Team Kanban and Services

Implementing a basic Kanban system to visualise and manage the flow of work provides almost immediate relief to overburdened teams. The real fun, however, starts when these teams realise they are just a part of a bigger, end-2-end service that delivers value to customers. 

Why Kanban?

There are many benefits from implementing Kanban, such as unburdening overloaded teams, reducing lead times and delivering more value to customers. But it takes a while to get there and often teams start using Kanban because it helps them get the basics right.  Basics such as reducing multitasking, focusing on outcomes and simply just being able to track what everybody works on at the moment ...


View Work Through the Kanban Lenses

In many instances, the very first use of Kanban is to better visualise and manage tasks. While undoubtedly beneficial, the true value of Kanban doesn't become apparent until one starts to see all knowledge work as services. To help with this important mindset change, we have the 4 Kanban Lenses.


Getting Started with Kanban

So what is Kanban and how do you get started? Monica Giorgieff gave such a good introduction to Kanban at the IT Leader Growth Summit we hosted in 2018 that we just have to include it here. Below this intro you'll also find a few other links to videos that cover common startup questions.

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We know how busy it can get. We also know how critical it is to keep finding time to improve how you work. Which is why we prepare one monthly email to summarise everything interesting happening in the Xuviate Kanban & Business Agility universe.

Adopt Good Kanban Practices

One of Kanban's great virtues is that it encourages you to "start with where you are now". This means you don't need to know everything and you can learn and improve as you go on. Even so, it does help to learn about some good practices that we see again and again to get you up and running a lot faster.

Kanban is an evolutionary change method that tells you to start with what you do now. Get an intro to the Kanban Change Management Principles in this video.

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When cards on your Kanban board move slower than expected you may be suffering from the effects of hidden work. But what can you do about it?

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Stop starting, start finishing is good advice we often hear in Kanban circles. Ask this one question every time you finish some work.

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Queue columns in Kanban clarify who is currently working on what and should be added to each activity. Mathias demonstrates why this makes a difference.

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You don’t have a Kanban board until you enforce WIP limits. Mathias gives a few pointers on how to get started. When you feel some pain you have done well.

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How do you run an effective Daily Kanban Meeting? Mathias shares 4 simple tips to get you started in this Business Agility Daily episode.

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Kanban tells us we need to make our policies explicit. Why? And how? Mathias uses a great analogy to explain the concept and then demos how it is done.

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In this Business Agility Daily episode Mathias introduces the practice of swarming to help fix stale Kanban meetings.

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There is huge value in having a structured set of meetings to synchronise information flows across the business. Here is an overview of the Kanban Cadences.

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If everyone is responsible for 10 active tasks, how do you know what they really are working on? Normally you would have to ask, unless you apply this trick!

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Kanban for Project Management

Chances are good that many projects and changes in your organisation take forever to complete. Fortunately project management is just another service that benefits greatly from getting the Kanban treatment and you can again start with what you do now and learn as you go on. Here are some additional pointers to get you off to a solid start.


Metrics and Measurements

You can only improve what you can measure. Kanban makes this very simple by giving us 4 actionable metrics with which to continuously improve our service to customers: cycle time, throughput, work in progress and flow efficiency. In the following 7 videos we will provide such a good overview that you'll immediately want to see how your own system behaves.

Implementing Kaban improves the stability of the system and decreases cycle time, not necessarily how much work gets done. Mathias explains the theory.

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When will this be done? To answer this question (and avoid the frustrations of getting it wrong), you need to learn about flow metrics. This is your intro!

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The Cumulative Flow Diagram is arguably the most versatile chart used in Kanban. It not only shows the 3 key flow metrics but also reveals a lot of details.

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Learn how to use the Cycle Time Scatter Plot to predict how long it will take to complete some work. You will also see some common patterns to look out for.

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To deliver work faster (who does’t?), you need to know where to focus. The Flow Efficiency and Heatmap charts are two important tools you need to know!

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Keep an eye on current performance levels with the WIP Run Chart and Aging WIP Chart and detect possible risks long before they become problems.

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How long will it take to complete a complex project with say 100 work items? To answer this question, you want to get to know the Monte Carlo simulation.

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Experiment and Improve Continuously

Kanban is an evolutionary change management method. This means that, while it encourages you to "start with what you do now", it also expects you to review your services periodically and run experiments to try and deliver ever better and more predictable services.  Scheduling a regular service delivery review meeting is one way to get started with continuous improvement. For ideas on what specifically to improve, have a look at the Kanban Maturity Model to learn what other organisations have done when faced with similar situations.

Matt Philip, Director at ThoughtWorks, spoke to Mathias at length about the service delivery review meeting and how essential it is for continuous improvement

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In 2018, David Anderson and Teodora Bozheva gave an intro to the Kanban Maturity Model and how it can help any organisation become more adaptive and competitive

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Back in 2018, Alex Novkov, Content Lead at Kanbanize, demonstrated how their product supports the journey from Kanban Maturity Level 1 through to 4.

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Mathias explains how the Kanban Maturity Model can help you get your Kanban journey back on track in this short Business Agility Daily video.

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Your Kanban initiative will stall if you don’t implement a service delivery review meeting. Mathias outlines a 6 step process to run an effective one.

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Kanban for IT Leaders

Even though Kanban has become an almost universal business productivity tool, it is still often the IT department who discovers and applies it first, thereby creating a powerful case study for the rest of the business. Here are some videos specifically for the IT leaders.

Is it possible to replace your helpdesk system with Kanban? Yes! In this Business Agility Daily video Mathias shows how this would look like in Kanbanize

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Dimitar Karaivanov, CEO of Kanbanize, spoke at length to Mathias about how IT Leaders in Mid-Sized Businesses can use Kanban

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Johan Pretorius, ICT Manager at Aerosud, spoke to Mathias about how they managed to double IT team throughput within just 3 days after implementing Kanban

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