Kanban is a task management model, often employed by Agile companies.
Its most important tool is a Kanban board. The board has three main panels: to do, doing, and done. It also includes cards, swim lanes, and limits, which help visualize the workflow. Kanban boards have many advantages, which we are going to discuss in this article.
- Visibility and predictability
Kanban boards provide a clear view of what you need to do, what work is in progress, and what has already been done. You can see that with just a glance at the board and the cards in different panels. This way, you can track progress, notice bottlenecks forming, and manage the workload better. The ability to track progress easily also leads to better predictability. It becomes easier to gauge when a certain project would be finished.
- Increased productivity
Kanban also improves the productivity of the team and each team member. Kanban boards limit the work in progress, and team members focus on one task at a time. It is a pull system: the team can only pull tasks when they can to do them. It is the opposite of push systems when tasks are pushed onto the team, no matter its capacity.
This way, the team will not struggle with too many tasks at hand. Everyone focuses on doing one thing at a time to move the cards to the “Done” bar as quickly as possible. Finally, if there is a problem with one task, it is easy to see and fix. The production only stops for a very short time.
Flexibility is one of the key values of Agile companies. Responding quickly to customers’ needs is essential and Kanban boards can help here.
If something suddenly changes, it is easy to make minor adjustments in the Kanban board to suit these changes. You can change tasks, directions, priorities, etc. For example, if there is suddenly a demand for a different product than the company has been producing, it is pretty easy to switch. Kanban helps minimize overproduction and waste of materials. Also, as team members only work on one task at a time, they can tackle the priority tasks as soon as they have finished theirs.
- Reducing costs and waste
There are several kinds of waste in a manufacturing environment: overproduction, waiting time, unnecessary motions. Reducing such waste is crucial for every management as waste hampers project development. Because Kanban boards improve visibility and help team members focus on one task, the waiting time is significantly reduced. Greater visibility also helps avoid overproduction and unnecessary motions.
It also results in cost savings, as it minimizes logistics costs, prevents overproduction, and reduces inventory costs. Components for production are also only delivered when needed, which also decreases the need for storage and scrap.
- Easier collaboration and better company culture
The visibility achieved with Kanban boards promotes greater collaboration. Because of greater visibility, it is easier to exchange information and work together on further improvement during the meetings.
Also, every team member has a task to complete, without which the project cannot run smoothly. Everyone has to collaborate to ensure progress. It also means that everyone’s input is valuable. Kanban allows to create a stronger, more inclusive company culture, focused on continuous improvement.
- Continuous improvement
To improve continuously, every minor problem has to be recognized as soon as possible and eliminated quickly. Kanban boards provide great visibility which greatly helps to do this. The team can see the workflow and the progress and make necessary changes. By analyzing the board, you can gain a greater understanding of how the team members work, how soon they complete their tasks, etc. Such understanding leads to better estimates, as well as continuous improvement, reaching more than just the goals set.
If you decided a Kanban board would be helpful for you, it is easy to create one. You can use a bigger sheet of paper and post-it notes, a whiteboard with markers or a digital Kanban board. There are quite a few digital boards such as Teamhood that offer many possibilities, allowing you to make the best out of your Kanban experience.