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Monday, 28 May 2012

Kanban Board for Agile Projects

In agile projects it’s common practice to visualize and project status in white board of the project war room.
The lean management in the production industry also uses this kind of practice.
“Kanban” in Japanese means, loosely translated card or sign. The kanban boards used to view the three point’s time task and team so that the whole team understands the current status of the project and work n an autonomous, motivated and collaborative manner.

Need of the Kanban Board:
The scrum team using the backlog or iteration plan which have following difficulties:
Lack of transparence: Only the Scrum Master has access to that list, and even to him that list is not visible all the time.
Lack of participation: The Development Team can’t participate in the almost secret list. No self-organization is encouraged. The Scrum Master has to delegate items if he wants others to participate.
Lack of structure: An unordered list gives no direction on which item to work next.
The Kanban Board helps to short out the above listed problems.

“Three view point” Knaban Board:
1. Time:
In agile projects the duration is calculated based on releases and each releases are  broken down to iterations and each iterations are broken down to daily tasks.
The releases are basically from 1 to 6 month long and time boxed. The release is planed with common understanding adjustable based on business demand.
The iteration plan defines the scope as a team. It clearly defines what needs to be done in the release and the commitment from the team to complete the iteration successfully.
The iteration is broken down to daily tasks and taken by the team as “pull” and not assigned to the team as “push”.

2. Task:
There are also three levels of granularity for Tasks. The top level is “Features” and each feature is broken down into “Stories”, and each story into the lowest level “Tasks”.
A Feature is a function useful and meaningful to users.
A Story is a testable piece of a Feature, also described in the words of users.
And a Task is a work unit of a Story, commonly described in terms used by developers.
3. Team:
A project team consists of people working toward the same goal. Typically, a manager, customers, developers, business analysts, users, testers and other stakeholders should be members of the team. The whole team should share information on time and tasks to achieve the project goal.
The kanban chart is mapping the above three point. I have explained it in the coming sections.

Steps to create Kanban Board:
1. Define a work process flow which contains the steps of goals, features, development, testing and deployment. The steps will vary from project to project. Use the typical flow of the feature, stories and tasks to define the flow.
2. Lay out the visual Kanban board with the steps defined in the step (1). You can maintain the kanban board for each iteration as this will reduce the confusion of maintaining lot of tasks in the board.
3. Place the prioritized goals or feature in the left column of the board.
4. Start pacing tasks in the board in the appropriate section.
5. Move the tasks through the process flow defined in the step (1) as work is completed.
6. Use the date and resources on the cards to track and calculate the cycle time
7. Limiting the number of tasks in the “To do” or “In Progress” section based on the team velocity.
8. Track the blocking tasks in the separate section and track to closure.

Advantages of Kanban Board:
1. Optimize and reduce the obstacles
2. Reduce the time waste
3. Provide the flexibility
4. Increases the output
5. Provide good control on the iteration execution
6. Delivers the customer demand
7. Limit the work in progress tasks


  1. One of the criteria for selecting an agile tool in terms of Kanban or Scrum can be the time required. One of these methodology works well when there is shortage of time in terms of deadlines; the other one works well in situations where more time is required to carry out tasks when a diminutive iteration cannot satisfy the work.

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