Agile continues to be a buzzword among project managers who are looking for new ways to organize their projects and teams. But agile is a set of methodologies that all differ from one another and require completely different tools for support.
In this article, I wanted to take a closer look at a core method which is part of agile: Kanban. Read on to find out what Kanban is all about and how to implement it in your team with Jira Software.
What is Kanban?
Continuous releases is the basic idea behind Kanban. Project managers can achieve it by tracking work on boards that display the statuses of tasks in columns and lanes. Kanban offers four critical areas to help teams deliver work: continuous releases, work in progress limits, the list of work, and columns and lines.
Jira Software contains several out-of-the-box tools that help to run Kanban in a team. Using Jira Software, you can set up a Kanban board using one of the default workflows and start adding issues immediately. Once your team becomes familiar with the board, you can begin customizing your project, workflow, and issue types to match their needs. Here are a couple of Kanban features you need to keep in mind when designing your boards.
The function of boards
They offer full transparency about the work being done in your team. I talk more about transparency in this article. Each team member can see what everyone is working on and when one item is completed, they can quickly move on to another.
In the past, Kanban boards would take the form of a physical board with Post-it notes or cards that represented the work items. However, you can take advantage of virtual Kanban boards that make work so much easier.
Jira Software includes such a feature and allows modifying elements of the board endlessly. You can include different details for each work item and display only the most essential information on the board itself.
Detailed story cards display essential information for every story, issue, or bug your team is tracking. By clicking on the issue, team members can get all the details of the task, including pull requests, comments, attachments, priority, or even source code.
Define and configure workflows
You can set up different workflows for different issue types or connect all issue types on your board to one unified workflow. In Jira, workflows can be simple or very complex to match the growth of your team.
Develop your columns
You can configure columns on your Kanban boards to represent significant states in the workflow such as “to do,” “in progress,” and “done.” You can also add swimlanes to group work into different streams – for example, by assignees, projects, epics, or whatever other criteria helps your team to make better sense of the tasks at hand.
Consider work in progress limits
You can set work in progress (WIP) limits to restrict the number of stories in each status in your board. That way, you will prevent particular states from becoming your team’s bottlenecks. You will also make sure that your team isn’t overwhelmed with the number of tasks in their backlog and all issues flow through the workflow designed for your team smoothly.
Jira Software includes some out-of-the-box reporting tools and gadgets to help your team track the cycle time of your product. You can use reporting tools to predict future performance efficiently. Gadgets, on the other hand, display summary information about projects on your dashboard, offering a central location for quick access.
You can also take advantage of cumulative flow diagrams and control charts. For example, a cumulative flow diagram shows the number of issues in each of the statuses on your board. By looking at this diagram, your team will be able to see blockages easily. All it takes is checking the number of issues that increase in any given state in comparison to others.
A control chart, on the other hand, allows seeing the cycle time for your product or version. By using this chart, you’ll be able to identify whether data from the current process can help you predict the future performance of your team.
And that’s what Kanban is all about – efficiency, transparency, and data-driven decisions.
Have you got any questions about using Jira Software for implementing Kanban in your teams?
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org; I help organizations take advantage of Atlassian tools to build processes for their teams and improve their productivity using agile methodologies.