Kanban provides great benefits to software development by helping teams visualize and continuously improve their workflow. Implementing a successful Kanban system will increase productivity, because it allows teams to quickly identify impediments in the process and build in efficiencies that will greatly improve the teams output and collaboration. Kanban uses a pull-system that allows for work to get pulled in only when there is the capacity, so you can balance the workload, which minimizes overburdening teams and creating development waste.

Many companies need to be agile in order to meet their customers needs. Kanban provides the flexibility to re-assess priorities and shift based on the business’s needs. Kanban can also help teams maintain security and regulatory compliance by building into the process the proper handoffs and communication needed to be complaint.

Here are 5 tips to successfully implementing Kanban:

Proper Training

Before you begin implementing Kanban, you’ll want to make sure that you have a good understanding of the key elements and principles of Kanban. A good start would be to read David J. Anderson’s book “Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business” (the “Blue Book”). This book goes in-depth and provides a lot of great information to get started. If you can send one or two people to a KMP (Kanban Management Professional) training, it will give your team a huge advantage in setting up your Kanban using best practices. Kanban University provides a list of providers offering certified Kanban training. Another fun way to get some Kanban experience that the whole team can get involved in, is the Kanban game that can be purchased online, https://getkanban.com. The game gives the team the opportunity to experience the concept of Kanban

Get buy in from leadership and management teams

In order to successfully deliver great product, it’s important for the team to work on initiatives that are most valuable and critical to the business. This is done by having a current backlog that is reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis. It will require managers and stakeholders to be engaged to prioritize and sometimes negotiate upcoming work. Helping them understand the benefits Kanban and getting them involved on a regular basis will help stakeholders understand the team’s capacity and pivot to new initiatives when they need to.

Get the team involved early on

The only ones that know what it takes to get work done is the team doing the work. Getting all the key players involved early will help your Kanban board and policies reflect how your work moved from start to finish. You shouldn’t worry about nailing down a perfect process to start. The focus should be around getting your board to reflect your current process and defining “done” for the different stages and hand-offs for your policies. Improving the process will come with time in small incremental changes as impediments are identified. Getting the team involved early on will give the team ownership and control over how they want to work.

Create feedback loops

When implanting Kanban, you want to ensure that you are building in time with your team and stakeholders to receive feedback on what’s working or not working. It’s helpful to keep track of issues that come up during development so that the team can work together to incorporate changes that will avoid these issues in the future. Sometimes these solutions require a policy change or a new step in the process. Having feedback sessions with your customers and stakeholders after a release ensures that any product changes needed can be incorporated into the backlog to be improved.

Monitor your WIP

Setting your WIP (work-in-progress) depends on the size and maturity of your team. If you set your WIP too low, you can run the risk of having idle team members with nothing to do, and if your WIP is too high, it can slow down productivity due to work aging as the team works through several impediments. You want the WIP low enough that the team can identify and work through their obstacles, but still have one or two tasks to work on. You can expect Kanban to expose your challenges so it’s important to understand that this could slow work down, but if you can find solutions to improve these challenges, you will see improvement and speed in your workflow. Establishing WIP that allows each resource to only work on one or two items is a good starting point. As the team matures and workflow improves with work queuing up and being pulled at a steady pace, you can then consider increasing the WIP to increase productivity.

Many companies need to be agile in order to meet their customers needs. Kanban provides the flexibility to re-assess priorities and shift based on the business’s needs. Kanban can also help teams maintain security and regulatory compliance by building into the process the proper handoffs and communication needed to be complaint.

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Andy leads our technology efforts including delivery, security and business continuity. Andy brings large company and startup experience to Paymerang, having worked with Capital One, Anthem, Cardlytics, Snag and Impact Makers. He has been a thought leader and entrepreneur in Application Development, IT delivery best practices, and DevSecOps. He has led high-performing teams who have created amazing products in FinTech, healthcare, pharma, paper manufacturing, power, nuclear, state government, and chemical process manufacturing for his employers and clients.