Process Improvement, Project Management

Strengthen the Weakest Link: Theory of Constraints

In the same way that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the throughput of a multi-stage process is limited by the slowest step. The Theory of Constraints states that in order to improve any system, this weakest link or constraint must be improved or eliminated, and the next priority becomes finding and eliminating the next-weakest link. The Theory of Constraints has been applied in many countries, many types of company and many industries leading to rapid…

From supermarkets to software: History of Kanban
Process Improvement, Project Management

From supermarkets to software: History of Kanban

Who could have guessed that supermarket restocking techniques could affect project management several decades into the future? New stock was ordered as previous inventory ran out, instead of regularly timed shipments from a supplier. Applying “Just-in-time” inventory system to the factory floor increased production levels, improved efficiency and removed waste. Kanban – meaning visual signal in Japanese – cards were used to clearly communicate when actions are required. From Kanban’s history in manufacturing, Kanban has spread worldwide and is used across…

Kanban CFD Patterns
Process Improvement, Project Management

Reading the Signs: Kanban CFD Patterns

To improve workflows, first you should understand how to identify problem areas. The Kanban method uses visual methods for evaluating your processes. The Kanban cumulative flow diagram is a particularly powerful tool. The CFD records the number of tasks in each process state at regular intervals, generally daily or weekly. As work progresses and the amount of data grows, the CFD plots a visual history of the project. At a glance, you can track lead times, work in progress and…

Kanban best practices
Process Improvement, Project Management

Observe, Manage, Evolve: Kanban Practices

The Kanban Method has exploded in popularity, largely because of its simplicity. Kanban is used to improve team productivity and flow efficiency. It is designed to be flexible to the needs of your projects. There are six Kanban practices that are essential to successful implementation. Visualize Workflow The first Kanban practice is visualization, going back to its origins on the factory floor. The English translation of Kanban is “signboard” or “billboard” – at first, this was a visual signal in the form…

Kanban workflow
Process Improvement, Project Management

Improving Processes: Kanban Workflow

The Kanban Method focuses on making iterative, incremental changes to work processes to increase efficiency and productivity. How can you translate your project processes into Kanban workflows and make them more efficient? What is a Kanban Workflow? A Kanban workflow is made up of the step-by-step process states between starting and delivering a task. The simplest workflow could have just three process states – To Do, Doing and Done. Tasks move sequentially from the first state to the last. In reality,…

Little’s Law and Kanban
Process Improvement, Project Management

Stable Systems: Little’s Law and Kanban

When discussing Agile methodology and Kanban, one equation makes frequent appearances: Little’s Law. But what does this formula have to do with project management? While originating from queuing theory, Little’s Law has been found to apply to all kinds of different systems – from retail to design to development. In Kanban, Little’s Law links the three basic metrics – throughput, cycle time and work in progress – in one simple formula. Understanding how these Kanban metrics are connected allows you…

Kanban swimlanes
Process Improvement, Project Management

Improve Task Organisation: Kanban Swimlanes

Teams turn to the Kanban method to streamline workflows and improve process efficiency. With large teams and complex projects, however, a common issue occurs – the Kanban board becomes cluttered and hard to read. Kanban swimlanes are used to tame this visual clutter and improve task organisation. What are Kanban swimlanes? In large projects, different team members often need to focus on different work items. Your developers and your customer service aren’t going to have any overlap, and your team…

Kanban meetings
Process Improvement, Project Management

The Rhythm of Success: Kanban Meetings

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. In the same way that the Kanban method uses analysis and feedback loops to improve workflow efficiency, Kanban meetings aim to improve the efficiency of the whole organisation. From quick daily check-ins within a team to big-picture strategy reviews with senior executives, Kanban meetings keep interconnected Kanban systems operating efficiently, identify problem areas and assess overall customer satisfaction. David J Anderson, a key figure in modern Kanban history, identifies 7 essential Kanban meetings…

Kanban classes of service
Process Improvement, Project Management

Prioritising Work Efficiently: Kanban Classes of Service

Many project managers appreciate the efficiency and productivity benefits of Kanban, but don’t know how best to prioritise tasks. How do you deal with an emergency? How are deadlines and milestones taken into account? When are maintenance tasks carried out? That’s where Kanban Classes of Service come in. Classes of Service allow you to set up parallel streams within your workflow for different types of task – keeping your projects on track without disturbing the standard flow and speeding up…

Kanban team
Project Management, Team Performance

Productive Project Management: Kanban Team

A smooth, efficient workflow is essential to a successful project. The Kanban Method has exploded in popularity as a way to optimise processes in all kinds of teams, especially in Agile software development. But what is Kanban and what makes a Kanban team? What is Kanban? Kanban – sometimes translated as “signboard”, “billboard” or “visual signal” – is a workflow management method with a long history. Invented in the 1940s as a way to improve manufacturing productivity, it has since…