Using Kanban agile boards for project management
The Agile breakthrough
“Agile” became a common word in today’s software development world, which is more and more dominated by agile based processes. This iterative and incremental approach, the collaboration spirit, with just the right amount of formality, generates a high quality product while taking into account the continuously changing needs of the customer.
Based on its core values, such as: visibility, velocity, adaptability, responsiveness, risk reduction and efficiency, Agile proved to be the appropriate method to deliver high quality products a lot faster and with less resources, compared to traditional development methods.
Kanban – Agile simplicity at its core
In a nutshell, Kanban is the development model of introducing change through incremental improvements. The whole process relies on an agile Kanban board – a board of visual tasks that can easily manage small and medium projects in a collaborative way.
A Kanban card is the counterpart of a task, which contains task’s ID and name, time estimation and assignee of the task. Each task has a status, such as ” To Do “, ” In Progress” or “Completed”, and is shared with the project’s team.
The principles of a Kanban board
An agile Kanban board promotes collaborative work, and reduces physical exchanges within the team. It is based on 3 features.
The key feature of a Kanban board is visualization: a whiteboard of post-its describing tasks. Each post-it (card) is placed in the appropriate column to specify its status. Each column corresponds to a stage of the project, hence providing a simple and understandable overview of the project progress: what is done, what is to be done and who does what.
Kanban started as a physical table, but there are a lot of tools providing virtual or online Kanban (see Planhammer.io’s tool). The main goal of Kanban is to visualize all tasks and their status at a glance.
The limitation of the current work. A serious problem of Agile planning methods are the lists of endless tasks in a project. By limiting the number of tasks in each column, the Kanban task list itself is decomposed in smaller built-in lists.
Continuous improvement. Kanban is an application of Kaizen (fusion Japanese words “kai” and “zen” which means “change” and “good”). It calls for analysis and input from team members to suggest improvements and adjustments all along the project progress for a more efficient and more productive behavior and resource allocation.
The benefits of Agile Kanban boards for project management
Simple configuration. If you want to start working on a project board quickly and with minimal configuration, then Kanban is the right choice. Kanban does not prescribe a predefined setup or procedure, and requires very little configuration and an easy start.
Complete overview from one board, where are displayed all the states of the workflow – the core to get insight into the progress of the work.
Continuous improvement of the project with no rigid specifications and predefined phase durations. The Kanban visualization provides a more flexible approach and easier ongoing changes to maximize productivity and resource reallocation.
Customer expectations are always met. According to the customer feedback, the development team has always the possibility to change the product features and eliminate problems during iteration cycles.
Work-in-progress is limited. There is always a predefined amount of work in progress set up, which allows to reduce multitasking and time wasting and improve measurements and product delivery milestones.
Enhanced productivity. Kanban is tied to the Lean principles of eliminating waste of both time and resources:
– resources (unnecesary developments, wrong deliverables, lack of project specifications)
– time (wasted time during wrong developments and waiting time due to poor organization and communication processes within the team).
Scrum or Kanban?
Nowadays both methods are very popular among development processes, and can be used together within the same project within a Scrum Kanban board.
However if you want a detailed view of the progress of your project, Scrum is a more suitable option. With its detailed sprints, its story points and assortment of reports, it is the most logical choice.
Kanban is more direct, it displays the tasks is a simple and understandable way on a board and applies the right stage to each one.
Scrum can be quite complex to configure because of the time required to plan: story points, sprints, applications that are in backlog and in the current sprint, the completed sprints, and so on. While with the Kanban agile board, you can see everything from the board.
One of the keys of the choice lies in the size of the project. If you work on a small Agile project with a small number of applications, Kanban is the right choice. With a more complex project, a large number of applications and developers, then Scrum offers possibilities for organizing and monitoring the flow in a more detailed way.
Scrum allows to deliver a new version of the project by the end of each sprint, while Kanban always applies the principle of continuous improvement, assuming that nothing is ever frozen and changes must be made on an ongoing basis.
PlanHammer – the right tool to generate an agile Kanban board
Planhammer allows teams and project managers to understand how the development time is being spent.
Our Kanban board software gives the ability to collaborate on a board in real time in order to organize work loads and quickly build viable applications. It’s a complete solution used for ongoing development process, while enhancing the flow and detecting the waste of time, money and resources within the project.
With PlanHammer, long queues and empty space can be avoided, everybody can look at the board whenever he needs to and get a quick and easy to understand overview of what is to be done and who is responsible for what at any moment of the delivery cycle. All the tasks are displayed in the Gantt chart and can be scheduled. This combination of Gantt and agile Kanban easily allows to visualize fixed deadlines and their dependencies. The project managers get full insight into who is responsible for what on the Kanban board, while the Gantt chart enables them to take over all scheduled tasks.
Planhammer provide an overview that:
– eliminates the misunderstandings on the project workflow
– eliminates the waste of paper reports and printed charts
– allows an easy customization of the tables
– allows to set multiple permission levels
– helps to provide a higher degree of accuracy in project estimations
– keeps the project from advancing in the wrong direction
– keeps the project flexible and always responsive to business needs.
Planhammer provides the real satisfaction of visualizing the workflow, while making the “post-it” cards to pass one by one in the “Done” column!