Level up Your Team Workflows with These Kanban Best Practices

Level up Your Team Workflows with These Kanban Best Practices

Kanban board is a popular tool in Agile project management used for visualizing workflow and tracking the work in progress. It is designed to give team members a clear overview of their tasks, help prioritize project work, and improve collaboratively. Not all Kanban boards are equal but there’s a set of Kanban best practices that can help you get the most out of this method.

If the successful Kanban implementations seem daunting to you, there’s no need to panic! Whiteboards.io can help you add Kanban practices to your day-to-day processes with ease. Open a Whiteboards account today for a 30-day free trial and test out the possibilities it offers.

What is the Kanban method?

The origins of the Kanban board go all the way back to the 1950s when Taiichi Ohno noticed how important it was to supervise the work of his employees, and in particular, what stage they were at.

The Kanban method functioned as a planning system that helped him control and manage work at every car production stage. His Kanban system was based on a sizable board on which he manually attached post-its, which he then moved to the appropriate column to represent different stages of work.

Since then, the Kanban method has undergone an evolutionary change and become entirely automated. More and more tools available on the market offer Kanban software or Kanban methodology to project teams or Agile teams. And while they can help limit work in progress or ensure a continuous flow for delivering urgent tasks, you actually need just one tool that can assist you to maximize efficiency and streamline your current processes. Read on to find out how Whiteboards.io can help you achieve that.

What are Kanban practices?

Kanban practices are a set of Kanban guidelines and Kanban principles that teams should follow to manage their work in a more efficient way. Kanban board is a visual system consisting of Kanban cards, boards, columns, and many other features that help team members track their work in progress (WIP) more transparently and collaboratively. The goal of Kanban boards is to improve productivity, manage flow, and deliver value to customers.

Teams follow Kanban principles as they’re extremely flexible, adaptable, and easy to understand. They help eliminate bottlenecks and practice so-called lean manufacturing, namely minimizing waste and eradicating unnecessary operations.

Six core practices of the Kanban system

If you are a project manager, the Kanban board can help you manage your project team, their individual tasks, and work delivery. Below, you’ll find the six practices that are worth incorporating.

  • Visualize workflow

It is common knowledge that the visual nature of work systems can help you understand quicker the status of your tasks. Such working practices representation can help your team members identify bottlenecks and optimize the work process.

  • Limit work-in-progress (WIP limits)

One of the practices that Kanban recognizes is how many tasks one team member can have on their plate at a given moment. Because each team member can work with the pull system, meaning decide for themselves what to work on next, it’s easy to take on too many responsibilities at once. Setting limits to your current process can help your team focus on completing tasks before starting new ones. This scientific method reduces multitasking and helps to improve the workflow.

  • Manage flow

Kanban boards aim to improve the flow as you work through the different stages of the system. When measuring and analyzing the established practices, team members can identify areas that need improvement and implement appropriate changes for better flow.

  • Make process policies explicit

It’s essential to define the process policies as soon as possible so that all team members know exactly how they should do the work. Such profound knowledge helps to avoid confusion, ensures that the company’s legacy processes are respected, and no major business risks occur. In the end, just one incremental change is introduced at a time and the work is done consistently.

  • Implement feedback loops

Feedback loops allow team members to measure outcomes, learn from their experiences, and pursue incremental changes to the existing processes. By measuring and analyzing the overall performance and cycle time of all tasks, the team can request changes to the Kanban methodology, request modifications to strict schedules, and run more effective Sprint planning sessions before actually taking up the work.

  • Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally

Kanban project management is an iterative process that requires continuous improvement. Even if it seems that the decision process has been set in stone for ages and the senior management is (will be) always right, it’s worth listening to the entire project team to know if any issues need to be addressed. Open communication and collaboration among team members may not ensure that an evolutionary change will happen overnight, but it will definitely foster a sense of accountability and ownership.

Kanban workflow benefits

  • Increased efficiency

Kanban practice promotes a continuous delivery of tasks while focusing on completing one work item at a time. It reduces the time one would spend switching between contexts.

  • Greater flexibility

Teams find it easier to adapt to changes in the work environment as Kanban principles allow shifts to be made to the processes as needed. This leads to fewer business risks being encountered and gives a greater possibility for additional cost savings in case of failures or hiccups.

  • Improved communication

Team members can gain support from fellow workers and stay aligned and work collaboratively toward common goals. Kanban boards and Kanban principles highlight transparency.

  • Higher quality output

WIP limits allow team members to fully devote themselves to one task at a time, leading to higher-quality outputs.

Kanban Board template on Whiteboards

Whiteboards.io offer you a dedicated Kanban Board template that you can use to manage your work and stay up-to-date with the team’s progress. Make the most of it during your next project management session or status update meeting.

  1. Open the Kanban Board template on a new digital board or add it to an already existing one.
Adding the Kanban Board template to the whiteboard.

2. Enable the audio and video chat to discuss the work in progress with your teammates.

Joining the audio and video chat on the board.

3. Start adding sticky notes to appropriate columns: Backlog, To Do, In Progress, or Done. Alternatively, add the import zone to your board to bring your Jira issues to the digital canvas. Then, add updates zones to appropriate columns on the Kanban board, set filters, and see how Jira issues automatically update.

Working on the Kanban Board template

4. Move work items across columns to indicate their status. Get back to your Kanban board during any meeting or workshop to stay on the same page with your teammates.

Key takeaways

Kanban board is a visual project management system that allows teams to boost their productivity and efficiency by focusing on continuous improvement and setting limits to tasks they’re working on at a given moment. One of the key practices that Kanban recognizes is a clear understanding of the current process to gradually introduce changes to the workflow. This evolutionary process recognizes that the cycle time (how long tasks take to be done) is extremely crucial for a successful delivery.

Another important factor is that Kanban boards pursue incremental changes so that the pull system of individual tasks is much more efficient. When reviewing your processes regularly, you give yourself space for making needed adjustments based on team feedback and data. As a team leader, you can encourage acts of better collaboration and communication among team members so they have more transparency about their colleagues’ work.

By following the above-mentioned Kanban principles and best practices, you can leverage the power of Kanban boards to drive better productivity, efficiency, and overall quality. To help you achieve that, consider testing our Kanban Board template by creating your Whiteboards.io account today.

And if you’d like to learn more about Kanban boards or Kanban principles, check our recent article about this very topic here.