Kanban is a method/framework implementing agile process in software development. Kanban comes from TPS (Toyota Production System) and Lean. David Anderson was one of the first to take the Kanban method to IT and software development.

Kanban for software development focus on JIT “just in time” and maximize the capacity of bottlenecks in the value flow. By limiting work in progress “WIP” Kanban as a method can manage the flow through the value stream and exploit bottlenecks in the process. Kanban helps with continues improvement and should be seen more as a change management method then a specific team working method.

Kanban can be used as a team process or a process for the whole organization. When you start with Kanban start by visualizing what you already know. Put Kanban over existing process to monitor and measure efficiency, find flaws and bottlenecks. This means that Kanban doesn’t have a recipe for how the team should work with different meetings, planning and roles like other methods does. Kanban helps to manage flow, work in progress, team work, lead time and visualize

But it has a couple of principles and techniques that are good to follow.

Three core principles of Kanban for software development

Visualize the workflow
One great benefit with Kanban it is ability to visualize the workflow and how work are moving along the process. When implementing Kanban it becomes easier to see where there are problems and where in the process queues are created. When obstacles are visualized there is easier to decide where to make changes.

• Limit work in progress ”WIP”
Another important principle of Kanban is the technique of controlling flow and implementing a “pull-system” by managing work in progress “WIP”. Control is done by deciding how much work are allowed in every step of the process and not start on new work tasks before there are free resources down the line. Often there are overflowed systems, too long queues, unbalanced workload and silos between different work steps. When controlling the ongoing work you can start to get more out of the system.

• Manage flow
When you have bought “Visualize the workflow” and ”WIP” in place you can start to managing the workflow through the system. When you know how work is flowing through the system you know where you should change for the better. When you find something you want to change you implement it and repeat the process to see if change are giving any positive effects in the workflow.

There are more to learn about Kanban so please read this following articles.

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Thanks to Jimmy Janlén for letting me use his pictures from Agile Topics Cards.

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