Disclaimer: I’m a huge kanban fan, and have been for a while. However, my pet peeve is when people think that kanban is easy. I guess they think it’s easy, because they only ever get to stage 1 – mapping out the current process – visualizing it. And there it stops.
I’m in the process of moving my one team from scrum to kanban (again). In an environment where our stream of work is highly unpredictable (almost support type work items), we have found it incredibly hard, perhaps even impossible to serve the business in an efficient manner, and sticking to a 2 week timeboxed iteration with committed work.
For this reason, and some others, we are currently experimenting with kanban. For me, one of the toughest parts of kanban is to observe the entire workflow system, and identify one area to improve and monitor to check success.
First of all, when initially mapping our the workflow, my teams have more often than not, started somewhere in the middle of their actual workflow, and ended before stuff was really done. This causes people in the team to be busy with stuff aside from our visible tasks on the board. At first it might not be too noticeable, as it’s small little admin jobs which don’t take up that much time. In the long haul, these items chew up time without anyone even realising, and before long, your team is probably spending a significant amount of time on these nitty gritties.
What I’ve tried to do to avoid this, is to include these in lane policies, where possible. Sometimes this doesn’t make sense though, and you have to adapt the entire board.
Another anti-pattern which I’ve come across, is that a lot of people have the idea that the lower your WIP limits, the better. The effects of different WIP limits are interestingly illustrated in this video – you can quite clearly see the effect of having your WIP limit set too low.
- What have your experiences been while implementing kanban?
- How have you and your teams decided on – and perfected – WIP limits?
- How do you identifies areas that need change and improvement?