If you work in a business environment where work items are ever-evolving, haphazard, and unruly, a Kanban board can save the day for you. It makes managing tasks as easy as shuffling solitaire cards by making everything visual and comprehensive.
But Kanban’s capabilities go beyond logical task tracking. They can be used to build end-to-end business workflows that streamline the lifecycle of a work task. You can split the task into stages, assign stakeholders and ensure deliverability.
Why do you need a Kanban Board for your business workflow?
Following are a few points that elucidate more on the benefits of a Kanban Board.
Visually Interpret Everything
When visual clues are involved, our brains respond faster. The same principle is used in Kanban Boards wherein task items are arranged in visual columns and cards. Unlike tiny Excel cells, Kanban cards make it easier to consume information at one glance and reduce cognitive load.
Whether a task is progressing correctly or needs attention – you won’t have to squint your eyes to figure that out. It’s all laid out clearly.
A Kanban Board works for the entire team. Members can check the status of tasks from one source of truth which eliminates too many follow-ups or status checks. They can mark comments and add updates directly to the Kanban cards because everyone has uniform access to them. This largely reduces the collaboration struggle, streamlining the team’s ability to work together.
Prioritize On the Fly
It’s a well-known fact that work items undergo several changes in priority. But priorities only work when they’re evenly communicated to the team. A Kanban Board clearly lays down the priority rankings of tasks so that only the important tasks are picked first. This improves the task completion efficiency of teams while keeping everyone informed of what order to follow while checking off tasks.
Break Down Work into Manageable Items
Managers can break down project tasks into quantifiable Kanban cards that don’t exceed a given limit. This ensures that the team doesn’t have too much on their plate and everyone has a definitive work item. As tasks get completed, new ones are methodically added to the board, which keeps the team workflow busy but never overstuffed.
5 Steps to Design the Best Kanban Workflow For Your Business
Kanban workflows are flexible enough to accommodate complex business processes and unique use cases. But designing a workflow intuitive and effective enough is an art that needs mastering. If you’re new to Kanban workflows, the following steps will help you get started with ease.
Step 1: Signup for a Kanban Tool
While you can pretty much make a Kanban Board out of an empty wall and some sticky notes, it’s better to go for a digital Kanban project management software tool. You’ll get a visual interface that is quite handy to work with and is easily accessible on multiple devices.
Here are the top choices for a Kanban Software Tool:
Kanban Zone is a powerful software tool that helps managers build intelligible Kanban Boards. The entire business workflow can be traced using Kanban Zone’s flexible features that include portfolios, metrics, and team collaboration.
The tool goes one step ahead to offer custom fields and card linking that are useful in building complex business workflows on Kanban. Businesses can streamline their daily processes and ensure that work items are executed with immaculate tracking. The software works on web browsers as a SaaS app, as well as, a desktop app on macOS, Windows, and Linux.
There are three variations to Kanban Zone – personal, startup, and enterprise, all of which meet the targetted organizational needs.
ProofHub is a team collaboration software that offers nifty Kanban boards for task tracking. Managers can define a custom workflow for each project for fruitfully organizing the process requirements. The Kanban board can be fully organized into specified stages with stakeholder collaboration for every stage. As the tasks move through stages, everyone is notified via instant notifications.
The app also offers additional work management tools such as team calendars, file storage, and team chat in one unified space. For business and project intelligence, you can also generate detailed reports formulated using Kanban board data.
Trello is one of the pioneers of Kanban. It offers a highly-flexible interface for converting any business process or workflow into a workable Kanban board. It follows a neat symmetry of Kanban cards that are extremely configurable. Teams can visually build a solid business workflow using Trello, and enhance their process using add-ons.
The tool suits smaller projects where the scope of the Kanban board isn’t too expansive. For larger projects, Trello might feel stuffy and overwhelming for teams.
Step 2: Identify the Business Function
Kanban boards must represent a segregated business function. This could either be a small business requirement that needs streamlining, such as approving employee leave requests, or a full project with various stages.
It’s necessary to identify the scope of the business function you’re going to use the Kanban board for. Way too complex projects with tens of stages will make the board unmanageable. At the same time, a trivial business aspect will not find fruition on a Kanban board.
Therefore, first, identify what do you wish to use the board for. It’s a good practice to split heavy projects or business processes into multiple boards rather than overstuffing one board. You can always create cross-linkages for better management.
Step 3: Identify the Core Stages of the Workflow
Once you know what your Kanban board will reflect, it’s time to identify the core stages of the workflow. Let’s say you’re making a board for your “Newsletter Design” workflow. Start by writing down all the stages that a newsletter involves before it gets completed.
Your list would look something like this:
- Campaign Idea
- Newsletter Content
- HTML Design
- List Uploading
- Test Fire Emails
- Ready for Release
- Campaign Complete
The above process has 8 stages that the newsletter would pass through. On careful inspection, we can consolidate “Test Fire Emails” into the “Review” stage as it would be taken care of by the same stakeholder.
So, now we have a workflow with 7 stages that will help us manage all the newsletter campaigns being executed by the marketing team. The core stages we have identified are susceptible to change. You can add more stages if deemed important or remove stages that feel redundant.
Step 4: Organize Your Team Members
The workflow stages are ready, it’s time to assign these stages to relevant stakeholders. As evident, a Kanban workflow acts like an assembly line wherein each assigned person executes their responsibility and the line moves forward.
Similarly, you’ll assign stakeholders to each stage of the workflow to get the conveyor belt moving. Let’s see how this can be done.
- Campaign Idea – Marketing Strategist
- Newsletter Content – Content Writer
- HTML Design – Web Designer
- List Uploading – Marketing Executive
- Review – Marketing Strategist/Project Manager
- Ready for Release – Marketing Executive
- Campaign Complete – Marketing Executive
We have organized Marketing Strategists, Executives, Web Designers, Content Writers, and Project Manager into our workflow. They’ve definite spots to fill in and everyone is made aware when it’s their turn to act. This way, the whole workflows moves like well-oiled machinery.
Step 5: Run the Workflow and Reiterate
The last task will be to test the efficiency of the workflow. The best way to do this is by checking if the business or project goals are being met. You can record the time it takes to move through the entire workflow and see if it’s feasible for your business.
If it’s taking too long, cut down on the stages and reiterate the workflow. You may have to go through a few rounds of interactions before you finally get a well-performing workflow. It’s important to iterate in order to let the workflow adapt to the team, rather than the other way around.
The prowess of Kanban boards and workflows is being recognized by several industries now. Earlier, it was only software teams or production lines that used Kanban boards but now, all kinds of businesses are trying their luck with it. The modern Kanban software tools make the process a lot more intuitive and user-friendly while increasing the flexibility of the boards.
Follow the steps advised in this article to create a high-performing workflow and see your projects flourishing with productivity.