Kanban helps you deliver value to your customers faster than Waterfall, Scrum, or just about any other project-management method. It helps you deliver that value with high quality, on time, and on budget.
- We spend significant time doing work that’s unrelated to delivering value to our customers.
- We attend an excessive number of meetings about planning and process.
- Problems fester for weeks or months before they are noticed, analyzed, and corrected.
- Careless team members are rewarded for pure speed, encouraging them to create costly bugs and submit incomplete work.
- Quality goes unchecked for weeks or months, which builds up an extensive amount of rework.
- Schedules slip as requirements change and work is reprioritized, which forces more meetings about planning and process and wastes the effort spent on abandoned work.
- In the end, our products are delivered late with less functionality and lower quality at higher cost. We used to just accept this outcome because we’ve always worked this way.
However, we now feel we’ve found a simple and effective solution.
- Kanban is a simple project-management technique that’s based on Toyota’s just-in-time scheduling mechanism. Using Kanban to manage our project work will allow us to focus all our time and energy on delivering value to our customers.
- Kanban has planning meetings only on demand and no special meetings about process.
- Kanban visualizes project workflow, spotlights bottlenecks the day they occur, and forces team members to immediately resolve the issue or swarm to fix it.
- Kanban prevents careless team members from prematurely designating work as complete.
- Kanban enforces clear quality bars at each step, driving quality upstream.
- Kanban minimizes work in progress, freeing teams to adjust daily to new priorities and requirements with little sunk cost and allowing a team to deliver on time.
Kanban isn’t a magic bullet. It won’t fix every problem. What it can do is simplify our project management; reduce time lost to meetings, bottlenecks, and rework; better govern our product quality; and make our throughput of customer value smoother, faster, and more predictable.
As with any work change, our team will need a few weeks to adjust to Kanban and a few months to master it. However, we’ll all enjoy the benefits—delivering on time with greater functionality and higher quality at lower cost.
Any change has risks. We list the ones for Kanban along with our planned mitigations.
Although an initial drop in productivity is expected during the first few weeks (which occurs with any change), the subsequent increases in productivity should quickly recover the lost output.
Here is an outline of our plan of action, divided into four phases:
Each phase is contingent upon a successful prior phase. Success is measured by completion of each phase’s activities and the continued engagement of the team. Overall success is measured by improvement of productivity and bug metrics over the baseline set in the first phase.