Once in 1959 Toyota company started experimenting with the Kanban system, based on the principle of “just-in-time” production. That was the beginning of a nowadays commonly used tool in project management. In Japanese Kanban means signboard or billboard. That was the board workers put cards on. On those cards, they indicated either the work that had been performed or the product that was in demand. Therefore, the supply of the products on demand was happening right at the moment it was needed, preventing superfluous storage.
The principles of Kanban boards used nowadays in software development are very similar. Generally, there is a table with three columns:
- To-do for the tasks on the waiting list
- Doing for the ones in progress
- Done for the completed tasks
Additional functionality of the Kanban solutions includes adding and dragging cards with tasks, commenting on tasks, as well as allocating resources. Also, there may be a possibility to create, save, and share reports. A worthy tool should be easily integrated into any environment. For instance, the Kanban board from the Webix UI library has the following features:
- adding cards with a single click
- editing cards
- commenting tasks
- viewing the tasks of a selected user
- expanding/collapsing columns
- compact view mode
The functionality mentioned makes Kanban a desirable tool for both team leads and team members. With the help of such a board, it is easy to see what is required to be done, which of the tasks are more urgent, and to estimate the whole progress of the team. Let’s look at the practical cases of applying such a convenient solution.
We will start from the obvious sphere where Kanban boards can be used, which is project management. Clicking the link above, you can read the showcase with Johen, he is an experienced developer from Germany who creates various types of applications for his customers. One of the projects was an app for the implementation of the tasks and projects within a company. Kanban makes the app very functional and efficient. Kanban allows each project to contain related documents in Word or Excel, as well as Powerpoint presentations, and to integrate with OneNote.
Kanban can also be successfully used in a CRM system. Robin Fisk is the developer of such a system. The system helps charities and other nonprofit organizations manage their fundraising activities. The system is used by around 600 organizations. The Kanban board inside the system assists in tracking the deals between investors and nonprofit organizations. As a developer, Robin prefers using ready-made components to developing them from scratch. The Kanban solution was the one he was looking for for the means of visualization.
This is the showcase of applying Kanban as an effective way of cooperation. Two developers from the Netherlands launched their digital solution for teams cooperation. With the help of their ERP system, teams get connected, they can attract external subcontractors, and cooperate sharing mutual goals and tools. This is particularly relevant in working from home conditions. Corona pandemic has forced us all to work from home and with tools like Kanban, we can do it effectively.
Another business domain which can benefit from the Kanban board solution is food service. A sad consequence of the Covid-19 is vast staff reduction in businesses. What was once done by several people is now performed by one person and smart software. This is the situation that happened with Doug Averch. He is now the only developer in the company providing software for food services. His project offers the following functions: dispatching, driver scheduling, driver incentive payroll, warehouse employee administration. For example, drivers can use the mobile version of the app to make any PTO requests or see their manifests and schedule. The system is based on the principle of card adding.
We have touched upon small businesses that can efficiently use Kanban for their purposes. Now let’s move to giants. Vössing Engineering is a leading firm in consultancy, planning, project management, and construction supervision in Germany. It operates in more than 20 locations, has a staff of over 600 employees, and has a history of 40 years. They also use Kanban solutions in their ERP system as a supply chain tool to order the workplace machines from a preferred supplier. The approved order for the new device creates a new card in the Kanban board moving from left to right along the process, from order to production, to delivery, to operation.
We have comprised the overview of real practical cases of exploiting the Kanban board in business applications. However, the spheres that benefit from this handy solution are not limited to this list. Visualization of the tasks and processes facilitates any work, so you can think about the Kanban board from the perspective of your particular solution.