Kanban is an easy system for managing tasks in a team. The instructions are easy:
- Visualize your work. Start with a table that has three columns: backlog, work in progress, done
- Put all your work into the backlog column.
- Limit the number of tasks in the "work in progress" column. This is the WIP limit.
- You can start new tasks only if other tasks have been finished (pull system)
I like Kanban, too. But a I have problems with additional tools:
- I have a least 2 work places. My Kanban board has to travel with me.
- I manage my tasks with Microsoft Outlook®. What I really like is Outlook's function to drag an e-mail into the task folder for making a task of it. I'm having about 50 - 100 tasks in my task list. I don't like to transfer tasks from one list to another.
- Switching of tools interrupts my flow of work. I don't want to have so many tools.
|Fig. 1: Outlook Today as Kanban board|
<param name="Namespace" value="MAPI">
<param name="Folder" value="WIP">
<param name="DeferUpdate" value="0">
Instead of "WIP" use the names of your folders. The HTML table is stored somewhere on your computer. Use that file as home page for a special folder in Outlook. Jim Boyce offers a short description how to add a custom Outlook Today view.
This is my point: A good idea like Kanban needs a technical solution (e. g. w/ Outlook) in order to use it effectively and very quickly in your daily business. Next time, when you wonder why a good idea is stuck, ask yourself if you have the right tools.
Teams who work with Kanban report real improvements (/2, 4/). Every team has to visualize its work; at best with a real board in your office. That motivates the team. If your team is scattered over different places, start with a simple solution based on public folders in Outlook.
- /1/ Benson, Jim ; Barry, Tonianne DeMaria: Personal Kanban. Seattle: Createspace, 2011
- /2/ Jim Benson: Personal Kanban Blog
- /3/ Jim Boyce: Create a custom Outlook Today view, http://www.boyce.us/office/offtipcontent.asp?ID=6
- /4/ Anderson, David J. ; Reinertsen, Donald G: Kanban : Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business. : Blue Hole, 2010.