What is Kanban? A Simple Framework for the Team

26 May, 2022 | Read in 5 minutes

Do you know what is Kanban method? It's more than sticky notes which you put on the wall. Knowing its principle and how it works can help you grasp your daily work.


Kanban is a common lean workflow management method. It's popular for defining, managing, and improving services that perform knowledge work.

It helps you visualize, maximize efficiency, and improve your work. The task can be visible on the Kanban board. It can streamline the delivery of work across many team members. Then the team can handle even the most complex projects in a single environment.

Kanban came from the manufacturing industry. Then it later became a topic claimed by the agile software development teams. Today, it is popular in the business of various branches.

There are some questions as more people familiar with Kanban:

  1. What is Kanban?

  2. Who needs Kanban?

  3. Why is Kanban important?

To answer that questions, here are the most important things you need to know about Kanban:

What is Kanban?

According to Forbes, Kanban means “visual sign” or 'card' which came from a Japanese term. Production line employees at Toyota use Kanban to mark their manufacturing processes. It is this 'visual signal' system that helps teams communicate work-related.

These visual signals provide an overview of what has to do and when the task you should do. Also, you can use Kanban as a basic guide to reducing waste and maximizing value.

Toyota invented a better design process in the 1940s: a supermarket shopkeeper. That shopkeeper was not restocking the goods from the store's inventory but from a salesperson.

The shopkeeper will reorder an item if only the stock item is running low. This “just-in-time” delivery move prompted Toyota engineers to rethink the company's methods. They also devised a new approach. This new approach system is popular as the Kanban system.

The Kanban system regulates the number of requests for higher quality and throughput. What's more, better communication through visual management, Toyota has implemented this method.

David J. Anderson also discusses the Kanban method in his book: Successful Evolutionary Change in Technology Business.

With the growing popularity of the Kanban system, many fields now apply this system such as project management, IT, software development, etc.

Why is the Kanban important?

Kanban is popular because it offers several benefits, such as:

  • Improve collaboration
  • Increase the team productivity
  • Smooth workflow
  • Better management
  • Improve quality control
  • More flexibility in completing tasks
  • There is continuous improvement
  • Time efficiency
  • Make the team more focused

How does the Kanban method work?

The Kanban method is quite easy and simple. There are five basic principles in how it works. Here it is.

1. Visualize the workflow

The first step of how the Kanban method works is to create a visualization of the process model or project flow. That visualization is important to know because there are some tasks that need to do.

You can use the Kanban board to get the visualization of a workflow. It is a board, either in physical form or a digital board in certain software for representing a project view.

In the Kanban board, you can create several columns to break down the stages of a workflow. For example:

  • To Do: a list of what to do initially to achieve the project's ultimate goal
  • In Progress: a list of progressing tasks
  • Done: a list of completed tasks

In each column, Kanban cards represent each task in the project phase. It contains information from the task details to the person responsible for the task. Once completed, the task card moves to the column next to it so you can see progress or problems in the project workflow.

2. Manage the task

Make sure you set a limit on the number of jobs or tasks that are in progress on the Kanban board, so you can focus more on that part. Thus, the team can focus on completing the existing task before starting a new task.

3. Manage and measure workflow

You can observe and analyze the efficiency of the workflow process well. Be aware of the obstacles that can cause delays in the entire process. Then set appropriate goals to help examine what needs to improve in the process.

4. Make a decision

You must make sure that the projects are clear to define and well communicated to all members of the team. Giving clear information about the projects can let the team members know what they need to do to achieve the goal. Then they can provide suggestions that can improve the project's result.

5. Continuous feedback

Hold regular meetings to provide feedback to all team members. Remember that applying the Kanban method also requires evaluation, analysis, and improvement. So don't forget to give continuous feedback for your better team.

Measure the effectiveness of the workflow, quality, results, and other factors. Thus, you can improve the system and the team workflow.  

After knowing how Kanban works, then who needs the Kanban method?

Who needs Kanban?

Each organization and business can use Kanban. Especially the team that focuses on getting small jobs done in a fast-paced environment. Then, the remote team can also use Kanban to manage their work from anywhere.

Moreover, Kanban is suitable for teams for the following reasons, such as:

  • Work is visible to the team members involved
  • Work can divide into small steps
  • The team can focus on the tasks

Overview of Kanban  

The Kanban method is more than sticky notes which you put on the wall. Knowing the principle and how it works can help you understand Kanban in daily work.

Kanban can make work processes beyond your imagination. Don't forget to organize your regular feedback loop. Combining all this reveals the true power of Kanban for your work progress.

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic makes us do a lot of activities from home, including work. In fact, conditions like this are very vulnerable to disrupting productivity. But thanks to the available project management and collaboration tools.

Project management and collaboration tool such as VirtualSpace offers you the use of Kanban board visualization in its project board feature. So you can manage projects more easily with your team.

The transition from working in the office to working from home can be done more easily and with no problems. With this tool that offers a Kanban board, communication between you and your co-workers will remain smooth without any problems. The tool combines the project management tool and team collaboration tool in one place.

VirtualSpace is well suited for remote teams. Especially for teams that need to get great results in every project. The teams need to visualize the workflow and the team communication. So, VirtualSpace ensures you feel the best experience of managing projects. Managing projects has never been easy before. Try VirtualSpace and feel the outstanding experience of a collaboration tool! Register now!

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