What is Kanban in Software Development?
Let’s start by answering the question: What is Kanban Agile development?
Kanban development is a highly visual lean Agile methodology that focuses on just-in-time delivery while closely monitoring functionality and managing the amount of work in progress (WIP). This approach is incremental rather than iterative. Kanban is about evolution, not revolution. When using Kanban for software development, you develop your product in one Kanban software development life cycle (SDLC). This approach is also a great example of the Agile methodology as it references the twelve principles mentioned in the Agile manifesto.
Kanban is a scheduling system for lean and other JIT processes, where physical or virtual cards move through the process from start to finish ensuring a constant and consistent workflow. In software development, Kanban is used to control and efficiently manage the flow of features (represented by Kanban cards) under development. The stages in the SDLC are used to represent the different stages in the manufacturing process, and the number of features entering the process should match the completed ones.
Kanban for software development is widely implemented by many development teams as this method lets team members see the work that needs to be done, the work that is in progress, and the completed work. It also helps measure the success rate of your workflow and improve it. Development teams use Kanban metrics and boards to track tasks and their status as they allow for:
- A visual representation of the progress made on projects – the abstract, invisible work regarding product development is transformed into understandable and easy-to-use visuals.
- Ability to create and assign subtasks within a project – development teams use Kanban boards to track tasks and their status and keep everyone involved informed while providing a simple overview of the project’s progress. These boards usually consist of several separate columns that the team members can use to move relevant tasks from one column to another depending on the work progress.
- A place for discussing your projects, identifying bottlenecks, problem-solving, and brainstorming. Geographically distributed teams that work on one product visualize their workflow using specific project management tools.
With the Kanban software development life cycle, you can effectively manage your project and allocate resources even if you have to involve additional staff at some point. As a well-known IT business partner and change agent, Cprime has developed the best staff augmentation practices. If you need help with your Kanban project, we can offer managed teams or the staff required to make your development smooth and fast.
Basic Principles of Kanban for Software Development: How it Works
There are four fundamental principles of the Kanban method for developer teams that improve the overall process:
Visualization provides managed teams with a shared overview of the Kanban Agile software development process. Making the work visible – along with all workflow issues, such as blockers, bottlenecks and queues – instantly leads to increased communication and collaboration between employees and across teams involved in Kanban Agile development, especially if your company involves staff augmentation options. A typical practice is to apply a board that visualizes specific work phases. In software development, Kanban board examples include four columns: Backlog, To Do, In Progress and Done.
Limit Work in Progress (WIP)
This principle is probably most associated with Kanban development for Agile teams. The main goal of providing WIP limits is to ensure that your developers never start or complete tasks they cannot pass smoothly onto the next phase. Thus, you can avoid problems caused by task switching and reduce the need to constantly re-prioritize items. Also, it is possible to limit the amount of WIP in terms of stage, person, and work item type.
Focus on Flow
After applying Kanban for software development, you should provide workflow control and optimization. This goal is reached while using WIP limits and developing team-driven policies. Your project must move through the pipeline uninterrupted and streamlined end-to-end delivery and all the steps between. You can optimize your Kanban system to improve the workflow, collect metrics to analyze flow and process efficiency, and get insights on future problems based on the flow of work analysis.
Having your Kanban system in place, you can provide your company with a culture of continuous improvement. Agile project management with Kanban allows developer teams to measure their effectiveness by tracking flow, quality, throughput, lead times and more. Looking for ways to improve is at the heart of the Kanban method. No process is regarded as a finished one, and various Kanban metrics and analysis can give you insights to improve the team efficiency.
Benefits of Kanban for Software Development
The key Kanban advantages for development teams that use Kanban for software development are:
1. An Easy-to-Use System Providing a Panoramic View of the Process
Virtual Kanban boards help by visualizing the process, so you can see who is busy on the project, who is idle, what tasks are in the pipeline, and what tasks show signs of problems. Even if your teams are geographically dispersed and work in a virtual environment, Kanban can track tasks and statuses and have a simple overview of work in progress.
2. Easier Changes
Visualization of workflow allows team members to understand the work progress. All team members can see the pipeline and uncover deficiencies or find room for improvement. Kanban allows teams to make more flexible decisions that facilitate changes and move projects forward with efficiency and innovation.
3. Improving Efficiency and Productivity
Kanban brings focus to continuous delivery. By constantly limiting the number of elements in the work-in-progress area and reducing the effects of bottlenecks, teams become more productive.
4. Workflow Management
Using Kanban for software development involves monitoring, measuring, and reporting the workflow through all stages in the process. With a Kanban board, project managers can gain valuable insights regarding team performance and realize patterns that limit productivity.
5. Problem Solving and Risk Management
In Agile development, Kanban makes it possible to discuss different issues, problems, or risks objectively. The visual and collaborative approach provides an explicit understanding of how things work and how work is actually done. All team members can make suggestions for further improvement, discuss issues, problems, and risks rationally and share responsibility for moving work across the finish line.
6. Reduced Overhead Costs
You can reduce wasteful overhead costs by optimizing throughput with existing resources and ensuring just-in-time delivery.
7. Collaboration and Experimentation
Applying Agile project management with Kanban promotes changes that are incremental and increase team motivation and improve self-governance. Kanban software development can support best practices of IT development processes such as daily standup meetings since that provides a quick overview regarding tasks, statuses and WIPs, and allows for better resource allocation.
Kanban in software development brings multiple advantages with no need to provide rigid processes or follow formal team guidelines, so it is considered more efficient than many other frameworks. As a tested method in mobile development and embedded development, it demonstrates that the best approach is often the simplest one.
Yet, the Kanban approach alone cannot ensure your project’s success. There are other ingredients, and a well-orchestrated team of professionals is among them. At Cprime, we can offer IT staffing or even find managed teams with significant experience in Kanban development with Jira Agile.
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact us. We are ready to share the knowledge and provide you with the right people and tools to match your business goals.