Glossary

Kanban

Kanban is a workflow management method for scheduling tasks and projects in a lean manufacturing facility. Kanban is a Japanese word that stands for “visual board.” With this method, all operators and their managers can visualize the tasks at hand, including their progress and the team responsible for each job.

Kanban originated from manufacturing but is now used by several other industries, including software development, logistics, and more. The first step when using the Kanban strategy to manage tasks is preparing a Kanban board. 

What is a Kanban board? 

A Kanban board is a physical or digital tool used to visualize work to minimize work-in-progress and maximize efficiency. Most of the popular project management platforms, including Monday.com and ClickUp, have some form of Kanban board that can be used to manage and schedule the different tasks in any given project. 

Key components of the Kanban board

Kanban cards

A Kanban card is a visual representation of a task. It contains all the details about the job, including its deadline, progress made, the team handling it, and more. A typical Kanban board will have several Kanban cards, which are usually in several colors that may vary depending on the status of the task.

Kanban columns

Every column on the Kanban board represents the status of the task. So, the different Kanban cards must go through all the columns before the task is marked as complete.  A typical Kanban board usually has three columns that include requested tasks, in progress, and done.  

Work-in-Progress limits 

These limits restrict the maximum number of tasks that can be added to the different stages of the workflow. This allows teams to focus on a given number of tasks before they take on new ones.

Kanban Swimlanes

These are horizontal lines on the Kanban board that are used to separate the different categories of tasks. Swimlanes can also be used to separate tasks that are being handled by the different departments.  

Commitment point

This is the point at which a given task is ready to be put into the system. 

Delivery Point 

This is a point in the workflow where a given task is considered finished. 

Benefits of using Kanban

Visualizing the workflow on the Kanban board

The Kanban board allows everyone to view all the tasks being handled in the company or team. This board also makes it easier for members of the company or department to know the progress of the different tasks and the teams responsible for them. 

Easily spot bottlenecks in the workflow.

With the Kanban board, it is easy to see the stage where tasks spend the most time. The responsible stakeholders can use this information to find ways to eliminate the bottlenecks or minimize their impact. 

The Kanban board can be used to limit work in progress

Having many tasks in progress can at times affect the quality of work. With the Kanban board, it is much easier to set the maximum number of tasks that can be added to the work-in-progress column. 

It enhances collaboration

With the Kanban board, different teams can see what everyone else is working on. This makes communication much easier when different teams are working on a given task.

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