In our previous blog post, we told you what Kanban is. Then, Jamie’s Note explained why we included Kanban Boards in Chase. In this post, we’ll discuss how to get started with Kanban. As we said before, Kanban isn’t for everyone, either because of fit or preference. But if you’re managing a continuous flow of work, it’s definitely a great way to gain visibility of your performance and improve efficiencies.
Here’s a quick overview of the principles:
Chase’s Kanban Boards show a set of vertical columns and each column represents a phase of work. The simplest layout has To-Do, Doing and Done columns but you can create more to model important milestones in your workflow. However, it’s best to have as few as possible to keep things simple.
Colour your work
The first column will be loaded with cards, each of which represents a unit of work. Although optional, cards can be coloured to indicate their purpose. For example, red cards could mean urgent work whereas white cards might be internal tasks. Cards also hold information identifying the work to be done.
Prioritise the backlog
The first column is the backlog of work to be completed. Every card in the backlog must be prioritised from top to bottom by the traffic manager or other designated manager. This ensures tasks are being tackled according to their urgency.
As workers finish current tasks, they’ll become available for new work and will independently pull cards from the first column (or backlog). Notice that the system is self-regulating – as long as the backlog is correctly prioritised, things should run smoothly. Work will progress through one (To-Do) or more columns (if you have created any) until it arrives at the Done column.
Implement WIP limits
WIP limits are vital to success. This means setting the maximum number of card (tasks) that can appear in work in progress (To-Do) columns at any time. WIP limits ensure that workers don’t get overloaded or are forced to continually switch between tasks. There are many benefits to setting WIP limits, like forcing discussions on how to improve workflow or limiting new business to your capacity.
Assessing performance becomes easy. You simply measure the time it takes for cards of a specific task type to get from the backlog to the Done column. With this information, you can set a baseline for improving your throughput for each kind of activity.
By constantly experimenting, you can find ways to get work finished quicker. This might mean pairing designers and copywriters, changing your office layout, using online proofing and Chase Chat to communicate faster than email, and more. You can also use Chase Consulting to develop better workflows.
There’s much more to Kanban but Chase Kanban Boards give you the most critical component for getting started. If you’d like to know more about implementing Kanban successfully, you’re welcome to ask us for assistance.