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Kanban - project management

Kanban - project management

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Kanban project management is a methodology in which the project workflow is visualized and broken down into actionable parts. Workers on a Kanban team are assigned tasks and focus solely on their work.

It is essential to consider whether a Kanban tool is the best project management method. The decision will depend on the size and preferences of the team, as well as on the specifics of the organization, the scope of work, and the project as a whole.

The main advantage of the Kanban structure is that it dramatically improves how projects are managed without changing the organizational structure. Due to its flexibility, it encourages continuous change throughout the project, unlike environments like Scrum, where there is no opportunity to make changes during the sprint.

The Kanban system is helpful for one-time projects where tasks do not go through multiple stages. Iterative projects, such as developing application features, where you must return to the design several times, are unsuitable for a Kanban framework. Therefore, although the Kanban structure is used in many industries and disciplines, it works exceptionally well for organizational structures with a continuous workflow (marketing, events, or publications).

Kanban works best when tasks can be completed within a single command without too many dependencies. For this reason, it is not suitable for complex projects that require multiple tasks, stages, and owners. It is also inappropriate for projects where most tasks require shared resources.

Here are the four main aspects of Kanban project management:

1. Current workflow

Kanban's flexibility means it can be incorporated into existing workflows without disruption.

2. Additional changes

Kanban's philosophy is based on making incremental (minor) changes that revolutionize the workflow rather than radical changes that are often questioned and resisted.

3. Recognizing the value of current processes and roles

The Kanban methodology does not nullify existing processes and roles. This allows the project team to make decisions and make changes where needed.

4. Inspirational leadership

The philosophy of Kanban, based on "small changes to grow", encourages all team members to constantly improve to achieve optimal performance.

The Kanban method in project management provides three key benefits:

1. Increases concentration

Online project management software, such as a digital Kanban board, allows team members to understand their responsibilities and participation in a project. Employees can focus entirely on their work by eliminating other distractions, knowing that their colleagues are doing the rest.

2. Improves communication

Research shows that most companies struggle: 8 out of 10 people rate business communication as average or poor. An online Kanban board facilitates improved communication to let team members understand the project's needs better. This is facilitated by the ability to add comments to the cards.

3. Improves organizational skills

A report published in 2019 found that less than 14% of people believe their company has excellent project management performance. Organizations can solve this problem by using Kanban project management as it improves planning, prioritization, and tracking. The software allows teams to collect all their work in one place, including dynamic Kanban boards.

A Kanban board for project management can be used in the following ways:

1. Choose Kanban Software

A working OS with Kanban functionality allows project managers to create entire boards with a few clicks. As the software has evolved, keeping Kanban cards up to date and managing the workflow digitally has become more accessible.

Most programs also provide templates for creating boards for each project and the ability to customize the elements within the board, from color to cycle time.

2. Create a Kanban board

A few simple steps will get you started:

  • Determine the main processes in the workflow;

  • Choose the appropriate template for this workflow;

  • Guided by the template, edit the columns;

  • Create cards for each task;

Update all necessary data for each card, including:

  • appointed members;

  • deadlines;

  • comments;

  • descriptions;

Place the cards in the appropriate columns.

With multiple projects, managers can use the Kanban structure to create multiple boards.

After creating a Kanban board, the focus is on completing the task.

3. Analysis

Project managers can track the average time a card travels through a workflow and see how many tasks were completed in a given time.

Digital platforms allow for more comprehensive metrics measurement because dynamic templates allow multiple views, including Kanban. Before choosing a good Kanban tool, it's helpful to learn about the available features to make the right choice. Consider some of the critical features of project management software within the Kanban methodology:

  • intuitive and easy-to-use interface;

  • visual flexibility;

  • settings;

  • centralized communication;

  • automation;

  • integration.

There are many Kanban applications and project management applications that offer Kanban as part of a larger package.

Regardless of the needs of a particular project, there are a few general Kanban application features to look out for:

  1. Drag and Drop Moving cards between lists is at the core of using Kanban boards, so it's hard to find a Kanban app that doesn't have a drag-and-drop feature. Dragging a card and moving it around the list (up or down) should be easy. In the map settings, there is usually an option to move or copy the map from one board to another.

  2. Assignees or members Kanban board apps allow you to invite others to collaborate on a project inside and outside your organization. This happens on two levels: the board and the card.

  3. Descriptions, comments, and chat In most Kanban applications, each card has a field for describing the task and adding any additional notes, as well as the ability to comment. Many Kanban applications have recently developed deeper integration with communication tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack. Hence, discussing Kanban projects and leaving comments on cards directly from these chat tools is possible.

  4. Checklists Working on tasks is rarely a simple process, so most Kanban project management applications usually include a subtask or checklist feature.

  5. Attachments Attaching documents directly to a Kanban card is essential for the centralized storage of project information and more. You can upload attachments directly (in which case you will need a tool with sufficient cloud storage) or add a link to where the attachment is located in your cloud storage. In some Kanban applications, if you attach an image file, a preview of the image will even appear on the card cover at the board view level.

  6. Limits of work in progress (WIP) Processes can become overloaded if too many tasks are on the list simultaneously. Therefore, some Kanban applications allow you to limit the number of tasks that can be included in a work-in-progress (WIP) restricted list. The WIP limit tools are most often located in the layout editor for the Kanban board, and you can enter a number to limit the maximum number of cards needed.

  7. Deadlines and notices Tasks without due dates often don't get done, which makes setting deadlines for Kanban cards a really important feature. To set due dates, click the button in the "Details" section of the card and select the date when the task should be completed.

  8. Marking or color coding Labels (sometimes called "tags" depending on the application) add another layer of organization to cards in a Kanban list or board. A label can be a handy solution if a card is of a particular type or category that doesn't match its position in the list.

  9. Calendar view In addition to the Kanban board view, many Kanban applications also allow you to access a calendar view (although this feature is often not available in free versions of the application).

  10. Integrations and bonuses For a digital Kanban board to help a team work, it must be integrated with the tools already in use. More and more Kanban applications have started to offer deep integrations to solve their respective tasks. For example, Workstreams offers deep integration with Slack and Microsoft Teams; Kanbanchi is a Kanban application explicitly designed to integrate with Google Workspace; Microsoft Planner is Kanban built into Microsoft 365.

  11. Workflow automation Most Kanban applications have an automatic workflow setup feature that performs repetitive tasks whenever a trigger action is performed.

Thus, Kanban project management is a streamlined and efficient way to complete simple or medium-sized projects. It breaks down medium-sized projects into smaller pieces and provides transparency to the flow and contributions of all project team members.

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