I am a visual person, meaning I understand concepts better when I can “see” them graphically. If something is presented to me in color, I like and understand it better. As a project manager, that is why I love working with apps that use the “Kanban” method where I can see all of my projects in a grid that uses different colors to differentiate the various components.
As an added bonus, I can easily manipulate different parts of the project with a simple drag-and-drop of my mouse to change the date, list, and so on of each project component.
Kanban is a method that helps you visualize the process and workflow of your projects. The main goal of the Kanban method is to have a continuous and functional workflow structure that is able to adapt.
Where does the Kanban method come from? Where did it start?
The Kanban method was developed in 1940 by Taiichi Ohno, who was an industrial engineer and businessman. He developed the planning system for Toyota, with the main objective being able to manage and control work and inventory at every stage of automobile production in an optimal way.
At the time, Toyota (compared to its American automotive rivals) had lower levels of efficiency and productivity when compared to the American auto companies. With the creation and implementation of this method, Toyota was able to increase its productivity and reduce costs.
The Japanese word Kanban means signboard or visual signal. A simple Kanban board can consist of just three columns: Requested – In Progress – Done. But everyone is free to create as many columns as they believe is necessary, because this method is very flexible and can be modified easily.
The Kanban method has 5 principles:
1. Visualize Work
2. Limit work in process
3. Focus on flow
4. Continuous Improvement
5. Make process policies explicit
This method is so versatile that different industries have adopted it, from factories to retail, and now is being implemented with remote teams. Kanban facilitates communication and collaboration, replacing unnecessary meetings and helping eliminate bottlenecks by streamlining tasks. There aren’t no predefined roles for the team, so this encourages people to collaborate and help when someone becomes overwhelmed.
Here are some of the benefits of using the Kanban method:
1. Improvement of efficiency. Continuous improvement is one of the core elements of Kanban. This method encourages small continuous, incremental, and evolutionary changes that stick. The visual format of Kanban allows project managers and remote teams to see how the workflow is moving, review processes, and make improvements.
2. Productivity. Efficiency leads to productivity, and Kanban benefits productivity by bringing focus on the number of tasks that are being worked on and the number of tasks that are delivered. Kanban creates a consistent flow of work for a faster and more reliable delivery.
3. Reduce waste. The Kanban Method defines “waste” as all actions that don’t add value. Over-production, over-processing, and waiting. The visual aspect of the Kanban method helps identify how to organize tasks that have more value as a priority and focus on the less important ones next.
4. Teamwork and collaboration. Kanban encourages people to constantly work together, share information, ideas and brainstorm solutions. This also helps people share responsibilities and integrate each other’s work.
5. Predictability. Using the Kanban method allows project managers to provide updates based on actual data. The Kanban method creates a stable system that allows you to make decisions based on the data available instead of guessing what might go right or wrong.
Could managing your projects with the Kanban Method be a good way for you and your team? Give it a try and see!
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