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Kanban Project Management - Everything you need to know

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Updated on:
April 12, 2023
April 12, 2023
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Kanban project management is a way for teams to work more efficiently by focusing on visual signals and work-in-progress limits. It helps teams identify problems quickly and deliver high-quality work faster. If you want to improve your team's workflow and get more done, Kanban project management might be worth trying.

If you're looking for a better way to manage your team's work and improve productivity, then keep reading. Once you sign-up, we'll show you how to set up a Kanban board and give you tips on how to get started.

What Is Kanban project management?

Kanban project management is a methodology that helps to improve productivity by visualizing workflow to identify and eliminate bottlenecks. It works on the "just-in-time" delivery principle, where work items are pulled through the workflow only when needed, reducing waste and maximizing efficiency.

The Kanban approach uses a board with columns representing each stage of the process, and work items are represented by cards that move through the workflow from left to right. This provides a real-time view of the workflow, allowing teams to quickly identify any issues and take corrective actions.

Kanban project management gained popularity in the 2000s because of its ability to help teams deliver high-quality work faster. It was originally developed by Toyota to improve manufacturing efficiency, it's now widely used in many industries, including software development, marketing, and healthcare.

Commitment points and delivery points are also used to set clear boundaries for each stage of the workflow. Commitment points indicate when work items will be pulled into the workflow, while delivery points indicate when work items are complete and ready for delivery. This helps to ensure that each stage of the workflow is completed on time and to the required standard.

What are the 5 Elements of kanban?

Visual signals

When it comes to Kanban project management, the use of visual signals is a key element. Visual signals can take many forms, such as colored cards, digital boards, or even physical signs, and their main purpose is to help team members understand the work that needs to be done and when. By using visual cues, everyone in your team can easily see the status of each task and identify any issues that may arise.

Kanban columns

Another important element of Kanban is the use of columns. These are typically organized on a physical or digital board and are used to structure the workflow. Each column represents a different stage of the process, such as "To Do," "In Progress," and "Done." As work progresses, tasks are moved through the columns to reflect their current status. The purpose of using columns is to provide a clear structure for the work being done and ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page regarding the current state of each task.

Work-in-progress (WIP) limits

You might have heard the phrase "less is more" before, and that applies to Kanban too. WIP limits are the maximum number of tasks that a team can work on at any given time. These limits ensure that your team takes on only a little work and becomes overwhelmed. By limiting the WIP, you can focus on completing tasks more efficiently and effectively.

A Commitment point

A commitment point is when the team agrees to complete a task. It's usually when the task moves from the "backlog" to the "in progress" column. Having a commitment point creates accountability and transparency within your team. Everyone knows what needs to be done and when, which helps prevent misunderstandings. It can also help you manage your workload better.

Delivery Point

This is the endpoint of the workflow where the finished product or service is delivered to the customer. The delivery point is the final destination of the work that is being tracked through the Kanban system. By visualizing the delivery point, your team can see the final output of their work and ensure that it meets the customer's expectations. This helps to create a sense of ownership and responsibility among team members and encourages them to work towards delivering high-quality products or services.

How are Kanban laid out?

Now that we know what Kanban project management is, let's talk about how it's laid out. The board is the central piece of the Kanban system, and it's where all the tasks are visualized. Each board is different, but they all follow the same basic structure. Here below are how kanban is laid out:

Kanban board

The Kanban board is a tool that helps teams visualize their workflow. It's made up of columns that represent the different stages of work. For instance, you might have a "to-do" column, a "work in progress" column, and a "done" column. You can customize the columns to fit your team's specific needs, and the board can be physical or digital, depending on what works best for you.

Kanban list

Within each column, tasks are organized into lists. Each list represents a specific type of work. For example, you might have a list for bugs, a list for features, and a list for enhancements. The benefit of organizing tasks into lists is that it makes it easy to see what needs to be done and what kind of work needs to be prioritized. By grouping similar tasks together, teams can work more efficiently and effectively.

Kanban cards

Each task is represented by a card that contains important information about the task, such as the name, description, due date, and assignee. The benefit of using cards is that it makes it easy to move tasks between columns and lists. Plus, team members can easily see who's working on what and what's coming up next. Cards also provide a quick overview of each task, making it easy to track progress and ensure that work is being completed on time.

The board, columns, lists, and cards all work together to create a visual representation of your team's workflow. It's a simple but effective way to manage tasks and stay on top of your team's progress. If you're not already using Kanban, it might be worth considering for your next project.

How to get started with Kanban boards?

If you're interested in using Kanban boards for your project, you're in the right place. Let's talk about how to get started.

The Kanban methodology is all about visualizing your workflow and limiting work in progress to improve efficiency. The first step is to create a board that represents your workflow. This can be done using a physical board, such as a whiteboard, or a digital tool.

Next, you'll want to create columns that represent the different stages of your workflow. For example, you might have columns for "to-do", "in progress", and "done". Then, you can create cards for each task that needs to be completed and move them through the columns as they progress.

The beauty of Kanban is that it's a flexible methodology that can be adapted to fit your team's specific needs. You can customize the columns, create different lists within each column, and use different colored cards to represent different types of work.

Start with Bonsai

If you want to try Kanban project management, Bonsai is a good place to start.

Bonsai is a tool that helps you create and manage Kanban boards. It's easy to use, and you don't need any special skills or technical knowledge.

One great thing about Bonsai is that it's flexible. You can customize your board to fit your team's workflow. You can add columns, change the colors of the cards, and create custom labels. Bonsai also has helpful features like WIP limits, analytics, and time tracking. These features help you stay on top of your team's progress and make sure you're meeting your goals. Try Bonsai, and sign up for a free 7-day trial.

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