What Is Kanban?

Kanban is a well-known framework for Agile software development. It necessitates real-time capacity communication and complete work openness. On a Kanban board, work items are visually depicted, allowing team members to view the status of each piece of work at any moment.

Kanban and Scrum are two distinct techniques for handling complicated tasks while using Agile. It’s simple to point out the differences between Scrum and Kanban techniques. However, both frameworks will assist you in creating better goods (and services) with fewer problems.

Kanban Definition

Starting in the 1960s, the Japanese phrase “Kanban” — which means “visual board” —  described a scheduling system for lean production, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS).

However, Kanban departed the automobile industry’s domain and was effectively transferred to other complex business areas such as IT, software development, R&D, thanks to David J. Anderson. He transformed the methodology to a gradual, evolutionary process and system change approach. 

We can break down its core into two principles centered on getting things done.

Principles of Change Management

The driving idea of Kanban is change management. The framework is about blending in non-disruptively with existing processes, and pursuing continual development. Here are the change management principles:

1. Start With What You Do Now

Kanban allows you to layer the technique on top of current workflows, systems, and procedures without upsetting the status quo.

2. Agree to Pursue Incremental, Evolutionary Change

Implementing cooperation and feedback forms to promote incremental and evolutionary improvements to the current process.

3. Encourage Acts of Leadership at All Levels

Base your efforts to encourage leadership on people’s everyday observations. Your team is likely making note of areas for improvement and taking actions to enhance their working conditions.

Principles of Service Delivery

Kanban seeks to create a service-oriented mindset. It necessitates a deep understanding of your customers’ demands, creating a system of services where people self-organize around the job. It supports the continual evolution of your system.

There are 3 principles of service delivery:

  1. Focus on Customer’s Needs and Expectations: Each organization’s focus should be on providing value to its customers.
  2. Manage the Work: When you manage the work in your network of services, you enable individuals to self-organize around the job.
  3. Regularly Review the Network of Services: Promoting a customer service culture, you must evaluate a service-oriented strategy regularly once it has been formed

Kanban Board Explained

Kanban is an evolutionary change management approach that incrementally enhances the current method. By making numerous slight adjustments rather than one major one, you decrease the risks to the whole system. 

The first step in learning about Kanban is to envision the process. A Kanban board originally consisted of a simple whiteboard and sticky notes or cards (however, digital boards are frequently being used with remote work becoming ever-present.)

On a traditional Kanban board, there are three self-explanatory columns:

  • “To Do”
  • “Doing”
  • “Done”

Using a basic visualization of an entire project can provide significant insight into the work’s allocation and any current bottlenecks. Of course, depending on the complexity of the process and the requirement to visualize and study certain portions of the workflow in identifying bottlenecks and removing them, you will need to expand on the core premise.

Kanban Development Team

Kanban has roles, although they are far less critical in Kanban than they are in Scrum. Teams that practice Kanban might appoint two additional roles outside the standard allotment:

Service Delivery Manager

The Service Delivery Manager is a position committed to making your operation more efficient. The role is also known as Flow Manager. It’s not designed to replace a Scrum master, despite certain parallels in the positions.

Here are the primary responsibilities of the Service Delivery Manager:

  • To ensure that tasks are completed promptly
  • To assist in adopting change and improvement activities

Service Request Manager

Another Kanban position added as a team member is the Service Request Manager (SRM). Its responsibilities are comparable to that of the product owner in Scrum, in that they are responsible for knowing the needs and expectations of the clients.

An SRM’s main objective should be to act as a risk manager and facilitator, as well as:

  • Organizing work items from the backlog and making it easier to prioritize what comes next.
  • Taking responsibility for the system’s policies, which helps to define choices.

Product Manager

While operating within a Kanban methodology, the Product Manager would still be the one to create the roadmap and liaise with the stakeholders.

Still Have Questions?

If you’re learning the ropes of product management, it helps to have some support. Product Gym is a lifetime membership program for PMs, PM job hunters, and product people of all sorts. Getting people jobs in product management is our bread and butter: that makes us very good at assessing where you’re at in your job hunt and equipping you with the knowledge and skills you need to kickstart your dream career in product management. And that includes necessary information like learning about product management frameworks like Kanban.

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Product Manager skills and job search tactics, get in touch with us! We’re offering free career coaching sessions with our in-house team of PM Training experts. We’d love to hear from you.

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