I’ve written about Kanban in the past, but you wouldn’t know it since my WordPress site was wiped clean and I lost all my material. Of course, that just sets the stage for another blog post during this month on ‘How to backup your WordPress site.”
For those that are unfamiliar with Kanban, it’s pretty simple. Kanban is a visual display of work. It’s typically laid out on a board that everyone can see. It’s also broken out into categories that help map out the value stream.
Here is a video that helps explain Kanban
Most Kanban boards have a ‘backlog’ state of items you need to address. A ‘Ready’ state, items that have been pulled in from backlog. A ‘To Do’ state, these are the tasks you are currently working on and finally a ‘Done’ state, where you place completed items.
You can get advanced with your boards like including a ‘waiting for’ state’ with is a helpful reminder to follow up and where you can visualize potential delays.
Visualize your work and limit your (WIP)
I am no expert at Kanban, but at the same time, it’s so simple that anyone can do it. You need to be aware of two rules with Kanban
- Visualize your work
- Limit your work in progress (WIP)
If you can master those two items, I think you are on your way to getting control of the tasks you are facing and being more efficient with your time and energy.
Oh and don’t think limiting your work in progress means that you are doing less work, it helps focus on the work at hand.
I’ve mentioned my setup at home in the past. I used large post-it notes called Big Pads up on the wall. I have two big pads, one which holds my backlog and the other that contains the states of play, for example ready, to do, done and waiting for.
Add each task on the board with smaller post-it notes and pull them along to the different category.
Trello is made for Kanban
Now that was then, in today’s world software is king. I’ve transitioned to using some very cool tools online. At the moment my favorite tool for Kanban is Trello.
Trello has impressed me with how easy it is to use; the capabilities included in the product and how it stays in sync across all of my devices.
Trello is free so give it a try I think you’ll like it and there are tons of YouTube video to help you get started and find out how others are using it to be effective.
Power-Ups boost the power of Trello
Trello also have what they call Power-Ups which are essentially integrations with other platforms. This is where you can really extend the power of Trello. One in particular I am interested in trying is the Burndown charts. These are typically used in sprint tracking but can help provide insights on backlog.
There are other software products and two that are top of mind, and you might find useful are LearnKit, Microsoft Planner and Kanbanize.
I want to highlight a recent entry into this space. I think it speaks to this growing market and that’s Microsoft Planner. It’s part of the Office 365 subscription if you have the following plans Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5, Business Essentials, Premium and Education subscription plans.
I would say it’s still ‘early days’ with Microsoft Planner. I’m sure they have a roadmap of features that they will be pushing out. I’m for one who is looking forward to that, especially a mobile app.
I encourage you to try out the products I mentioned. If you already use anyone of these products, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.