Kanban boards are typical tools for implementing the Kanban method. They can be physical (whiteboard with stick notes) or electronic (online Kanban-oriented project management tool).
The main idea of any Kanban board is to visualize the path of tasks from request to their completion.
Kanban board in details
A Kanban board is originally split into columns and swimlanes. Every column represents a stage of the workflow. Swimlanes help to separate different types of activities.
When a get a new task in your workflow, it is placed on a Kanban card. This card should go through each column of the board.
Usually, every Kanban board is split into 3 sections that show the state of your tasks:
To Do (Requested)
You are free to create as many subsections as you need to visualize your workflow with maximum precision.
How to use Kanban boards?
Visualize workflow avoiding weak points
Kanban boards look perfect for visualizing potential processes problems.
When you see a column, where tasks come faster than they leave, work will pile up and the problem will become visible to the entire team. It will allow to temporary recognize possible bottlenecks or challenges.
Visualize your workflow as precisely as possible to get a clear picture of where the problem lies.
If you notice a problematic column or find a bottleneck, act quickly to solve it and prevent it from occurring again.
The first solution may be connected with limiting the work in progress earlier in the flow. The WIP limits feature in Kanban platforms is right for this purpose. It will let you provide more time to the people who are responsible for this stage and allow them to resolve the bottleneck.
The next step could be re-distributing the efforts of your team to meet the new requirements, as Kanban offers maximum flexibility.
Limit Work in Progress
Kanban boards assist teams to avoid multitasking by applying WIP limits in accordance with your capacity. It's possible to put individual limits on each stage of your workflow or apply limits on the total number of tasks that can be in progress.
When every person is focused on as few tasks as possible, it will increase the rate you deliver value to your customers for sure.
Cut down unnecessary meetings
Kanban dashboards save your time wasted on extra meetings, progress reports, and other unnecessary interruptions.
The board is like a dedicated information repository that keeps and spreads knowledge about who is doing what at any time.
You do not need to schedule meetings so often to receive progress updates because the dashboard will keep you in the loop about how your team members' assignments are progressing.
Define work blockers
With the help of Kanban boards you can define visualize problems that prevent your team from task completing.
Usually, blockers are indicated with red magnets on a physical whiteboard. Online Kanban solutions propose another ways to visualize blockers - you can label them as blocked and start working on another assignment without breaking any WIP limits.
Collect key metrics and improve
Many online Kanban boards are able to gather information about the cycle time of your tasks, lead time and other KPIs automatically.
It looks helpful, as you save your time and can easily make data-driven decisions about any changes to your process.
Visualizing all work in one place with the help of Kanban boards will help the whole team to be on the same track at any time.
As one of the key components of Kanban approach, the Kanban board helps to map and visualize your workflow, define bottlenecks and workflow weaknesses, focus on the work and eliminate the need for unnecessary meetings.
Dive deeply into more Kanban methodology terms: