You’d be hard pressed to find any manager that wouldn’t want to make their employees more productive and improve teamwork and collaboration. However, changing a company’s entire culture is not only difficult but without implementing real solutions, it could end up not having much of an effect on your workforce. This is where Kanban comes in. Kanban is an Agile management methodology that allows you to get the most out of your employees’ time while improving workflow and collaboration through every stage of the production process. Let’s take a look at what Kanban is and why it could dramatically boost your workforce productivity.
Kanban as a system was first introduced in the late 1940s by the Toyota company to facilitate their production process. It was later integrated as part of their lean philosophy, which then started affecting every industry from manufacturing to IT, software development, healthcare, and many more. The Kanban approach was created solely to eliminate wasteful processes while still maintaining optimal quality standards.
The basics of Kanban are pretty simple. It all starts with a Kanban board, which at its most basic form will be composed of three columns, namely “requested”, “in progress”, and “done”. Kanban cards with specific tasks will then be “pulled” through the three columns, allowing project managers and team members to see the progress of the production process in real time.
Software solutions like Kanbanize take it a step further by facilitating communication between various departments and employees. Through the Kanbanize software, the follow-up process is made much easier and allows for more advanced analytics. It also allows management to create elaborate Kanban boards and digital Kanban cards. In addition, Kanban allows team members and management to make modifications during the production process more easily and add new tickets to the stream without having to wait for every set of tasks to be completed, as happens with Scrum, for instance.
Kanban can facilitate teamwork in a vast number of ways. For one, it shifts your employees mentally from individual working parts to true collaborative teamwork. Team members can now collaborate on tasks in real time, no matter where they are, and they really feel like they’re part of a team, even if they’re not in direct contact with each other. This alone could completely transform the way they work and the workplace and give them the impression that they are truly part of something bigger. It also gives them a sense of purpose by showing them how much of an impact their work has on the whole process.
Another thing Kanban does is that it facilitates communication between not only team members, but with management as well. Employees are often encouraged to provide input, and Kanban makes the whole process much easier. It also facilitates the follow-up process and allows them to work more freely without having the impression management is always peeking over their shoulder. This alone could have major repercussions on employee morale and satisfaction.
Kanban allows for high-value information to be transferred more quickly and more transparently. It also allows you to switch between mass and targeted communication seamlessly. Managers can connect with team members directly, members can communicate between members, and information that is pertinent to the whole team can be broadcasted on the Kanban board.
Some managers may be in love with the idea of meetings, but your employees might not feel the same. Unlike other methodologies like Scrum where the whole team has to go through meetings every day, Kanban eliminates this need completely. This means that employees don’t have to report every day on their progress. Having to constantly go to Scrum meetings for follow-ups can actually hinder workflow in some cases, and some employees may prefer to work on their actual tasks instead. Constant meetings can become tiresome after a while and implementing a Kanban system will allow your employees to enjoy more autonomy, which will result in a more satisfying and less demanding workplace.
In many organizational structures, management will be left with the lion’s share of communicating and identifying issues. But with Kanban, employees can eliminate the middleman completely and address issues in real time directly. And managers will still be kept in the loop since they’ll also be able to see updates or bottlenecks in real time, as they’ll be broadcast on the Kanban board. This also allows your teams to enjoy more autonomy and reduces interruption from upper management.
Management can also assess issues as they’re happening and ask specific team members for input. They can ask their team what is moving and what’s not and the reasons behind it. They can also ask why certain tasks aren’t moving and what needs to be done for them to do so. These rich conversations will ensure that your team stays focused at all times and will reduce confusion and misunderstandings.
Kanban aims to pull items through the production process instead of pushing them, allowing you to adjust workflow based on available resources and optimize completion time. This means you won’t overextend your workforce. It also ensures that each task is completed correctly. Pushing tasks will also lead to bottlenecks and slow down the whole process.
A pull system will also allow you to prioritize tasks in the backlog and make sure that the most important ones are addressed first. This allows managers to still oversee tasks, while team members will be able to know which tasks need to be pulled from the backlog first.
As you can see, implementing a Kanban system could not only help you boost your overall productivity but could have huge repercussions on your work environment and workforce. So, if you want to reap all the benefits Kanban has to offer, we strongly suggest you consider giving it a try and see if it works for your operation.