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CMO Guide to: Making Team Workflow More Transparent with Kanban

Wojciech Idzikowski - 12 January 2018 - 0 comments

Transparency may seem to be another buzzword in the business world, but it’s way more than that.

Transparency is the driver of team performance. Many workflows these days are considered to be transparent, but sharing project information with stakeholders and partners doesn’t really qualify as transparency.

Real transparency always goes from top to bottom, ensuring that everyone remains on the same page and each team member is working hard toward a common goal. Most importantly, transparency can only happen with the support of the right tools.

In this article, I’m going to show you:

  • Why transparency is important for team performance,
  • What are the key advantages of transparent team workflows,
  • Essential tips to help you make your workflow transparent following the Kanban method.

Why transparency?

Transparency means that all stakeholders in the project remain in open dialogue, exchanging information they not only want to hear, but need to. And that starts at the level of leadership.

Teams that fail to implement transparency will face serious problems:

  • Withdrawal of stakeholders – even though stakeholders may have been excited about the project when it started, lack of transparency will cause them to withdraw. They won’t answer questions or check in on results. That’s why it pays to keep all communication channels open to receive feedback and engage stakeholders in a transparent work environment.
  • Small errors will impact progress – you may assume that the problem is obvious and it will be fixed along the way. But you may be wrong. If you spot a problem that has a simple solution, fix it as soon as you can and update your team. You never know whether it could sneak through unnoticed and cause disruptions in final stages.
  • Poor team performance – in teams where workflows aren’t transparent, it’s common that the entire team is overworked, always rushing to fix errors that were never brought to light in previous phases. That type of daily reworking only adds a layer of risk to the project. Plus, a team that works overtime is not happy team.
  • Missing deadlines – everyone involved in the project should have a clear idea about its critical path. Even small issues can hold up a project in its final stages. That’s why it’s key to outline the critical path at the beginning of the project to ensure that the most important deliverables will be addressed before the project enters the next stage. Otherwise, your team will devote too much time to reworking a problem that grew from in an issue that wasn’t addressed previously.
  • Workflows that aren’t transparent are messy – as the project grows and becomes more complex, it’s easy to lose ownership of data. And when your team members don’t know where information is coming from, you might have to deal with lost priorities, conflicting critical tasks, or problems in divided attention. That’s why it’s smart to automate reports and updates to take that task off your plate and ensure that the right parties get the information they need at the right time.

It’s hard for teams to operate in an opaque work environment.

Workflows that are not transparent often cause project delays, information confusion, and trust reduction for all parties involved in the project.

Advantages of a transparent team workflow

When you address that problem and open the floor for better communication, you will see that a transparent workflow will take your team to the next level.

Here are some key advantages of a transparent workflow that helps teams to become more agile and productive:

  • Your team will have a sense of ownership, accountability, and responsibility of every task;
  • There will be fewer bad surprises in later stages of your project;
  • Your projects will enjoy buy-in from stakeholders at every level;
  • Transparency will build a healthier work environment that promotes respect and trust.

As a result, your team will increase its productivity and boost its performance to meet your critical goals more efficiently.

How to make your workflow more transparent?

Now that you know why creating a transparent workflow will help your team skyrocket its productivity, here are some tips to help you implement transparency at your organization:

  • Make company goals transparent. communicate them clearly to every team member involved in the project. The more everyone knows, the better they will work in a team. Present team goals in combination with company vision to help your team better understand how their work contributes to the overall company objectives. Pointing to the bigger picture will help you reinvigorate your team on projects that may have been lagging due to low motivation.
  • Make transparency a must for everyone in the organization. Beginning with the CEO down, implement transparency throughout the entire company to stop focusing on individuals and start emphasizing teamwork. Make yourself available and transparent as well. You can bet that your team members will be inspired to be open and transparent with you in exchange.
  • Implementing transparency is mostly about communication. Encourage team members to share their opinions and feedback and do the same yourself. Listen to your team members and advocate for great ideas shared by others. Organize brainstorming sessions where your team gets to discuss different solutions to problems and attack them instantly.

And most importantly:

Use the Kanban method

Implementing the right software can make a huge difference in your team communication and collaboration.

Atlassian’s flagship product, Jira Software, is a tool that allows teams to share information easily, work on projects together, and see the project’s progress thanks to sophisticated built-in reporting features.

One of the best ways to implement transparency in a team is using the Kanban board method.

Kanban is based on visualizing daily or weekly workflows to help teams see all items that need to be completed during a given period of time next to each other, to provide context.

The idea behind Kanban is limiting the amount of work in progress.

Kanban helps teams to avoid starting and committing to an overwhelming number of tasks at the same time. As a result, Kanban enhances the workflow – when something is finished, you team can pick the next task located on top of the Backlog and place it in the workflow.

The key benefits of Kanban are:

  • Higher responsiveness to change;
  • Shorter work cycle that delivers faster;
  • Reduction of tasks that don’t add value to the organization;
  • Rapid feedback loops that boost team motivation and empowerment.

Using Kanban boards in Jira, you’ll be able to visualize all the tasks to be completed by your team in a given time period, boosting the transparency of your workflow and helping team members become more aware of what their teammates are doing and what is the overall progress of the project.

Have you got any questions about using Kanban boards to build a high-performing team?

Leave a comment below, I’m always happy to help organizations make the most of teamwork.

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