Kanban Project Management: Everything You Need to Know

"What is a Kanban board?" and Everything You Need to Know About Kanban Project Management

Project management is a crucial element in ensuring an effective workflow for your business and getting closer to achieving your vision. A project can be viewed as a process; a series of tasks that when completed, lead to a particular result. Kanban is one of the leading project management methodologies that can be used for a variety of business areas. With Kanban, you can manage the flow of said tasks. Kanban enables you to keep track of documents, information about your customers and tasks and make them accessible exactly when you need them.

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All You Need to Know About Kanban Project Management | Hubstaff

The term Kanban originates from Toyota’s “just-in-time” production system. The purpose of using Kanban can be boiled down to:

  1. Eliminating wasteful work
  2. Making incremental improvements to your existing work processes, instead of doing a major overhaul

With Kanban project management, the workflow is fully transparent and efficient. Each team member can see who works on a particular task, what is being worked on, etc. As a result, your developed teams will be focused, and you will never exceed their capacity.

Who is Kanban project management best for?

To assume that the Kanban method is strictly applicable to a particular field would be a grave mistake. Kanban is used by professionals and teams in a variety of areas. For example, we use Trello, the popular Kanban PM software, to organize the work of our marketing department.

Programmers use it to code and measure the progress of their coding. Lawyers use Kanban to keep track of the progress of their cases. Sales people coordinate their sales processes using Kanban. Students do their paper homework assignments. Some people even organize their private lives and chores using Kanban.

Ways to implement Kanban

The cornerstone idea of the Kanban method is to do as much as possible, in as little time as possible. Even though this seems counterintuitive at first glance, it has been proved many times that focusing on the most important thing first improves your productivity.

Limit Work in Process (WIP)

Multitasking is very popular in today’s business world. Most people believe that they’re significantly more productive when they shuffle multiple tasks at the same time. Kanban counteracts this advice and focuses on doing the optimal amount of tasks without losing efficiency in the process. This sometimes means doing only two small tasks at a time, or even just one single task at a time.

Setting a lower amount of WIP tasks than you’re used to can be tough in the beginning, if you prefer shuffling multiple tasks at the same time. If you are at the start of a project, try to guess the number of tasks that will be most suitable for your team.

Make a plan with your employees prior to starting your next project

Have in mind that initially setting a higher limit on tasks, and then lowering it as you see fit, will provide you with a better overview of the qualities and skills of your team. It will also give you insight into what they can handle.

It doesn’t matter if you work on a small or a large project. By applying the Kanban working method, you can focus on just the right amount of work and take a huge step towards achieving your goals.

“What is a Kanban board?” or the visual workflow

Another useful component of the Kanban workflow is the visual representation of the working process. Create a Kanban board, either physically or virtually, in order to visualize your workflow and utilize the method well. Virtual Kanban project management tools like Trello also integrates with Hubstaff for easy time tracking.

The Kanban board lets you peek right into the process of completing tasks that constitute a particular project. This way, you can easily follow the completion level of these tasks, and see whether they are “done,” “in process” or “not done.”

The board can also contain other elements of the project management process (i.e. planning, testing, notes, deadlines, etc). Furthermore, the boards are very useful for team members, as they can view the tasks their colleagues are working on in real time.

The functionality of the boards is especially useful because team members can drag and drop tasks between boards and lists.

Track time to your Kanban tasks

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Measure and improve workflow

As mentioned previously, the Kanban method lets you objectively measure the productivity of the project management process. To introduce positive changes in your workflow, you need to know what needs to be changed.

Apps like Kanbanery will generate measures and metrics that provide a detailed overview of your ongoing projects. With this information, you can tweak your process when you deem necessary to optimize your workflow and maximize productivity.

Visualizing what you’re doing with the help of these methods and apps will allow you to pinpoint flaws in your working approach that impact the productivity of your business. One of the benefits of Kanban is that it allows you to improve your existing processes and make incremental changes.

You can improve the workflow of your team using the Kanban workflow project management tools

The advantage of using this approach is that instead of doing a major overhaul of the way you and your team complete assigned tasks, you first identify holes in your existing work process. Then, you can choose to modify or completely change your workflow, knowing what works best for you and your team.

While reading about Kanban, you will most likely come across the word Kaizen, which means continuous improvement, a phrase that beautifully illustrates what Kanban is all about.

Kanban is about understanding the way work should be done and helping each team member learn what is being done at the moment and what your goals are, as a team. Then, you can all decide what to change in order to positively affect your business.

Do you use Kanban project management tools?

What are your tips for using the Kanban method? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you are ready to get started with Kanban, take a look at some of the most popular project management tools.

Hubstaff integrations
  • My company, http://www.collectnow.com , started using kanban management about a year ago. Best move we could of made (before we were getting bogged down with detailed agile management solutions). We manage all of our IT and marketing activities with Trello. We implemented Scrum for Trello which is a great add-on to add task time estimates.

    • Dann Albright

      I’ve never used Scrum for Trello, but I can see how it would be a great add-on! Kanban is perfect for simplifying . . . but it’s expandable enough that you can use it for big projects. I love it for our editorial calendar.