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August 20, 2020

How can Kanban Change the Way You Manage Projects?

By Brian McHale

If you’ve ever found yourself managing a project and wondering: “How am I going to get this done?” then you need Kanban.

A project management methodology that makes managing tasks a lot easier (and significantly reduces headaches), Kanban comes with plenty of benefits.

Today, we’re going to show you what Kanban is, how you can use the boards, and what to expect.

Let’s dive in!

 

What Is Kanban?

Often, while working on a specific project, we get stuck due to backlogs. It takes a long time to figure out what the holdup is.

If you’ve experienced these kinds of problems, the only solution is to improve your workflow.

How?

With the iconic and revolutionary project management method – Kanban.

Kanban Board

The word originally stems from the Japanese word for “billboard,” and Kanban was designed in the 1940s by Toyota.

This unique and useful project management method consists of boards with cards and columns.

Cards and columns don’t only make the entire process of managing tasks and workflows easier.

Nope.

With visual representation, managing projects actually becomes fun.

Each card denotes a specific task, and you can use the columns to arrange those tasks in the order of their progress (e.g. To-do, Doing, Done).

 

The Benefits of Kanban System

Developed way back in the 1940s for the simple task of scheduling systems and things, today, Kanban project management has been upgraded to fit the needs of various industries.

Teams enjoy using Kanban for its ease of use and visual representation.

Additionally, Kanban allows everyone to figure out how to complete a project as they tick off each task.

With Kanban, everything is visible on a single screen along with designated priorities, details, and so on.

Even if team members are focusing on different tasks at a given moment, they can pause and check out the tasks that require urgent attention.

If that task is a priority, they can easily reschedule other tasks, and get to work on the task that matters.

This way, there are no delays and no problems.

The project’s workflow remains as efficient as you’d always wanted it to be!

 

Kanban Pros and Cons

Kanban is revolutionary for a variety of reasons:

  • It increases efficiency and productivity
  • It streamlines your workflow
  • Kanban makes sure you don’t waste time, money, or resources on ineffective processes and tasks
  • Kanban visualizes the entire workflow, and clarifies task ownership and details so everyone on the team knows what they should be working on

However, just like everything, there are certain cons to Kanban which you should keep in mind:

Kanban isn’t ideal for everyone.

If you’re dealing with workplace hierarchy and you have to double-check everything with your top management, you might struggle.

If you’re not handling numerous tasks, then Kanban might not be as beneficial.

Similarly, once you go Kanban, you can hardly go back. Teams get used to it.

So if you’re used to iterative project management styles (e.g. Agile project management), Kanban might not work for your entire project – just for sprints.

But in general, Kanban works really, really well for a variety of project teams.

And if you’re an occasional project manager, you’re going to love it!

So our first step is finding out…

 

What Are Kanban Boards?

One of the most integral parts of the entire Kanban system is the Kanban board.

Kanban boards are visual boards that help you organize your tasks according to stages.

If you’re working in agile or software development, you might want to divide your Kanban according to features and milestones.

Normally, the 3 typical Kanban columns are:

  • To do
  • Doing
  • Done

Then, you add and move tasks as you complete them.

Other formats include:

  • Not started
  • In progress
  • Completed

You get the idea.

This system is what forces you to stop multitasking, and focus on the task at hand.

The purpose of the Kanban board is to help you visualize your entire project and workflow.

It’s kind of similar to creating mind maps.

Before diving into different tasks in a random order, you’ll divide the tasks into actionable items according to their priority.

Your entire Kanban board should be customizable and available to every team member.

And since the Kanban board is visualizing your workflow, as well as offering all the details to your team members, every task will seem incredibly doable.

You can remove and add tasks. You can also set a task limit in every column to avoid overwhelming yourself with tasks.

Once the entire team is working single-mindedly to reduce the number of ‘in-progress’ tasks, you’ll maximizing efficiency.

Plus, it’ll be much easier to manage your project.

If you want to make things even clearer, you can add sub-tasks.

This way, you’re dividing a huge task into smaller, more manageable tasks.

This helps you motivate your team in the long term, too!

Another feature of Kanban board which allows you to assign different tasks to different departments of a team is a swimlane.

You can create highlighted rows that additionally clarify task ownership.

For example, if you’re working with a few teams, a swimlane can show everyone what their team should be working on.

Free Project Plan Template in Excel

Click to download our Free Project Plan Template in Excel to begin simplifying your project management.

Kanban vs Scrum: Can They Work Together?

Kanban and Scrum are often juxtaposed, but they’re not mutually exclusive.

So, what’s the difference?

First, Kanban is primarily used as a task management method.

It’s as simple as it gets, and works for a variety of project teams.

Scrum, on the other hand, focuses on software development projects that require multiple iterations.

Instead of completing all your work at once, you’d work in sprints.

However, Kanban’s visual representation can definitely enhance your Scrum workflow.

Source: PMI

Scrum can be used as a bigger framework to handle your project.

If you encounter bottlenecks, you can easily find out what’s stopping you from succeeding with Kanban.

So if Scrum is the big project management picture, then Kanban allows you to understand the details affecting your progress.

The question isn’t Kanban vs Scrum. Rather, it’s: how to implement and use both to your advantage.

However, if you only occasionally manage projects and you don’t have professional training, it’s a lot easier to get started with Kanban.

 

How to Get Started with Kanban?

Alright, now that we’ve covered all the basics, it’s time to help you get to work!

1. First step: sign up for a free trial of Project Central

2. Next, create your project and add your tasks

Start adding tasks:

  • Task name
  • Description
  • Due dates
  • Priorities
  • Details
  • Task owners

3. Now, click on Boards and you’ll be able to view all tasks as cards on their own board.

Like we already said, some project managers usually use: “To do,” “Doing,” and “Done.”

But we prefer “Not started“, “In progress“, “Completed

Once you complete a task, mark it as “Done” and it’ll be moved to the “Done” column. From there, you can pull up new tasks, and keep working.

If you need more details, you can always add sub-tasks and communicate about changes. Depending on the software you’re using, you might even be able to leave feedback directly in your Kanban board.

But at the end of the day, Kanban is a great way to organize your projects. So, what do you say?

Are you ready to rock that project?

Get Started With Project Central

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