How Kanban Can Benefit Your Business

Kanban is a project management system that’s designed to help businesses better manage their workloads. Systems can be introduced to assist companies in staying more organized but without the more restrictive rules applied within Agile-based frameworks.

Here are 6 ways that Kanban can benefit your business.

1.      Clarity on Work Progress

Tasks are placed on cards that are positioned in a state. Each state such as “Requested,” or “In-progress” confirms the current status of that particular task. Details like who is working on it and what dependencies there are to complete the task are also clearer too.

By using the Kanban system, managers get a snapshot of the totality of the work that’s currently outstanding within a given team. They can see when they’re already running at full capacity and won’t be able to take on another assignment for a few days at least. This helps with forwarding planning on projects and personnel hiring too.

2.      Transparency

One of the difficulties with To-Do lists for individuals is that they don’t always have transparency to other members of the team, their managers, or other departments either.

Using a Kanban approach, that’s no longer an issue because anyone who uses the system can see the tasks as cards on the various boards. Managers don’t have to email to ask, “What are you working on” because it’s already known.

3.      WIP Limits and No Sprints Prevent Burnout

Setting Work in Progress (WIP) restrictions prevents either managers or front-line staff from assigning too many tasks to a particular stage. This actively avoids trying to multi-task by juggling several projects or individual tasks towards the completion of a larger project.

Multi-tasking is Usually a Failure Exercise

Multi-tasking tends not to produce effective results compared to single-tasking. Therefore, it’s necessary to have people assigned to only a few tasks that will be worked on periodically one-by-one to move them forward or to individually complete one task at a time.

Repeated Sprints Can Lead to Burnout

While sprints – something borrowed from Scrum – do have their place, repeated ones with insufficient recovery time will lead to burnout. Also, a failure to complete the tasks within the sprint (even when some progress is made) creates a demoralized team. It’s often better to work on tasks singularly through to their success for individual wins.

When using Kanban for a business, a sustainable system is preferred over one that can create burnout. This is something that’s relevant for long-term planning and avoids switching to the latest project planning fad, creating unnecessary disruption.

4.      Quality over Quantity

With Kanban, the idea is to complete tasks properly and well. Trying to divide time among too many current tasks often leads to a decline in performance and/or errors creeping into the work.

When not juggling nor racing, managers and their teams can produce good work instead of a race to reduce an excessive amount of current outstanding tasks.

For business managers, fewer mistakes in execution, higher quality results, and staff that believe in what they’re doing have many positive benefits. These include fewer do-overs, not needing to compensate disgruntled customers for mistakes, and a higher staff retention rate.

5.      Estimated Work Time Isn’t Strictly Required

Estimates are often inaccurate – sometimes alarmingly so. This is most evident when different departments devise their own estimates creating confusion when trying to bring it all together.

By having near-term clarity about the work to be done, companies can adapt more quickly and not rely on estimates. Let’s face it – estimates are invariably so inaccurate that they’re unhelpful. Worse still, the farther out the estimates go, the more inaccurate they become, especially when faulty assumptions are made too.

Estimates can be used but they’re often avoided in favor of getting good work done efficiently. Acceptance that new projects and tasks will continually be added but that the proper flow is there to move them through the system means that’s estimates are less useful than they’re perceived to be.

6.      Add New Projects or Tasks Whenever Needed

Unlike with other methodologies like Scrum, you’re not prevented from adding new projects or tasks to a Kanban board. This differs from Scrum users where a sprint of work is ongoing, and thus prevents any new additions, which could extend the sprint further.

Furthermore, managers are free to reprioritize the outstanding projects and tasks based on shifting company priorities without majorly disrupting the workflow. This provides control and structure, but also the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, something highly relevant this year.

For business owners and managers looking for an improved way to manage projects, tasks, and workflow, Kanban has much to recommend it. The complete picture approach coupled with a real-time perspective is most welcome.

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