Kanban

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of discussions on Kanban. For those of you who, like me, want to know what all that fuss is about, I collected a couple of links that I will try to merge into a coherent whole below.

So what exactly is Kanban? Literally, it means “visual card”, but that’s not very helpful. This introduction explains that Kanban revolves around a board that visualizes the software development flow.

In fact, flow is a very important concept here. Kanban is a pull system, in which Minimal Marketable Features (MMFs) flow through the development stages when there is capacity available. This contrasts with most Agile methods that push work items into iterations. Also, note that for most Agile methods, those work items (e.g. User Stories) would be smaller than MMFs.

The other big point is that Kanban limits Work In Progress (i.e. the number of MMFs per development stage). This naturally exposes the bottleneck(s) in the flow.
Kanban limits WIP

This leads us nicely to the main reason to use Kanban: to improve your software development process. Other Agile methods deal with process improvement as well, but Kanban is different from e.g. Scrum.

So, if all this sounds cool and you want to give Kanban a shot, then apparently this is how you should get started. If you do, then you may see these effects. Also, make sure to get into a Kanban state of mind.

Update: here is a great compilation of Kanban resources.

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