Productivity is a key element of a successful workplace. The more each team member can achieve in any given time period without compromising on the quality of the outcome, the better. You don’t need to be on the internet for long to be inundated with tips, tricks, strategies, concepts, and ideas purported to improve your productivity.
But which way do you turn? The last thing you want is to deal with what turns out to be a troublesome method. Enter Kanban, a simple and intuitive solution that will help you boost your productivity with minimal effort. Popular concepts like lean startups and lean manufacturing grew out of Kanban.
The method is used in a variety of industries and fields, including retail, software development, project management and among countless teams looking to improve their efficiency. Before we get into what makes Kanban beneficial to productivity, let’s take a look at its fundamental structure, the Kanban board.
The Kanban Board
A Kanban board is split up into a number of vertical columns and horizontal lanes. Columns are titled according to the stage of the task at hand. For instance, if you’re developing software, you can split the board into columns with titles such as pending, analysis, development, testing and deployment.
Titles can further be split to include specific stages, such as to define what is in progress and what is complete. On your horizontal axis, you’ll use lanes to represent different types of work, classes of services or even team members. Above each title is a number representing the maximum number of cards that can be added to each section.
This way, if one stage of the development is suffering from bottlenecks, it’s easy to identify where exactly that is and implement changes accordingly. Making a basic example of a Kanban board takes nothing more than a surface to write on and a stack of sticky notes – it’s really that simple. However, there are more robust solutions.
Modern Kanban Boards
With the proliferation of remote work and teams spanning multiple locations, a physical board isn’t always the best solution. Fortunately, there is dedicated software available to fill the gap. Kanbanize is a popular Kanban app that offers a variety of powerful features geared towards making the method even more useful for productivity.
You can customize the app to suit your specific environment and needs. Additionally, it offers analytics and reporting tools designed to help you identify room for improvement. Automation features and integration with other software also come as standard, making Kanbanize one of the most powerful solutions in its class.
At this point, you probably already have a few ideas as to how Kanban can boost your productivity. In case you’re still skeptical, here are 5 reasons to consider.
As we touched on earlier, constantly having a full visualization of your process makes it easy to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies. With the assistance of Kanban software, you can quickly determine how to fix these errors. Every obstacle removed streamlines the overall workflow and eliminates one less potential issue from the next project.
Limiting Work in Progress
Kanban promotes the act of focusing on the task at hand, instead of attempting to tackle a number of tasks at once. Teams often find that a work in progress (WIP) limit helps them deliver work faster. Multitasking also has the tendency to result in missed details and an overall lower quality outcome, which is another reason why limiting WIP is better.
Another productivity benefit that’s particularly noticeable with the use of Kanban software is the ability to analyze your work. There are a number of key metrics that can be used to measure and improve productivity. These metrics may vary depending on the software you choose, but cycle time and throughput are some of the most popular.
Cycle time measures how long it takes for a certain task to make its way through the process. Throughput measures the number of tasks completed within a specific time period. These metrics alone will help you see how your productivity changes over time. This is a great way to determine whether any new measures are paying off in the long run.
Kanban encourages frequent collaboration between team members, thus making them more compatible with each other and subsequently, more productive. You can use Kanban meetings to help team members share their opinions on how to improve current processes and brainstorm solutions to current problems.
In the context of a team, each member can see exactly where they are in the process and where other members are. If someone is slacking or lagging behind, the rest of the team notices. This makes everyone accountable for what they have to do, ensuring a better work ethic and improving the overall productivity of the team.
There are many additional ways that Kanban is beneficial to any workplace. Be sure to give its implementation some consideration, as it will quickly prove its worth as a valuable tool for increasing productivity and quality of output.