Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer

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This is transcription of the Business901 Podcast with Chris Hefley, President of Bandit Software. Chris offered a perspective from not only a producer of a product for Kanban but as a software …

This is transcription of the Business901 Podcast with Chris Hefley, President of Bandit Software. Chris offered a perspective from not only a producer of a product for Kanban but as a software developer himself. A fresh perspective of not only Kanban but Lean in Software Development, this is not a consultant or an author of a how to book but someone that is in the trenches living it day and day out.

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  • 1. Business901 Podcast Transcription Implementing Lean Marketing SystemsLean Kanban Lessons from a Software DeveloperGuest was Chris Hefley is President and Co-Founder Bandit Software Related Podcast: Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer This is transcription of the Business901 Podcast with Chris Hefley, President of Bandit Software. Chris offered a perspective from not only a producer of a product for Kanban but as a software developer himself. A fresh perspective of not only Kanban but Lean in Software Development, this is not a consultant or an author of a how to book but someone that is in the trenches living it day and day out. Chris’s primary area of expertise is in helping development teams implement processes that enable a lean, continuous flow of work - focusing on the technical practices that enable teams to deliver quickly, avoiding bottlenecks and blockers. Bandit Software, LLC. : Bandit Software was founded in May 2009 by Chris Hefley, Stephen Franklin, and Daniel Norton. We all worked together once upon a time at the Nashville-based healthcare giant, HCA, Inc. We’d remained friend for years, long after leaving to pursue other opportunities, and one day we just decided it was time. Time to strike out on our own and “own the company we want to work for.” So, one night back in May we gathered in Stephen’s basement, and Bandit Software was born. Six months and many sleepless nights later, we are on the verge of launching our first product, LeanKit Kanban. Chris Hefley can be found on Twitter at @indomitablehef Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe Dager: Participating in the program today is Chris Hefley,the president and a cofounder of Bandit Software, a maker ofelectronic Kanban tools for Lean software and systemdevelopment teams called Lean Kit Kanban. Chris has been asoftware developer, architect, and coach and has experience inmanufacturing, consulting, and healthcare. Chris, could you justtell me where you came up then with the name Bandit and whyyou named a company that?Chris Hefley: Thats a good question. We were struggling to finda name, and Bandit is actually the name of the one of thecofounders dogs. Hes a bloodhound dog called Bandit, so thatswhat we came up with.Joe: Now could you tell me how you first got exposed to Leanand a little background about yourself?Chris: Absolutely. When I first got out of college, or actuallyeven in college, I was a co-op student at a TRW plant and myfirst exposure to Lean was actually in manufacturing. They hadset up a line that used work cells and were trying to implementsome Lean methodologies there in the plant. My first severalyears out of college, I worked in various manufacturing plants, inDuPont and Frigidaire and places like that, where there were Leanand Six Sigma efforts going on. A lot of that was peripheral tome.About three or four years ago when software developers startedtalking about Lean as something that would apply to the softwaredevelopment process, the Mary and Tom Poppendieck book aboutLean software development came out. I really started gettinginterested in it then. I was very much into the Agile softwaredevelopment movement before that and started really seeing alot of value in applying Lean principles to software developmentaround that time. Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: The interesting thing to me is Kanban has really come upvery quickly here. There is more of an association with Lean thanmaybe what Agile is, is that correct or not? Or how has thatworked?Chris: Sure, absolutely. I think Kanban as we sort of define it insoftware development is a little different than what it hastraditionally. Its taken on more meaning than it traditionally hadin Lean manufacturing. Its a more complex system with lots ofrules that were sort of defining for ourselves using the basicconcept of a Kanban as it came out of manufacturing. A signalingsystem, a visual signal, or when work is ready to be done orwhen work is available to be done.So I think Kanban as a tool has really taken off, maybe evenmore than Lean in general in software, and I think theres somedispute about how good that is. But I think its a good gatewayinto Lean principles for a lot of software development teams.Kanban gives you a chance to start where youre at and begin tomake evolutionary changes as opposed to revolutionary changesto get to improvements in your software process.Along the way, as you start seeing the result of limiting yourworking process and visualizing the working process, you startbeing introduced to the Lean principles simply just by goingthrough the process.Joe: How is Kanban distinctly different than other Agilemethods?Chris: I think Agile methods are almost entirely based oniterations. There are lots of technical practices that go with it, andthere are several different flavors of Agile. But we generallybasically see one month iterations or two week iterations or oneweek iterations. Its still a schedule based kind of thing, so if youbatch up a batch of work and you try and complete that by the Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsend of the week or the end of the month. Kanban is different inthat we try to use it to get to a continuous flow of work so thatyou eventually can get rid of iterations. Now you can do it incombination with iterations as well. Well talk about that morelater, but the key thing with Kanban is to learn to limit theworking process, to level that out with the actual capacity of thesystem. So the less work you have going on at one time thefaster all of it can flow through the system.So it shies away from the iterations, and it really focuses onlimiting the working process and living within the rules that thatkind of restraint puts on you. Like you say, its an evolutionarything, too, whereas when you come in with Agile theres someupheaval that has to happen in order to get everybody to agreeto do things a certain way.With Kanban you can really start by and you should start reallyby visualizing the work the way you already do work, visualizingthe way things are now and putting that up on the board. Onceyou do that you start to notice things about your process. Youstart to notice things stacking up and bottlenecks appearing andbaulkers.When you start noticing that, its easy to take that as evidenceand say, "Oh, we should change this." And you can start makingthose continuous improvement kinds of changes, little smallincremental changes along the way to get to a better and betterprocess and again starting right from where you are now withouthaving to make a revolutionary upheaval.Joe: Now when you talk about that its different than theiterations, but doesnt the iterations allow you to do betterplanning or be able to do better estimation?Chris: Sure. Im not necessarily here to say anything bad aboutiterations. I think one of the things that Kanban does, theres a Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsguy named Henrik Kniberg who wrote a book called "Kanban andScrum: Making the Most of Both." He talks about how basicallythat you can do a lot of the same activities that you do initerations in a Kanban system. Its just that theyre decoupledfrom the iteration itself. So with Scrum for example, you end updoing your planning and estimation, your development, yourtesting, your deployment, and your retrospective all on the samecycle. So every month you do all of those things. With Kanbanyou can still do all of those things. They just dont all have to becoupled to the iterations.You can do your planning every week. You can do your estimationevery other week. You can do your testing every quarter, and youcan do your retrospectives on demand. You can still do a lot ofthose things. They just dont have to be as rigidly structured withthe iteration.Joe: I always think of software development as a fairlysophisticated field, and a lot of technical things go into it. Then allof a sudden I see Kanban taking hold in it where Kanban seemslike the simplest of all practices. It seems counterintuitive to me alittle bit there. Is that the secret to it? Is that why people areusing it?Chris: Well, yeah. I think theres a lot to that. I think that assophisticated as our jobs maybe are, we often struggle I think assoftware developers to be good at process. I think theres about a30 or 40 year struggle that we can look back on, and nobody thatI know of is really quite satisfied with the way things are in termsof process in software development. There are the people thathave their pet methodology that they push, but I think everybodyrealizes that we have a long way to go to be able to say that wedo this effectively across the boardA lot of times software development teams dont have quite the Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsautonomy that they wish they had to define their own processes.I think thats one of the reasons that Lean and Kanban are takinghold in places where it was difficult for Agile to take hold.Because Agile, in my estimation of it is basically the developer issort of rising up and saying, "We really need a better process todo our work better and were going to tell you the business whatthat process should be." Where when Lean comes in, theres ahistory there. Theres a legacy of Lean. Business leadersrecognize the validity of it from its history.When we start saying, "Instead of doing Agile things, were goingto gradually start implementing Lean principles in ourorganization to help us deliver software better," thats more easilyaccepted at all levels of the business than some of the morerevolutionary Agile practices have been, I think. And I thinktheres a lot of hope in that for us to apply that and get better atit.Joe: I have this feeling the reason I always thought Lean hastaken hold so much better than, lets say, like Six Sigma andmaybe like Agile as you described there a little bit is that thestories are better. The people understand the stories when youresitting here talking about standard work or youre talking aboutvalue stream mapping and youre doing things like that, peopleunderstand the stories. They relate to it better, and thats whatsmade it easier.Chris: I think theres a lot to that, absolutely. And all the storiesfrom history and all the idioms from Japanese that have built intoit, I think theres a lot of knowledge bound up in all that.Joe: Now why an electronic tool for Kanban? I mean Kanban; Ijust put it up on the board, right? I stick the Post-it notes and Imight use different colored Post-it notes up there to signifydifferent things. Why an electronic tool? Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsChris: Well, there are actually several reasons for that. When Ifirst started doing Kanban for my developer teams, we weredoing it on the board with index cards and tape. But we also haddeveloper in Nashville, Tennessee, in Italy, in the Bahamas, andin the Ukraine. So every morning on our call, I would get up andmove their cards around, and they would tell me what it was.They never got to see the board except for some snapshotpictures that I sent them. So theres the working with distributedteams.One of our other cofounders works in a consulting firm here intown and moves around to client sites a lot. They ended uptaking the science project boards, the folding cardboard things,and that was where they put their Kanbans. They would tuck thatunder their arm, load it in the back of the car, and take it withthem to the client site and back and forth to the office.So the distributed team aspect of it is great, and thecommunication you get from being able to interact with people ondifferent time zones and continents, even if its just in differentrooms is good. The other thing is, as developers, I like low fidelitytools. Most developers do. Scrum walls and card walls and juststories, and those kinds of things.Developers like that, but I have yet to meet a project managerthat does. A project manager or a functional manager usuallysees that as lost information that I cant write reports against. Sowith an electronic Kanban tool, the reports about how the work isgoing on is basically captured automatically as you move thecards.So you can get a lot of good information thats actually moretruthful than the information you get from a project managementsystem where developers are coming along and giving youestimates and saying, "Im 75 percent done, or Im 95 percent Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsdone, or Im 80 percent done on this particular task." Becausethe statistics about whats being done and how fast its beingdone are actually captured realistically.I think we talk about project management systems beingrepositories for lies because everybody [laughs] knows that last10 percent of about 90 percent done is like the last minute of anNBA basketball game. It can last a lot longer than you expect. Sodoing away with some of the guessing involved and just capturingthe work as it actually moves, theres a lot of valuable statisticsyou can gain from that.Thats one of the great things, too, about Kanban for softwaredevelopment. I think weve pulled in a lot of interesting newstatistics and analytics tools into that methodology. Some of ithas probably come from Six Sigma. Im not that familiar with SixSigma. But I think some of them do, like the statistical processcontrol charts and things like that.But some really interesting metrics that are easily understandableby everybody and really point out some really interesting thingsabout how work is being done--cumulative flow, looking at cycletime and lead time, overall work in process, and how thatchanges over time. So I think the statistics captured and thedistributed team aspects are probably the two biggest things.Joe: Well, I think you bring up an interesting thing becausethere is still a project manager that has to fulfill needs of otherpeople outside the team.Chris: Absolutely.Joe: And that seems to be a great reason for it. But what do youlose by putting it on a screen? What do you lose by putting it intosoftware versus on the board?Chris: I think the constant challenge is to not let the software Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsget in the way. With a board, anytime you want to add anotherlane or draw a diagonal line across somewhere or do any kind ofchange to your Kanban board that will help you get things donebetter, its as simple as walking up to the board and drawing thatline. With a Kanban tool, a web based tool, the constant challengefor us is to keep it flexible enough that you could still doeverything or almost everything you would want to do on aboard. We think were doing a pretty good job of that.The only one as far as I know among our competitors that can dothings like horizontal lanes and splitting lanes vertically andhorizontally several levels deep so you can break things down anddo little sub-compartments in lanes, rolling the work in processwhen its up that chain, those kinds of things.So thats something that you dont want to let the software get inthe way of making your continuous improvement efforts on yourKanban board.Joe: Corey Ladas said in his ScrumBan book, hes never drawnthe same Kanban system for anyone. He doesnt repeat it.Theyre all somewhat a little different. And that customizableaspect of it is you hate to hear the words. Weve all heard thesewords from software people when we call in with a problem orsomething like that, "Well, the software doesnt allow me to dothat."Chris: Absolutely.Joe: And at any point all software has limitations, but it soundslike what youre doing is that you can split it. You can change alot of things with your tool.Chris: Our product roadmap is basically all about adding moreand more flexibility. There are tools out there that are moreopinionated than ours, that give -- that put more constraints on Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsyou. And their simplicity, part of their goal is simplicity there, andI think that thats a great goal for some segment of the market.Were going after the people that are really wanting to do Kanbanand have the freedom to do all the things they can imagine doing.Were working now on customizing the different card types, andadding classes of service, and allowing you to switch.Right now, the card color is what indicates which type of task itis. Is it a "feature of" or a "task" or an "improvement?" Wereworking on letting you switch that to a different field so you couldsay card color could then communicate class or service, and alittle icon could indicate the card type.Ongoing, thats what our product road map looks like is justcontinuing to add more and more layers of flexibility.Joe: Now how would you recommend someone getting startedwith Kanban doing it with software or do you recommend puttingit up with post it notes and doing your own out there?Chris: Well, if youve got everybody in the same room, put it upin post it notes first. When you get to the point where you feellike you been at it for a week or two and you want to startcollecting better statistics, then a Kanban tool is probably a prettygood way to go. If youve got people in different places, thenyoure going to want to move to a Kanban tool, probably faster.But when youre actually sketching it out, probably, at least drawit out on the board and see how that feels for a few days, or aweek or two, or a cycle or two before you get too deep intochoosing your tool, probably.The other thing, too, though is ours, with a lot of the tools, andours included, are actually really simple to start, as well. I tellpeople to start with three columns; To do, Doing, and Done. Andstart splitting those out from there. Start figuring out how workenters the system. At what point is customer value actually Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsrealized, and so you basically start building your value streammap and reflecting at least a section of that in your Kanban.Ill also tell people its good to try to do the mapping streamexercise in great detail on a board somewhere, and then decidewhat part of that actually goes on your Kanban board. I think thetools are getting better in terms of the flexibility, so you couldvery well start with the software. I just think that that initial brainstorming session where youre just trying to figure out "what is itwe actually do now" is still a good thing to do on a board.Joe: Do you feel that Kanban is in its infancy, do you thinktheres a long way for it to go?Chris: I think theres a lot of adoption thats yet to happen. Ithink that were about to see a pretty significant surge inadoption of Lean and Kanban in software development. I think itaddresses a need that has been nagging for a while, and itaddresses some of the need that Agile tried really hard toaddress, but was not as successful in some areas as it could havebeen. I think that a lot of the promises of Agile about being ableto react quickly and to turn things around fast and to be able toactually make sure that we deliver customer value because weredoing it in short cycles and getting the valuations. I think a lot ofthe promises of Agile can be better realized in a system thatmoves more towards Lean. I dont think we have to throw thebaby out with the bathwater but I think, like I said with Kanban,it can be an evolutionary thing.If youre already doing Agile, you can start adding elements ofKanban and learning more about Lean and beginning to applysome of those principles, basically from where you are. And Ithink that you mentioned this before a lot books that basicallytakes you from that progression where you start with Scrum andyou gradually introduces element of Kanban until what you have Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsis definitely a hybrid, and its not much like Scrum anymore, itsmore of a Kanban system.I think Dave Andersons book on Kanban, Dave Anderson, as faras I know, introduced the software world to Kanban as a tool.Hes definitely been a champion of the community for a long timeand his book is about to be published and I think a lot has goneinto finding what the steps are, what the principles are.I think its beginning to come into some level of maturity anddefinition. I think theres definitely going to be some changesalong the way, but I think were getting to the point where its aviable, robust body of knowledge that goes along with it. Thecommunity has been really active in creating for the last three orfour years.Joe: I see the different Post-it notes going across the board, canyou describe that note to me. Is there technical data within thatnote? Does that note change as it goes through the system?Chris: Well, on a physical board, it can be as much or as little asyou want to put on there. So a lot of times its a user story cardin Agile teams, so it will have the user story like; As a "whateverrole I am, " I want to be able to "whatever function I want toperform, " so that I can "achieve some business value, " form.Maybe itll have "acceptance test" written on it or those kinds ofthings. An electronic tool, Ill just speak to ours specifically, it hasfields for describing it, and so you can put that user story stuff. Ithas some things like "status" and "priority" and "class of service"and "card type."We also have a discussion form on each card. So each card, as itmoves around the board, as developers need to talk about it, itactually starts to discuss the card right on the card and have athreaded conversation about that. The history of the card is keptthere. As the card moves, every time something happens, we Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemscapture an event and that can be seen on the card and later inthe aggregated statistics.Theres some effort to do some leveling I forget the Japanese; itsone of the Japanese words that they use for that. But basicallythings work really well if you can make some effort to make allyour cards of similar size, similar effort, and it can get easier todecipher statistics if you dont have things that are vastlydifferent in size.One thing that takes 700 hours is a card that moves really slowlyacross the board and one thing is a bug fix that takes two hoursis a lot faster. Some effort to make the cards a similar size isdone in a Kanban system, but you can only do so much of that,too. I think you have to mitigate that with some kind of sizeinformation on the card.Joe: So you actually very close to taking a story and developingcertain story points into it in your backlog there, lets say.Chris: Sure, and we actually take out and break a story, too.Well have a horizontal swim lane that represents a feature, sowell have the first block in that will be a green feature card andthen within that its almost like a board within a board. On ourtool, you have a "To Do, Doing, and Done," for that feature. Webreak that card into... so maybe a feature that we break out intouser stories, or tasks. When you scroll the "To Do" column thatsnext to that feature, and gradually move those things across thelanes in the middle of the board until were all over to "Done."Then we move the main feature card over that and to the nextstage of testing and then to deployment.So the cards can be all different kinds of, you can break outsub-cards basically for a feature that needs task breakout. Youcan track those on the board as well. Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: We always talk how Kanban sounds so simple. There arethree columns To do, Doing, and Done, but there are reallysophisticated processes out there. How large of a Kanban boardhave you ever seen? As far as, lets say maybe different swimlanes and different columns across?Chris: Obviously, the physical ones, Ive seen ones that fill anentire wall, floor to ceiling, and have lots of different things goingon. I think theres some value in having a board for each team.Not necessarily per project, or per whatever, because what youreleveling things against, what youre limiting capacity or whatyoure limiting your working process against, youre limitingcapacity of the team.If the team is working on multiple projects, they need to berepresented somehow on the board, and horizontal lanes are agood way to do that.Our board, we thought, the board that we use internally fordevelopment at Bandit Software, we thought it was prettycomplicated and sophisticated and we let some folks at thedevelopment team for Canonical, the Linux distribution webtracking system, started putting some boards up, and they reallygot ambitious with their boards.It can get very complex and lots of layers and levels, and wehave a zoom in and out feature on our tool, so you can actuallyzoom out and see quite a lot of work on one screen. It gets reallytiny, but you can hover over things and see some descriptionsthere.I think there just needs to be some effort to chop things up intomanageable sized chunks, but you can definitely model a verysophisticated and complicated process on a Kanban board, andpeople are definitely, definitely doing that. Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: Do you think Kanban is being used by larger organizations,more so than say smaller ones?Chris: I think theres some of thats happened already in largerorganizations, like the BBC is a big Kanban shop, its permeatedthroughout lots of areas of that organization and there are otherexamples of that. Some of our customers are large. Were notfilling the entire organization yet. Obviously, one at several largecompanies but I think that... like I said with the Agile thing, theLean adoption in places that would have been resistant to Agile,like large companies, will actually help Kanban adoption in thatarea.I think personal Kanban is definitely a growing thing, too. Itsvery useful for limiting your own working process and forsomebody who lives and breathes Kanban night and day like I do;Im surprisingly not good at personal Kanban.Chris: Im not very good at limiting my own working processand keeping things leveled out there, but Im trying. I do have apersonal Kanban board that I use and try to use it every day. Butyeah, I think large companies are going to see a lot of value frominputting Kanban and being able to see. Especially because it willfocus the Lean principle about "focus on customer value" and onlydefine value in terms of how the customer defines value.That kind of insight in having people look closely at how ourprocess works and what steps is value adding and what steps weshould get rid of, and how in the end we create value for thecustomer. I think large companies will definitely gravitate to that.Joe: One of the things that you mention about Kanban is that ithelps with the continuous flow of work or avoiding bottlenecksand blockers. Why does it do that?Chris: Well, I dont know that in itself it does that, it points out Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthose things, right? The first principle in Kanban is to make thework visible. When you throw the work up on the wall and yousay "Heres our development and testing and deployment. Heresa stack of 35 cards thats waiting for testing." Its obvious thattheres a bottleneck at testing. Where the testing team doesnthave the capacity or theyre getting work in too big of a batch tobe able to clear it quickly, whatever that situation is. The Kanbanboard and the visual nature of it help you see those problemsquickly. Its really easy to get organizational support to dosomething about it when somebody can come and look at theproblem and see it visually on the board, as opposed to hearing adeveloper complain about it, or a project manager complainabout it.I think the principles then also involved in -- from there, theprinciples that are built into the Kanban system and the Leanprinciples will help you to address those bottlenecks as theyappear.Just the same way they do in the manufacturing world where theEli Goldratt book talks about how every system has bottlenecksand this is not good or bad, it just is. As you clear one bottleneck,others will pop up, and you just have to deal with those as theycome up, but the Kanban system makes it really obvious wherethose things are.The continuous flow of work, and limiting the working process is,again, is the second cornerstone to the Kanban system, at leastthe way that were defining it in the software world is limiting theworking process and not letting things backup. Placing limits onhow many items can go into this column or limits of how manyitems of a certain type can go into this column can help you stopthose bottlenecks and backlogs from happening mid process andkeep the overall cycle time lower. Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsTheres some information there about queuing theory and theLittles Law, where they talk about the average cycle time ofitems going through their system is directly proportional to theoverall number of items in that system. So the lower you cankeep that number over time, the faster things can move throughit.Kanban and implementing the principles that go along withmanaging this system and continuously improving it can help youavoid bottlenecks and block through and managing a continuousflow of work.And a pull system, we talk about pull a lot and how instead ofbatching up a set of work and pushing it into an iterationschedule, we actually try and pull the next highest valuedcustomer valued item from the queue as the system has capacityrather than pushing things in. Doing that pull, again, usingworking process limits, to manage when capacity is available, canmake things go faster there, too. We talk about working processlimit as the lever that we apply to the Kanban system to get it tobehave the way that we want it to.So there are almost all the things that we end up wanting to doto improve the flow and reduce bottlenecks and that kind ofthing, involve, at some point the working process limiting on theboard.Joe: We talk about Kanban and dealing with working process,which Im a big believer of that, even in sales and marketing. Ibelieve that people that many people keep working to fill up theirfunnel but never do a good job of managing their prospects thatare in their funnel. To do that, and to manage a working process,from the old troubleshooter side of me where I would take servicecalls, I always would ask someone "What did you do right beforethis problem took place? What did you do right before this Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 18. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemshappened?" The problem typically was always the step before.If Kanban really concentrates on working process, does it help tomanage the queue? Because isnt that where its coming from?Chris: Thats absolutely a big issue, I think that one of theprinciples that we talked about is to balance demand againstthroughput. Once youve clearly stated and understand what theactual capacity of your system is and youve placed intelligentlimits along the way, to keep you from pushing more into thatsystem that has to pass through whole. You can actually asbusiness leaders and as the people that are building that queueand deciding what comes next you can make much moreintelligent informed decisions about the priority of things. So evenif you say youre going to push more work onto the developmentteam, theyre not going to be able to get it all done. Things aregoing to fall through the cracks, and the overall cycle time isgoing to suffer.But if youve limited it intelligently, you can actually look and go,"I know the next time we have capacity, that this is the highestpriority item." And you dont have to guess and reprioritize overand over again as things go through the system.The limits, like you said, are the step before. The limits on theboard can limit how much work you push into the system to beginwith. And when youve limited that and its clear what that limitis, you can make really clear priority decisions about what comesnext.Joe: I there something that you would like to add that maybe Ididnt ask thats about Kanban that you feel thats important?Chris: Just one thing. One of the things that weve startedtalking a lot about on our team and to some of our customers isthe importance of some technical practices. Lean and Kanban in Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 19. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthe software world dont come with technical practices like someof the Agile methods do. But we feel like there are some technicalpractices that development teams can follow that will aid them inbeing able to produce that continuous flow of work and avoidbaulkers and avoid bottlenecks. Theres not a lot of discussiongoing on about that.At least as the software developers talk amongst themselvesabout how to improve the system, theres some things we can dolike branch per feature, source control strategies, release perfeature, and automated testing at the regression testing level andacceptance testing level.And getting to a place of where you can do things like continuousdeployment where you actually automate deployments toproduction on a regular basis based on once youre comfortablewith your automated testing suite. So doing those kinds of thingsas a development team can really help your ability to manage thiskind of system.Theres a big conference coming up here in a couple weeks. Imnot sure when this will actually air, but the Lean Software andSystems Conference in Atlanta on April the 21st that were goingto be at, have a booth, and be showing off some new features ofthe software to you.Joe: I would like to thank you very much. I appreciate theoverview, Chris. It was very helpful to me in understanding that.How can someone get a hold of you?Chris: Chris.Hefley@BanditSoftware.com. Or the URL for oursoftware is LeanKitKanban.com, and you can send us an emailfrom there and take a demo. Theres a free version of thesoftware. You can check it out there and a free trial for a largerteam. Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901
  • 20. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: jtdager@business901.com Web/Blog: http://www.business901.com Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectively and withingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work with." James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providingdirection in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, ProductLaunches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt,Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performanceplanning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a singleflexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result betterexecution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with aconsulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtualassistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities toplug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting theprocess as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processeswill become a habit and not an event. Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status Lean Kanban Lessons from a Software Developer Copyright Business901