Kanban Software Development: A Comprehensive Guide for Every Developer
Before one embraces the Kanban development method, it helps to know its history, principles, goals, and implementation.
At the end of this guide, you’ll understand how using Kanban in software development can skyrocket your software product development.
What does Kanban mean?
Kanban is an agile system that your teams can use to manage and track work as it travels throughout a workflow.
Did you know that Kanban is a Japanese word that means “card you can see”?
History of the Kanban system
In the 1940s, Toyota car manufacturer introduced Kanban lean manufacturing. The Toyota team got inspiration from supermarkets utilizing lean methods, where grocers only purchased more of a product when it was close to selling out. The team then tailored the idea for their automobile production.
With this method, the Toyota production system could achieve higher quality as it allowed them to match the inventory with demand. The company almost topped the whole American automotive industry to be the number one car manufacturer, prompting the competitors to adopt the same system.
Software development teams have also jumped on the bandwagon to help them focus on customer value and complete more work in less time. Kanban boards and cards have contributed immensely to this success since everyone can visualize the otherwise abstract and invisible work tasks.
How does Kanban method work?
Kanban teams use the Kanban board as a central tool, whether virtually in software or physically on a wall. The fundamental purpose of the board is to understand how the work items flow within the development team.
Apart from visualizing workflow steps, the board helps teams identify where tasks aggregate and create bottlenecks.
On Kanban board, developers place separate Kanban cards, whose purpose is to visualize the amount of work and workflows. The cards facilitate tracking a task as it travels throughout the workflow (instead of left to right, it’s visualized from right to left).
The project management information on each Kanban card includes:
What are the main principles of Kanban?
Kanban methodology has four basic principles: visualization, limit, optimize, and improve. If you’re looking to work on a project, yet your team members are in different geographical regions, Kanban methodology makes the workflow visualization a breeze.
What are some of the goals of Kanban for software development?
Start achieving more and putting smiles on your clients’ faces by embracing Kanban agile board and other aspects. Here are some advantages that you can enjoy:
Work in progress limits ensures teams focus on completing a task without taking much time. It also allows them to spot and get to bottlenecks and backups easily, thanks to the visual nature of Kanban.
For instance, you may start by saying that the work items in the code review stage of the board should not exceed one or two. We all know how unappealing it is to review other people’s codes. Thus, a smaller limit will improve the focus of your development team on this task.
Shortened Cycle Times
Your project teams will find cycle time to be a very crucial metric in the Kanban system. We can define a cycle time as the time it takes one unit work to move through the workflow.
The benefits that come with shorter time cycles are immense, but be sure to optimize them so that your deliver forecasts become more accurate.
The product owner can review and prioritize user stories to ensure the team deals with the most important work item on the board first. Teams get a chance to focus on the tasks at hand as they work to reduce WIP.
Prioritization is more straightforward because as capacity opens up, the system pulls tasks from the backlog.
Provide Visual Metrics
While the Kanban board is a crucial aspect that lends itself to visual management, the framework has more to offer. It helps project teams get more essential insights by tracking a few data points using control charts and a cumulative flow diagram.
Continuous flow involves releasing work to clients as often as possible—daily or even hourly. The Kanban system supports continuous delivery because it originates from the Just-In-Time system. If you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage over other developers, embrace Kanban and start taking your product to the market as quickly as possible.
Tips on applying Kanban in your Software Development
Is your organization looking to introduce the Kanban framework to your software development teams? Follow these top tips and steps for a smooth transitioning:
» Discuss the reasons for introducing Kanban
Start by ensuring every member is on the same page about this system and understands what you’re expecting from it.
If you’re going to use Kanban on top of an existing software development framework, let them know. Explain what this system will bring to the process.
Are you going to apply the Kanban framework on its own to manage more repeatable development tasks? Make it clear to everyone.
» Divide the software development process
For easy tracking of work, split your development process into various sections. First, identify the scope of the workflow that you want Kanban to manage.
If the typical development tasks are relatively simple, you can split them into “to do,” “doing,” and “done.”
For more complex tasks, you can have specific steps for development, testing, and deployment categories.
Additionally, Kanban allows you to create horizontal swim lanes that cluster workflow tasks using the types of services and other criteria.
» Create the Kanban board and define rules
Design an agile Kanban board using the newly divided development workflow. Then discuss with the stakeholders and team members how to set WIP limits. Also, agree on policies governing priority and release mechanisms.
Remember to train your team on how they can work with the Kanban board, card, charts, and other aspects. Then make it a habit to assemble the group in front of the board every day to discuss and update WIP.
» Identify the bottlenecks
Wherever there are systematic bottlenecks, the Kanban board will reveal them. Just be sure you’re inspecting it regularly and carefully. Identify areas where there is a pile-up of work.
» Optimize the work process
You can easily optimize the workflow and limit work in progress (WIP) by adding resources or removing constraints and bottlenecks.
You can allocate resources to each category based on the demand and the risk profile of whether you can tolerate the delays. The Kanban method also allows you to focus more on the finishing, middle, or anywhere else.
Train your software development teams to practice lean development. Members will appreciate the importance of managing waste to have robust process outcomes.
» Map the value creation network
The value creation network is an interconnection of information, knowledge, and creativity whose focus is the creation of value.
Software developers face significant difficulties in mapping this network. However, even though they can only visualize it roughly, an essential representation showing queue times and handoffs can enhance optimization.
You can quickly identify redundancies and bottlenecks from this visual representation. Remember that different types of items will most probably have various value creation networks.
How is Kanban different from Scrum?
Are you undecided on an agile framework that will suit your team and project management? Here are some key aspects that will help you choose between the two, Kanban and Scrum.
Kanban Software Development is an agile method for every team looking to complete their projects seamlessly in less time. Its visualization aspects, Kanban boards and cards allow you to eliminate bottlenecks, shorten your cycle times, plan your tasks smoothly, and continuously deliver the works.
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