The Kanban Board is definitely one of the most important tools for those who use agile methods in their projects. Its usability relies on organizing tasks for every project you are involved in and makes your life easier to control all workflow.
It may seem a little rusty tool, but when you are using it, you will change your mind. There are a lot of options to diversify your tasks with Kanban Boards and let your workflow set and ready!
In the article, you will find out 5 ways to diversify tasks with a Kanban Board and see how you can prioritize them with this tool!
If you want to read more about Kanban, here’s what you can find:
5 steps to diversify a Kanban workflow
1- Choose continuous flows and involving ordered cooperative activities
The first point is the need for a collaborative workflow, that is: multiple people or teams are involved and need to communicate quickly.
Furthermore, it makes no sense to want to use a kanban workflow in a process where there is no clear flow of ordered tasks and activities.
For example, activities that require immediate decision-making due to sudden changes of scenery, such as surgery, for example; or that demand creative effort and a lot of subjectivity, such as directing a film for the cinema, do not adapt adequately to a kanban workflow.
2- Map each step of the process very carefully
Before creating the to-do lists, map the process and understand each of its steps, especially when tasks actually change hands, as this is the key to defining when a card will move from one list to another.
Therefore, defining who the process agents are can help a lot. When you notice that an activity will be taken over by another person or team, this is a good indication that a new list should be created.
3- Be aware of possible bottlenecks
If there is a stage in the process where there is a high possibility of delays or lack of resources, it is important to pay attention to them when defining the lists later on.
4- Create the lists of the activities
The easiest way to start creating your kanban workflow lists is to define the input list, which many call “To Do” and the list where completed tasks should be placed, usually called “Done”.
But you can customize these lists, giving a more familiar name and related to your activity. Thus, those who work with digital marketing, creating texts for blogs, for example, can call the entry list “guidelines”, or, in the case of a mechanical workshop, the list can be called “vehicles”.
The following list should correspond to the first task that must be performed. Normally, no one starts to do anything without stopping and thinking for a while. So, a list often used at this point is planning.
5- Define colors for cards and facilitate control
We commented that one of the pillars of the kanban workflow is to allow quick and intuitive visual control.
Therefore, in addition to tasks, it is possible to define some special characteristics that certain entries have, thus facilitating the entire process management.
For example, when including agendas or vehicles in the corresponding lists, you can use 3 card colors to indicate whether that text or service is normal, urgent, or a restatement.
Thus, the colors of the cards can represent some information relevant to your business, such as identifying which customer the work is being done for, where the final delivery should be made, the language in which the text should be written and many other variables, depending on of your industry.
How to Prioritize Work with Kanban Columns?
Usually, every Kanban board starts with a column called “backlog”. This is the place where you put all future work and ideas.
Next is the “requested” or “ready to start” column that serves as the entry point of work items to your workflow. All Kanban tasks that the team committed to starting are positioned there, depending on their priority.
However, there can be different types of “waiting” Kanban columns further in the workflow on your board, depending on your team’s functionalities.
For each of them, your team needs to follow the rule of pulling top cards first—this way, the tasks of highest importance will be completed as fast as possible.
Some examples of “waiting” Kanban columns may be:
- Waiting for Approval – This type of Kanban queue column is appropriate for tasks that require approval to be processed (payments, promotional sales, etc.)
- Waiting for Review – This Kanban queue is a relevant stage of the workflow where work items wait to be evaluated. It is like a filter before tasks receive feedback and move forward to the completion stage or go back for improvements. It plays a crucial role in product/service quality (product development, content writing, design, etc.)
- Waiting for External Activity – This kind of Kanban column is applicable for tasks waiting on third-party actions to be completed. It often happens when a team communicates with other units outside of the company. (partnerships, affiliate programs, etc.)
Generally, by using Kanban, you create a pull system where team members pull their next task after finishing their current one. However, before pulling the next work item, you need to know one basic rule:
When you place future tasks in a waiting Kanban column, you need to make sure that the top ones will be of the highest importance.
Every time one of your team members decides to pull a new Kanban task, it will be the one with the highest priority. This doesn’t mean that high-priority tasks will constantly overpass tasks with low priority. You have to expedite only urgent work items.
How to diversify with the Kanban backlog
The backlog may be the place where your team plans all future work, but it can easily become a messy place with tons of ideas.
This is why your team needs to review all items on the backlog to ensure that it contains the appropriate items and prioritize them. This should be an ongoing activity or, even better, an activity that occurs regularly.
Some of the things your team can do during this refinement process are removing irrelevant tasks; new tasks that cover newly discovered requirements; merging tasks; and breaking down items that are too big and others.
Moreover, you can create sub-columns in your backlog to separate tasks planned for different periods, for example, each quarter of the year.
What are the benefits of using Kanban?
Macro view of work
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to find project managers having problems communicating with their teams.
Often, the lack of visibility about the progress of activities can bring problems that could be avoided if the manager were more aligned with the team.
As Kanban provides a comprehensive view of the status of all activities, the manager can quickly identify bottlenecks in the team and if there are activities that are taking longer than usual to complete, for example.
Furthermore, it can investigate the possible causes of these occurrences and prevent them from compromising the process.
Delivery flow optimization
As a result of simplifying the work visualization, Kanban optimizes the team’s delivery flow, that is, it eliminates obstacles that could hinder the development of activities.
This is possible because the team now has a complete vision of the process, what needs to be done and the demand they have to supply.
Establishing a limit of activities for each column, as already mentioned, avoids overloading the team and ensures that employees only work what their capacity allows.
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