In the old days, the Kanban system was used mainly for development projects; that is certainly not the case today. Every department, from engineering to marketing, can turn to the Kanban system and its implementation to adopt a more agile workflow.
The Kanban boards we know today are also a lot more flexible than the traditional Kanban board. Since Kanban boards are now running in the cloud, they can be far more customizable. They can also be integrated with other project management tools and methodologies.
If you are an avid Kanban user and you want to be better at managing projects and tasks, you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to talk about the top nine project management tips you can immediately implement to improve your use of Kanban boards. Let’s get started!
1. Expectations First, Goals Later
Ask any project management expert about how to best start a new project and setting project objectives will always be the first step recommended. There is nothing wrong with setting clear objectives for the project, but that isn’t necessarily the first thing you want to do.
Before you can set specific objectives, you need to understand the requirements for that project. After going through what is expected from the project outcome, you can better define the objectives to achieve. In fact, you can plan every detail of the project more accurately.
2. Adopt the Right Tools
Laying a strong foundation for good project management is another thing you want to do early in the game. This means choosing the right tool for managing your projects and configuring a suitable workflow for your projects.
We already know that Kanban is the methodology to use, so the only thing to worry about is deciding which Kanban tool to use. Kanbanize with its features and the possibility to create various team boards is one of the best Kanban tools on the market. It is designed to be as flexible as it can be while maintaining its capabilities.
3. Customize Your Kanban Boards
You don’t always have to conform to the traditional Kanban board design for your projects. If you need more than three phases or you want to be more meticulous with how you organize your tasks, you can freely customize the boards you use to better suit those needs.
Adding extra steps or removing the ones you don’t need is easy. You can borrow from existing templates or utilize designs already implemented by other teams. You can also use unconventional approaches, including using the board to manage a smaller team by listing their names directly.
4. Integrate Communications
Tools like Kanbanize are favored by the best project managers for their extensive integration options. Rather than using different tools to manage tasks, organize documents, and communicate with other team members, you can use Kanbanize to handle everything within the platform.
Integration is a big part of today’s implementation of the Kanban method. In fact, there are third-party services that expand the integration options of the best Kanban tools. These third-party services automate mundane tasks such as moving data from a spreadsheet to the board.
5. Spot Bottlenecks Early
The visual nature of Kanban boards makes it easy for teams to spot potential bottlenecks early, but you cannot expect the signs of a possible bottleneck to appear out of nowhere. You still have to actively track the right metrics, including cycle time and volume.
Tracking the right metrics helps expose possible issues early too, but the board – and the cards – need to be set up correctly. Without deadlines, dependencies, and other features used properly, it is nearly impossible to spot these potential issues and integrate accurate tracking.
6. Use Gantt
The visualization of task on the team boards is good enough for most projects, but it is far from the only way you can keep track of tasks in hand. Another visualization that is also useful is the Gantt chart. When tasks are attached to deadlines, a Gantt chart gives you a better perspective of them.
You will see the lead time of each task displayed clearly on the Gantt chart, complete with deadlines to meet and the completion rate at any given point. When longer tasks aren’t progressing the way they should, you can also make corrections to the way those tasks are handled.
When you do run into issues with tasks or projects, it is time to step away from the Kanban board and listen. Talk to the team members handling those tasks early and understand the issues they face in a more in-depth way. The only way you can solve issues in projects is by understanding them completely.
The Kanban boards give you access to the big picture, but not necessarily the intricate details of each task. To dig deep into these details, you need to listen to your team members and stakeholders. Gather enough data and discuss possible solutions before making any changes.
8. Be a Team Player
Another way to solve issues, especially those related to bottlenecks, is by being a better team player. Yes, you have your own tasks to worry about, but that doesn’t mean you cannot tackle others’ tasks when you have the time and resources to do so.
That’s the beauty of the Kanban system. You always know what others are doing within the same project, which means you can help them when they need help the most. Rather than letting issues materialize and affect the project, you can prevent them early.
9. Revert Back to Expectations
That brings us full circle to the first tip in this article: manage expectations. At some point during the project, you may have to reiterate on the project objectives and the expectations of your client or user. The use of Kanban simply makes the cycle easier to handle.
Now that you have these top nine tips in mind, there is nothing you cannot handle when using the Kanban methodology to organize projects. No matter how complex the tasks may be, you always have the tools you need to handle them like a project management master.