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What is Kanban Project Management?

Kanban is a term that people hear a lot when it comes to working on projects, but what is Kanban project management? What benefits does the Kanban management style offer for teams? Read on to discover the answers, and more.

What is Kanban: An overview

Kanban is a type of scheduling system that was first popularized by Toyota. The term is the Japanese word for ?billboard,? referring to the physical cards and boards used by the company to signal and keep track of various project processes. Sticky notes:

project management methodology kanban board

The system is designed to increase efficiency by better aligning the flow of inventory supplies with the actual use of materials in the different production stages based on three core principles:

  • Visualizing workflow: Team members should be able to clearly visualize the flow of tasks in relation to each other and the general workflow.
  • Limiting work in progress (WIP): Members should be able to complete tasks faster and lessen the number of tasks placed in WIP status.
  • Enhancing workflow: Teams should divide tasks into smaller chunks to ensure that everything is accomplished correctly. Communication, especially via emails, should be vastly reduced as the information is presented visually.

While Kanban was initially used for manufacturing, it has since become popular for agile software development and other fast-paced projects.

Implementing Kanban

Boards are one of the central tools of a Kanban system. A board is where the series of tasks to be done are displayed for members to see. It is divided into different sections representing a different stage of the project.

At its most basic, a Kanban board typically has the following sections.

  • Waiting tasks
  • Work in progress
  • Completed work

Physical Kanban boards still remain in use for projects being run in one location. However, digital Kanban tools like Trello have gained a lot of popularity.

These online-based boards are useful for remote collaborations among teams members working in different locations.

Kanban cards

Cards are the representations of the various tasks within a Kanban board. They contain all the essential information about a task, such as:

  • Task name and unique ID
  • Task description
  • Estimated duration
  • Sign member

By quickly glancing at the cards, members are able to know which tasks are at hand. The cards can even be color-coded according to the type of task for better identification.

Moving Kanban cards on a board

The position of the cards on the board indicates where on the project workflow the represented tasks are at the moment. As such, members are trained to diligently oversee the movement of the cards for the benefit of the entire team.

The Kanban system is a surprisingly easy project management methodology to learn. Once teams have a clear idea of what is Kanban project management and how it works, they can soon start implementing it for different projects.



Scott Ellis

Scott is a content manager for PMFoo, a free online resource that quickly matches businesses and individuals to their Project Management software needs. He specializes in project management tips, tools, and tricks . On the rare occasion Scott isn't writing, he's reading comic books, playing video games, or cheering the mighty Blue Jays. No, Scott is not a 12 year old boy. He assures us all he is a grown man.