Lean Projects, Kanban, and Work Flow
Lean is a systematic methodology that got its start in manufacturing, acting on the primary principle of removing operational ineffectiveness and waste. It exists to identify sources of waste, and plan organized to eliminate waste through each phase of the production environment.
Implement Lean project management makes good use of limited resources, reduce waste, and streamline processes for gain maximum benefits.
Here are some examples of large global companies who use Lean:
- Volkswagen won the Automotive Lean Production Award
- Nike’s lean supply chain saves $0.15 per unit with 85% of its footwear delivered on lean manufacturing lines.
- FedEx has many great Lean Improvement Stories.
“Lean” exists for the elimination of waste (“Muda“) at it’s source. Lean considers waste created through overburden (“Muri”) and waste created through ineffective work loads (“Mura”). Lean Manufacturing methodology recognizes eight types of operational waste:
- excess processing
- under-utilized talent.
Types of Waste that Creates Business Impact
- Ineffective proper documentation
- Missing process standards
- Misunderstanding the customers’ needs
- Ineffective communication
- Lack of process control
- Inefficient process design
- Management failures
Lean Sigma Pillars and Process Templates
By Leveraging the pillars of the Lean 5S quality tool and free Lean Process Templates, whether the process is known (DMAIC) or unknown (DMADV) there is a clear path for implementing quality controls that support, standardize, and sustain the business.
- Sort: Remove all items not required for current production operations and retain only the strict essentials.
- Set in order: Arrange environment for ease of use, labeling items for easy identification and reference.
- Shine: Keep everything in the correct place with a clean clear work environment.
- Standardize: Perform the process consistently.
- Sustain: Once built, maintain correct procedures and encourage others to do the same to boost performance.
Prioritize Daily Scrum Activities: Kanban and Visual Task Board
Kanban is a Japanese Word for “Visual” signboard. The final concept of Lean uses a Kanban to schedule and prioritize production management. The Kanban scheduling system, or Kanban board, is a visualization tool to optimize the team’s workfflow. It provides a standup oriented visual display to identify what team workflow, prioritization and discussion.
This Atlassian Agile Coach video is a great introduction to Kanban
For a small change optimization process, I utilized a manual Kanban White Board with black tape for the swim lanes and Post-It Notes as Cards for a Lean Approach to ITIL ITSM Change Management Operational Improvements. The board was posted outside my cube and people would come by for process improvement chats on the cards while I was managing Change Management Optimization. This allowed me to reduce waste, manage unauthorized change sources, and eliminate costly change processes.
When doing a large ITSM Service Improvement Healthcare Process, I leveraged 22 feet of hall way space to line up a very large Kanban process board for team review and scrum visits. The Kanban board was outside a major IT Conference room and frequently process improvements took place at the board, discussing various cards and progress reports at the board.
Kanban Software Suites
Even better than a manual Kanban however, is an online Kanban friendly board. There are several used in business today and this helps global teams come together for daily scrums to review progress and blockers:
When working with IT Operations Management and DevOps teams, we often use a Jira Board to coordinate and review DevOps Cloud Based Project Implementations and Digital Transformation.
I used a ServiceNow Freeform Visual Task Board during COVID to track the implementation of Major Incident Management and it’s supporting process. The Freeform Board let me track cards and engagement, and assign subproject activities that support our project management and review.
Working on a major Digital Transformation Project where my team is implementing ServiceNow Automated Test Management Cases, I produced a State Based Task Board using the states from ServiceNow’s Automated Test Suite 2.0 to produce Automated Test Case Life Cycle cards, where each card represented a story that is pending assignment, work in progress, ready for QA, Ready for Development, Ready for Approval and Completed.
- Jira Kanban
- Sharepoint Kanban
- List of Free Productivity Kanban Tools
- ServiceNow Kanban (called Visual Task Boards) offers several approaches, and this is my favorite of all to work with
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