjustments to your workflow.

Therefore, treat every adjustment like a science experiment. What do you think will happen if you adjust this part of the process? Are there variables that could affect your success? What effect did the shift have?

Stress the importance of limitations and relying on your data. Then you’ll be able to change the face of your business through the implementation of Kanban.

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