What is the kanban agile methodology? How can you use it?

Kanban came about in Japan in the 1960s, implemented by Toyota to tighten control of its stock.

The goal was to allow just-in-time production success. I.e. an item was only available for use in the production process exactly at the time there was a need for it.

For this purpose, employees used cards on boards that signaled to other team members when it was necessary to produce the item needed in the production line.

Check out 3 Kanban board examples created by experts in the field

Agile methodologies, in turn, were born from the agile manifesto, created at the beginning of this century and aimed at dictating guidelines for the development of software in a way that would meet the needs of customers through a constant evolution of its attributes and functionalities, always tested before being implemented.

Today, many areas of business use the agile methodology, from product development to marketing.

In this post, you can learn more about a very specific way to use the agile methodology: Agile Scrum Development: Everyday User’s Secrets

To understand what the kanban agile methodology is, keep in mind that it unites the best characteristics of these two concepts. This is what we are going to talk about in this post.

What is the kanban agile methodology? Understand it definitively

The kanban agile methodology continues to employ some of the concepts that originally inspired it, when idealized on Toyota’s production lines.

Thus, the flow of your process tasks – whether for the development of software, the creation of a marketing campaign, or any other project – must be continuous and uninterrupted, without delays or waiting times.

You should avoid all resource losses, which relates to the agile method idea of making small advances in your project, testing them, and only going forward if you can confirm everything.

This avoids large losses that would occur if you had to change everything after making huge advances and investments in the project.

In addition, you only begin one task after you’ve completed the previous one, but never have any idle. So in this analogy, instead of the parts and items that follow the “production belt”, in the kanban agile methodology, the tasks that pass from person to person are always at the right moment.

Finally, one of the concepts that has always been in use and which remains to this day in the kanban agile methodology is process visual control, usually by means of boards, which we will see later.

To avoid misunderstandings about these and other related nomenclatures, you can consult this text: Lean Kanban Board: How does it differ from other agile methods?

The 4 principles of the kanban agile methodology

When creating your kanban agile process flow boards, keep these 4 principles in mind:

  1. Communication should be agile and intuitive, through visual signals that are easy to comprehend.
  2. Tasks should always be flowing. However, there is a limit to the number of tasks that can be in progress. Beyond which it’s impossible for work to have quality.
  3. Periodically control the task flow through KPIs and tests to predict future problems.
  4. It seeks to achieve not only continuous process improvement, but to add value to each stage of the project in development. Then deliver a final result totally in tune with client needs.

Inspired by these principles, kanban (and scrum) develop boards to monitor agile processes.

Let’s get a better understanding of these boards in the next topic.

Kanban agile methodology boards

These boards don’t have a fixed template, and can vary from project to project. After all, developing software and creating a marketing campaign encompass tasks that can be quite different.

The initial boards concept created according to the kanban agile methodology relies on 3 columns. You allocate tasks and, as people perform them, they pass them on to the next column.

Thus, the first column is TO DO, the second IN PROGRESS and the third DONE.

As each team member begins a TO DO column task from the board, they transfer it to IN PROGRESS. This allows everyone to know what’s being done, what has already ended (because it was placed in the DONE column) and what still needs to be resolved.

Later, these boards started to gain new columns. One of the most used configurations in software development, for example, relies on 6 of them:

  1. DO
  2. PLAN
  4. TEST
  6. DONE.

Thus, through the agile kanban methodology, it’s possible to develop projects and lead teams in a very visual and integrated way. This achieves faster and more assertive results.

Want to dig deeper into this? Then read one more post from our blog: Agile Scrum and Kanban: Don’t get them confused any longer!

Designing agile processes can be even easier with the use of a process modeling tool.

Try HEFLO, free process modeling software and cloud-based services that have an intuitive and agile interface, as every process should.

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