While Kanban is often associated with software development and IT projects, more and more people are realizing how implementing a Kanban system can have a positive effect on workflow, operation costs, quality control, and customer satisfaction. But for many, going Kanban might either seem intimidating, or they might not see the benefits of implementing it as part of their day to day operations. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits of Kanban, and why you should consider implementing a Kanban system today.
What is Kanban Actually?
Before we touch on the many benefits of a Kanban system, let’s take a look at what Kanban is exactly and what it can do for your business. Toyota first introduced Kanban as part of their Toyota Production System back in the late 1940s. Their production system then led the way to lean manufacturing, whose main purpose was to minimize waste operations in production without sacrificing quality. It is also a more consumer-focused approach, as it uses a pull system to assign tasks based on actual consumer needs and concerns, instead of simply creating a product and releasing it to the market.
Kanban literally translates to “visual signal” or “sign board”. A classic Kanban system such as Kanbanize will consist of a board with a minimum of three columns: Requested, in Progress, and Done. Kanban cards with specific tasks are then pulled through every step until the task is completed.
But note that you don’t have to use a physical Kanban board to implement a Kanban system; there are plenty of software solutions that allow you to create elaborate Kanban boards with multiple columns and detailed digital Kanban cards. They will also have advanced analytical tools that will allow you to quickly identify bottlenecks and work towards continuous improvement.
Now let’s take a look at the many benefits of Kanban project management and why you should consider it in your line of business.
Kanban Allows you to Visualize Workflow
Meeting deadlines and managing resources is a challenge all project managers have to face. And this is especially the case for large organizations or when working on complex, drawn-out projects.
Kanban allows you to simplify your production planning and put it in visual form through a Kanban board, electronic Kanban signals, and Kanban cards. You’ll also be able to use value stream maps to assess your Kanban needs. This allows workers to easily see where the production plan is at all times, very fast, by taking a look at the visual Kanbans.
With Kanban, you’ll be able to manage your tasks more efficiently. You’ll be able to see exactly how tasks are moved through different stages and you won’t have to deal with things like progress reports or memos. This will make it much easier for you to make changes and judge progress. Your workers will have real-time updates on any changes to any tasks or instructions. It also allows project managers to manage multiple teams at once and quickly identify roadblocks or bottlenecks along the way.
In addition, Kanban tools will ensure that everyone on the team is conscious of the project’s status and progress at all times. The status of the tasks will be displayed in real time, whether a new task was just added or recently completed.
Kanban Facilitates Real Teamwork
Kanban and Agile management revolutionized the way task management was performed. Managers used to simply give certain team members or department tasks and then follow up periodically to check on progress. But with Kanban, teams can truly work together in synergy without project managers having to constantly check on every task.
Kanban tools today come packed with a variety of communication tools that allow members to overcome obstacles and share ideas in real time. This not only creates an ‘open door’ environment but it eliminates barriers between different levels of management and teams. And team members will also be encouraged to provide more input as more members start asking questions and updating tasks.
Kanban also facilitates collaboration and allows whole teams to brainstorm, complete tasks, and delegate much more easily and efficiently. This is why Kanban can be a valuable tool for big teams working on large projects who want to share resources, knowledge, and ideas more freely.
Reduces Overproduction Risks
Keeping inventory can be a real challenge in today’s fast-moving marketplace. Trying to keep track of inventory can be almost impossible in this day and age, depending on your sector. Kanban will allow you to focus on customer demand first and foremost and limit the risk of you having to deal with old inventory. If you can manage to only produce what you need and not focus strictly on production planning, you’ll be able to reduce waste and nearly eliminate inventory risk.
Kanban Makes your Workflow more Transparent
Anyone who’s had to manually enter tasks through a spreadsheet will know how easy it is to lose track of a project’s overall progress that way. But Kanban solves that by giving your team a clear visual rundown of the project’s roadmap from beginning to end. You and your team will be able to see which tasks are in the queue, which ones are being worked on, which ones have been completed, and which tasks can’t progress due to certain issues.
You’ll also be able to tell what resources you may have on hand and manage deadlines better by knowing exactly how close you are from attaining specific target goals. In addition, transparency will make keeping stakeholders and executives in the loop throughout the whole project much easier, which in turn will facilitate project meetings and evaluations.
Kanban is a perfect solution for any business that wishes to reduce costs, facilitate workflow, and improve customer satisfaction. If you haven’t considered it already, it would be wise that you look more in detail into the many benefits of lean and Kanban management, and see if you can find a solution for your particular line of business.