Kanban: The Not-So-Secret Method to Efficient Business Processes
Posted on December 4, 2019 by Vishal
Lean methodology is an expansive subject
dealing with several aspects ranging from value attribution, eliminating waste,
and maximising profit. Lean thinking was at the core of the automobile manufacturing
industry but over time has found application in operations, marketing and human
resources among many others. While the Lean methodology is focused towards
maintaining the quality of the product by avoiding waste, Kanban helps
teams visualise their workflows to gain a holistic perspective.
In an attempt to create efficient
processes and increase flexibility, Business Owners and Project Managers have
now become well versed with these methodologies and the benefits associated
What is Kanban?
The word Kanban roughly
translates to Signboards or Billboards in Japanese. It is a branch of Lean
methodology that was created by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota.
The system aimed at maximising efficiency through the ‘pull’ approach (supply
based on demand as opposed to producing goods and ‘pushing’ them into the
market) to achieve Just in Time (or JIT).
Kanban relies on visualisation
to segment and track the status of workflows across stages. A typical Kanban
board, in its most primitive form, essentially breaks workflows into three columns
– ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, and ‘Done’. This way, project managers and business owners
are kept aware of the status of tasks and can track them from start to finish.
What Business Processes stand
Businesses processes are seldom
as simple as an assembly line. Several collaborators and teams working on
various elements concurrently. With Kanban, business processes are
broken down into tasks following a linear workflow and followed through to completion.
Here are three ways your business process can benefit from implementing Kanban.
A unified vision
Kanban helps project
managers focus on a singular vision and work towards it. Team members are
encouraged to build and identify a shared understanding of the problem and how
to solve it. The strive to achieve sustained improvement is achieved through
collaboration. Moreover, decisions are made purely through collective
Limiting ‘Work in Progress’
limits the number of items in the ‘Work in Progress’ or WIP stage. This way, teams
limit initiating new tasks in favour of completing tasks in the pipeline.
Taking this approach has several advantages. For one, it greatly reduces
redundancies and inefficiencies. It ensures that tasks are only pushed forward
when the subsequent columns on the Kanban board can accommodate them.
Moving away from micro-management
One of the biggest challenges
that Kanban solves is the identification of roadblocks, enabling the
smooth flow of tasks through the process. Micro-management is often seen as a
counterproductive practice and can prove detrimental to how businesses
function. With Kanban, Project Managers can focus on pushing through
tasks to completion rather than keeping employees engaged through the day. This
way, the emphasis lies in creating and delivering value while reducing delays
and the costs associated with it.
Kanban fosters continuous
improvements in the process to facilitate a more efficient flow of tasks
through the process. Repeatability and consistency must be enforced to get the
most out of this system. Learn about how we, at Boombirds, have created a cutting-edge Kanban-inspired
workflow management system for business processes, field services, transport
logistics, and retail logistics.