Kanban is a project management approach for almost any step-by-step process to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and help a company improve.
Although Kanban was developed in the 1940s and 1950s to boost manufacturing efficiency in Toyota's factories in Japan, the system has been adapted to many industries, including software development, manufacturing and marketing. publishing and retail.
Kanban is particularly effective for continuous delivery workflows, such as content marketing and inventory management, as it can "pull" work through a process.
A system & # 39; pull & # 39;
To understand how Kanban works, imagine a Toyota manufacturing plant in the 1950s that manufactures auto parts.
At the time, the manufacturing processes were aimed at "pushing" the parts as quickly as possible. The machines have been optimized to produce. Employees at the time may have been paid "by the piece", which meant that their income depended on the number of coins they made per hour.
Optimizing the manufacturing output seems like a good idea until you realize that not all auto parts have the same level of complexity or do not require the same time. At one machine, a worker is stamping 50 exhaust manifolds per hour. Another station produces only five carburetors per hour.
To solve this production problem and related concerns, Toyota engineers began to study grocery stores.
How was it that every time you walked the local market, the store seemed to be stocked? In Japan, perhaps, you have always found rice, seaweed paper and fish. In the United States, the local grocer always had milk, eggs and bread.
Toyota discovered that grocery stores used visual cues to "pull" inventory during the process rather than focusing on "push" units.
Imagine the egg cooler in your local supermarket. He probably has several dozen eggs organized in stacks by size and supplier.
When you take a carton, you create an empty slot on the stack. This space is a visual indication that the inventory will need to be filled.
Later, a store employee sees the tail and retrieves the eggs in a cooler at the back of the store. Maybe it was a good day and the store sold an entire box of eggs.
That evening, another store employee checks the egg inventory and sees that there has been a whole box. This employee orders another box of eggs to be delivered the next day.
The purchase of eggs by a consumer helped to pull eggs through the inventory process. It's just the opposite of what Toyota did before Kanban. Instead of waiting for a customer to "pull" auto parts throughout the process, he was simply doing things. It would be like an employee of a grocery store stacking eggs on the ceiling, no matter the sales.
Visual cues and "pulling" have become an important part of Toyota's light manufacturing process and its "just in time" approach to building cars. This approach has helped Toyota become the world's largest automaker.
Paintings, Lists, Cards
Toyota could not necessarily rely on a car salesman to replenish, say, coupes. Instead, he created a system of boards, production lines (or lists) and maps.
- Boards contain or encapsulate a project or workflow.
- The lists contain and often give priority to cards that share a similar status or attribute.
- Cards describe the task, including related information or support.
At its most basic level, a Kanban board can have as few as three lists. These lists can be labeled "do", "do", "done" – or "task", "in progress" and "completed". But the idea is that there are at least three statuses describing the three basic phases in which a task goes through.
A typical Kanban board for a marketing or business project should include several lists. For example, a marketing project may have listings for:
- Backlogged items being brainstormed or that are not yet ready to be the subject of a job.
- Tasks on which one can work. The highest priority task should be at the top of the list.
- Ongoing is where the cards go once the work has begun.
- In the journal there is the stage where the tasks are examined, approved or referred to "in progress" for further work.
- Finished is the status of the cards when the work is completed, but the task, such as a Pandora campaign, has not taken place yet.
Think of lists on the right side of the board as vacuum cleaners. When they are empty or when there are few cards in these lists they "pull" items from the list on their left. The list "Done" therefore wants to extract elements from the list "In revision". The "In Review" list wants to extract from the "In Progress" list, and so on.
When a marketer becomes available, she takes responsibility for the item at the top of the "Tasks" list and places it in the "In Progress" list. Once one of her cards has made the trip to "Done", she starts again at "Tasks".
An owner or project manager moves cards from the Completed list to an archive when the marketing task is complete and moves the cards from the backlog to the tasks as soon as they are ready for the job.
A specific task
Each Kanban card has all the information a worker would need to perform a task and may even include subtasks in the form of a checklist.
Maps are also a place for collaboration because many "members" of the map can exchange comments, make suggestions, or help complete checklists.
As e-commerce and retail businesses grow, they are also developing more complex processes.
To cope with this complexity, an enterprise will have to adopt some form of project and task management. The Kanban system is an approach. This can help organize these processes.