Kanban Boards: How it can help your projects?

Last updated on September 9, 2022

Jump to Section

Kanban Board

It is no news that ideation and planning for projects are the most challenging part of being a project manager. Resources can visualise their actions better when managers lay down the exact steps to take, especially at the beginning of the project cycle.

The kanban system is a unique solution which follows this exact principle. It is an emerging project management trend, which many companies have adopted it as a part of different functions. Teams can delineate tasks much more easily through this method by categorising them into different categories of action. It is much more dynamic way to organise tasks than traditional methods as they use pictorial guides for different tasks. After all, they do say that if you can imagine it, you can achieve it.

The tool in question, is not particularly a recent invention. The Kanban tool was created back in the 1940s by a Japanese engineer working at Toyota. Taiichi Ohno had invented this simple visual method to organise deliverables in his projects by marking them into different categories of action. This has removed inefficiencies which could have potentially derailed projects.

The tool which focused on continuous delivery and collaboration among teams was quickly adopted by software companies into an agile framework, and is now being used extensively. Another interesting point is that due to its focus on visibility, it has been often compared to scrum methodologies.

Read on to know more about how Kanban is different from scrum, and how you can use the process effectively in your projects.

1. Kanban vs scrum: what are the differences?

Kanban and scrum are both agile methods which are constantly improving how projects function. So how do you, as a project manager, take a call between these two equally effective and popular processes?

A. Project framework

The scrum methodology can work for you if you prefer a fixed framework and are bound by timelines on the project. Improvisations and changes are included in the project cycle of both scrum and kanban agile methodologies. The scrum method works in certain cycles, or sprints. Kanban, on the other hand, has a more fluid way of functioning, with no set timelines on tasks. This is one of the major differences between scrum and kanban.

B. Certification

When adopting scrum, your company may need scrum masters, product owners, and development teams. You could also consider getting a scrum master certification so as to contribute more and lead your team better. On the other hand, kanban can be implemented by any team, and no certification is necessary.

C. Delivery cycle

Gartner’s report on Kanban adoption also states how you can use continuous delivery to manage your project better. Changes can be immediately included in the system, and the success of your project is based on the lead time, or time taken to complete the tasks. Since the kanban chart does not have a fixed time limit, it helps you focus more on the continuous improvement of your processes and functioning, ultimately enabling better project performance.

Let’s take a detailed look into some of the benefits of kanban boards.

2. Benefits of the Kanban system

Now that you’ve got a clear idea of the basics of Kanban, let’s look at the various benefits which you, as a project manager, can take advantage of while adapting the tool.

A. Extremely flexible and adaptable

A Kanban board is one of the simplest ways to schedule tasks. Information is presented in visually which helps all your team members understand their tasks easily. Tasks are then categorised into three stages – To do, Doing, and Done. There are no specific time limits which you need to set for the different tasks. However, it calls for your focus on the completion of different tasks.

The Scrum methodology can incorporate iterations only at the end of the cycle. However, in a Kanban board, there is no limit to the number of iterations that you can include in the process.

Due to its easy format, your team can use this board, no matter what industry you belong to. In case there are any changes, you can add it to the process immediately, without waiting to reach the end of a certain stage in the project. Since the process is not time-bound, you needn’t worry about delays in the process.

B. Focus on increased outputs

Kanban boards help you visualise all tasks easily on the dashboard. Rather than resorting to micromanaging your teams with constant task reminders, you can just ask them to update the status of the tasks on the board. What’s more, resources can also immediately list out bottlenecks on the board. You can also set a limit on the number of tasks which are on WIP, therefore ensuring that a major part of the project is always functioning. This will also help your resources stay aware and their tasks faster, without keeping things in the lurch.

If you believe that multitasking reduces the productivity of your employees, the Kanban tool is just for you. By asking your resources to focus on tasks and not multiple projects, you are helping them break work into bite-sized chunks. This way you’ll observe that your teams are able to complete more work in a shorter amount of time without risking the final work quality.

C. Easy access to online boards

The simple structure of the Kanban method makes it easy to incorporate into any resource scheduling tool that you may be using for your projects. Although the Kanban tool was initially ideated on a physical board, many companies are using it on online platforms today.

One of the main benefits of using a kanban board online is that old project details and their performances can be accessed at ease. You can also set a limit to the number of tasks on WIP and resolve bottlenecks faster on an online platform, which helps you to guide your resources better.

All your stakeholders can view these boards at any time on a variety of digital platforms, making it easy to interact with. Your team members, including remote workers, can focus on one task at a time, and tick them off the WIP column once completed. As a project manager, you can also keep a better track on your teams with real-time updation of the boards from your resources as well.

D. Continually improve your processes

Kanban helps you eliminate steps from projects which are time-consuming and inhibits your team’s full potential. The board helps streamline your workflow better with targeted tasks for resources and by removing tasks which do not add value to the project, team, or organisation. In case of any issues which are impeding tasks from getting completed, the kanban board uses the block function.

As a decision-maker whose objective is to minimise the tasks in the WIP column, the block feature would help you go to the source of the problem, and resolve issues faster and better.

You can also take advantage of the transparency offered by the system by being on top of what your employees are working on all the time. Your resources can focus more on the tasks at hand with a reduced number of status updates and meetings. Details of the project, such as the list of resources, tasks and inventories, can be listed on the kanban board itself and can be made available to both you and other stakeholders. This helps everyone involved track different tasks at hand, and avoid unnecessary update meetings.

E. Review old tasks and evolve

The Kanban method is an effective way to improve your team’s performance. It comprises of a weekly review system which would help your stakeholders and resources look back at their work, and take notes for the future. This is done at both individual and team level.

At the individual level, your resources can work on improving their performance regularly. Each of your resources can individually track their own performance and take adequate steps to improve them in the future. At a project level, you can use the lead time functionality to improve the project performance. Get a stock of the total time taken for tasks to go from the not completed to the done stage, and how it can be improved in the future. It helps you get an idea of the most time-consuming tasks, and devise ways to make them more efficient.

3. Over to you

Given the Kanban tool’s track record of simplifying project work for project managers, the next logical step you should take is to build a team whose skills utilization is not only easy to track but also facilitates seamless project delivery and a fast resolution of issues and bottlenecks.

Would you consider trying out the kanban method for your projects? Let us know in the comments!

Get resources to your inbox directly!

Recommended Articles

Book Your Free Customized Trial Today!

See how intuitive and effective our Resource Management Solution is by booking a free, custom-configured trial.

Press Esc to close
Press Esc to close
Press Esc to close