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A Guide to Agile Kanban


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How to apply Agile Kanban in your organization to effectively build software products.

A Guide to Agile Kanban (15 min read), enjoy :)

1 Introduction
1.1 What is Kanban?
1.2 Why does Kanban work?

2 Getting started
2.1 Get your Team on board
2.2 Map your Workflow
2.3 Define Stage Policies
2.4 Visualize Work
2.5 Limit Work-in-Progress
2.6 Pulling new Work
2.7 Measure & Learn

3 Best Practices & Work Examples
3.1 Backlog Handling
3.2 Defining Work
3.3 Defining Stage Policies
3.4 Stand-up Meetings
3.5 Kanban enables Continuous Delivery
3.6 Marking work as ready for the next stage
3.7 When work is blocked

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A Guide to Agile Kanban

  1. 1. Brought to you byBrought to you by A Guide to Agile Kanban 15 min read
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. What is Kanban?
  4. 4. What is Kanban? Kanban is a way for teams & organizations to visualize their work. Every team member immediately gets overview who’s doing what and can easily identify and eliminate bottlenecks. ! Kanban is about continuously improving your process and the way you manage the flow of work, rather than managing team members and their work.
  5. 5. What is Kanban? Every member of the team and the team as a whole benefits from Kanban. Teams reduce waste by setting the optimal amount of work they can handle at one time which leads to a smooth & continuous workflow. ! Hence, you can automatically give greater focus to fewer tasks and achieve higher product quality to eventually provide greater value to the customer.
  6. 6. Why does Kanban work?
  7. 7. A picture is worth a thousand words — Kanban visualizes your work by using cards on a Kanban board to create a picture of your work. ! The board makes work visible to the whole team by showing how work is flowing through each step of the process, and provides direct context for the work by showing who is focusing on what & why. Why does Kanban work?
  8. 8. Getting started
  9. 9. Get your Team on Board
  10. 10. Get your Team on Board Kanban is built with you in mind whether your team is in the same room, distributed over different floors, different cities or even continents. ! Invite marketing, sales, business development, customer support and every other involved stakeholder to collaborate directly with engineering, user experience & design. ! Bringing the skills of every individual together on the same page gives the ability to move and ship faster.
  11. 11. Map your Workflow See the status of the work being done at a glance by visually representing each stage of your process flow in a Kanban Board. ! To create your workflow you first identify the major processes of your department or organization and then map them to a Kanban Board.
  12. 12. Map your Workflow You can identify them by simply determining “Where do features come from and where are they going next?”. ! The initial stages of a workflow on a Kanban Board for example could be: ! User Experience > Implementation > Validation > Party ! Add, update or remove stages to visualize your Workflow to match your project’s needs.
  13. 13. Define Stage Policies What happens in the stage “Review”?
  14. 14. Define Stage Policies Stage policies allow teams to explicitly define what happens in every stage of their workflow. ! They’re two fold. Stage policies set quality standards and minimum requirements for cards to be in a specific column. ! Considerations or requirements that should be met at a certain stage of the process can be defined as well in a stage’s policy.
  15. 15. Visualize Work
  16. 16. Visualize Work Map your entire software development workflow in Kanban Boards to get overview about who is working on what and most importantly why. ! Start by adding Cards that represent features which are worth doing. ! Cards should have a short title that everyone in your team can recognize and understand.
  17. 17. Visualize Work Ideally each card should show the reason why it is being built, who is currently involved and an optional state, for example if it is "Blocked" or "Ready for the next Stage”. ! By doing this work gets visible to all involved stakeholders, collaboration and communication increases instantly and you are able to easily identify blockers, bottlenecks and things that slow the delivery to the customer down.
  18. 18. Limit Work-in-Progress Reduce the time a card takes to go through from the first to the last stage by adding card limits to stages of the board in which work is being performed. ! Setting the optimal amount of work that your team can handle at one time will lead to a smooth & continuous workflow and it improves quality because you can give greater focus to fewer tasks. ! These benefits improve efficiency and you eventually get more work done in less time.
  19. 19. “Pulling” new Work In a push system finished work gets “pushed” to the next step in the workflow. Whereas in a pull system — like Kanban — work gets “pulled” from one stage to the next when there are open slots available. ! So when a team member is ready to start to work on something new, he or she pulls a new card into the appropriate stage on the board. ! Pulling work leads to flowing work smoothly through the board and leads to higher quality products.
  20. 20. Measure & Learn Where can we improve? What was the blocker here? What made this ship so fast?
  21. 21. Measure & Learn Managing your work with a Kanban Board shows how work is flowing through your development process. ! Measure and analyze the performance of your flow with tools like the Cycle Time of Cards, via mapping your workflow on a Time in Process Chart, creating a table of Outlying Cards and the Cumulative Flow Diagram. ! These metrics help you to prevent future problems and provide you the information you need to optimize your current flow and maximize efficiency.
  22. 22. Best Practices and Work Examples
  23. 23. Handling the Backlog
  24. 24. Handling the Backlog In a fast moving company priorities can change daily, hourly or even every minute. Pulling new work from a different source than the first stage of your main process Kanban board implies to remind you to prioritize work again every time you pull new work to your Kanban board. You can pick out the most valuable work that needs to get done next. ! Work that has been predefined could lead you in the wrong direction if the market situation changed in the meantime.
  25. 25. Handling the Backlog Two recommendations to prevent cards piling up in the Kanban Board where you visualize your main process. ! Use a Separate Board Collect the "ideas" or "cards to be implemented" on a separate board and create a new card in your project as soon as the idea ready to be implemented.
  26. 26. Handling the Backlog Or use a High-Level Roadmap Create a high-level roadmap in free text format where you derive concrete cards out of your higher level goals and eventually add them to your Kanban board. ! Recommended Method: Objectives & Key Results
  27. 27. Defining Work
  28. 28. Defining Work The team should define a way how work gets on a board. ! Either choose a idea/feature to implement depending on what’s important and valuable for the customer. ! Or a board owner defines the work.
  29. 29. Defining Stage Policies Go through every stage policy together with each involved team member and make sure she understands the policies well. ! The more context there is the better the focus and quality of the work outcome will be.
  30. 30. Defining Stage Policies The easiest way to start is with the text “Features in this stage…” ! Examples include: ! • Have a UX concept. • Have been developed and tested. • Have been distributed across our traction channels.
  31. 31. Defining Stage Policies After you’ve described the policy, follow up with some tips/quality descriptions. ! For example: ! • Set a due date in the company calendar to follow up on feature’s performance. • Review work among team before deploying. • Closely monitor WIP limit in this stage.
  32. 32. Stand-up Meetings A powerful way to drive improvement and to get a better feeling for the performance of the flow are regularly held standup meetings. ! “Standups” received their name because teams meet and gather around the board while standing.
  33. 33. Stand-up Meetings To emphasize the pull system you “walk” the stages of the board from right to left. ! Observe while going through the board: ! Do the cards flow through the board smoothly? Are there any blockers? ! The “Standup” is a powerful tool for open collaboration and transparency in teams.
  34. 34. Work Time Estimations Getting estimations right is hard. ! In Kanban you don’t measure how much you can do within a certain period of time. You measure how long a story needs from idea to roll out. ! Priorities are defined depending on what’s important and valuable for the customers, or in any aspect of the company.
  35. 35. Work Time Estimations With every work iteration you get a better feeling on how long work takes based on evidence rather than estimation.
 You are able to optimize your flow and maximize efficiency.
  36. 36. Kanban enables Continuous Delivery CustomersDevelopment Continuous Delivery Design Marketing Engineering Sales Support
  37. 37. Kanban enables Continuous Delivery Markets can change fast and therefore companies need to be able to act quickly to stay upfront. ! Since Kanban doesn’t use time-boxed iterations you can deliver continuously. ! Every story leads to a working feature and ideally to a release.
  38. 38. Mark Work as ready If a feature you are working on is finished and ready to advance to the next stage you can mark the card as ready to let everyone know. ! A team member with an open working slot can pull the card into the next stage of the process.
  39. 39. When Work is blocked Let’s assume a feature you are working on is blocked for some reason. ! Example: the API of a service you are integrating with doesn’t work as described. ! Make the blocker visible to the whole team by marking the card as blocked. Also add the reason (in form of text for example) why it’s blocked or on which action you are waiting so your team can solve the blocker as soon as possible. !
  40. 40. Thank you for reading! Facebook Twitter LinkedIn If you found this useful, share it with your followers:
  41. 41. Learn more Agile for Software Teams