Kanban, like other agile practices, is intended to help teams visualize their process, and to find problems that were hidden until before. Compared to other agile frameworks it offers greater flexibility and variability. However, this flexibility requires greater understanding of the underlying values in order for the implementation to be successful. We like to say that practicing Kanban is like "Playing in the Big Boys court"
The program goal is to provide a team with the necessary understanding, knowledge, training, and guidance in implementing a process using Kanban. In a fairly short transition period we expect teams undergoing this program to dive into the process and start becoming a learning entity which should result in an increase of their productivity, focus and cooperation. The program covers multiple aspects of the organization at various levels and will supply each stake holder with the necessary tools and guidelines to fit into the Kanban process and practices.
The Implementation program consists of the following stages
Stage one - Investigation
Implementing Kanban process is initiated in order to improve on crucial business aspects, typically relating to short time to market or service level agreement and frequent changes in business requirements. This involves significant organizational changes and, as such, support from the highest levels is paramount. Before starting such a process it is advised that the goals and targets of the transition will be clearly defined and agreed in the organization. In the investigation we shall work with management to define the specific needs from the Implementation while starting to create the necessary mindset to absorb the change.
Stage Two – Visualizing the Flow
A lean organization continuously examines the process flow, identifies wastes in the process, and improves on them.
During this phase the as-is process will be identified and visualized on a Kanban board. During this period the necessary training, guidance and support will be given to the team.
Preparation for the change may include:
- Identifying and choosing the boundaries of the process
- Lean and Kanban training for all the team members and their ecosystem
- Mapping out the as-is process
- Identifying major wastes and rework in the as-is process
- Identifying and choosing of the Cadence
- Creation of an initial Product backlog
- Identifying variations from the defined process (such as dealing with urgent cases)
At the end of this phase a new organizational language will begin to form, using concepts learned in training and in practice. Empirical data from using this new knowledge will begin to emerge, making opportunity better visualization of the process and for experimentation towards improving it.
Stage three – Work in Pull mode
Seeing in the customers' eyes in enabled by examining the process through its output; this requires focusing on getting working software (or other artifacts), and working the process backwards. For most organizations this is a paradigm shift from the traditional 'conveyer belt' mode. During this phase teams will:
- Identify their limits and learn to honor them
- Identify bottlenecks and learn to alleviate them
- Practice identifying the most painful wastes, and fix them
- Learn new measurements and how to use them for improving
This phase typically spans 3-4 cadences, during which teams will get support from a coach on various aspects, from effectively conducting daily meetings, through grooming the backlog and understanding charts such as CFD and Cycle-time SPC.
Stage four - Review & Improvement
A typical agile transition and Kanban is no different, will surface organizational dysfunctions, typically very quickly. In order to improve and resolve these dysfunctions, we use agile principles and techniques to embrace an inspect-and-adapt mode, turning the organization into a learning one. At the end of the program we shall conduct a full review by an experienced Agile Coach in order locate and suggest ways how to resolve these dysfunctions, without harming the overall goals of the transition.
The above is a rough guideline and each organization has different culture and context which may impact the timeline and the outline of this description.
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