Change management is the process or capability that manages change effectively, efficiently, and safely. It ensures a steady-state in any organization. However, it is not easy for all the things to function smoothly. You may face some obstacles along the way. For example, there may be too many changes that are often difficult to deal with. Sometimes there are problems with approvals and delegations, causing change advisory board (CAB) meetings to grind to a halt due to volumes or to descend into chaos. No matter what the cause is, the change process may lead to frustration, delays, and a lot of stress.
To sort out all this chaos, every organization requires a good change management process in place. Using Kanban to organize projects is one way to accomplish it.
What Is a Kanban Board?
A Kanban Board is a simple tool for workflow visualization, which is very helpful in improving teamwork. Kanban started as a visual production system. It is is a lean method to manage and improve work across systems. With time, a Kanban method led to the introduction of the Kanban boards. Now, it is a widely used tool in project management.
How do Kanban Boards work?
It is an agile project management tool that plays an important role in visualizing work, limiting the work-in-progress (WIP), and maximizing efficiency and flow. Kanban boards use-
Kanban Cards: the cards have all the information related to a particular task like assignee, deadline, description, etc. it helps in visually representing the task.
Kanban Columns: The Kanban board has several columns. These columns represent the various stages of your workflow.
Work-in-Progress Limit: By using this, you can limit the maximum amount of tasks in the different stages of the workflow. It is an extremely helpful way to limit the burden and pressure on the team members so that they can concentrate on the current task.
Kanban Swimlanes: These are useful to differentiate among the various activities, teams, classes of service, etc.
Use of Kanban Boards in the change management process
When using Kanban in a change management process, the following steps might be useful in terms of keeping things on track:
- First, the change is submitted and is at an initial review stage.
- Then change is peer-reviewed and meets all the quality criteria needed to move on to the build and test stage.
- The deployment is now built and tested.
- Next comes the Deployment approval by the stake.
- Once it gets approved, the change is released into the appropriate environment.
- All work about the change is now complete. A review is carried out to learn from the mistakes and improve. After due consent from all stakeholders, the change is closed off.
A major change in the project would be introducing Kanban boards into your CAB process. Therefore, you need to ensure that all the change owners have understood the approach well.
Here are a few guidelines, which will help in the adoption of Kanban Boards.
- Only add the CAB-ready changes onto the Kanban board
- Do not complicate Kanban cards by putting out too much information. Ensure that the change titles are short and easy to understand.
- Ensure that each card contains a reference, title, owner, and implementation window to progress.
- Keep updating the board to ensure that all parties can see what stage a change is on the board.
- You can easily figure out which Changes are not moving forward. In such cases, you will need change-management intervention.
- To ensure that only the visibly-impacting and high-stakes changes are being discussed at CAB, you must use standard changes, models, and templates.
- The advantages of Kanban boards in CABs
- Visual clarity and simplicity– The best part about Kanban is that it is elementary to understand, just cards and board. Kanban boards provide an excellent visual representation of a change in any project. You can see its progress throughout. Moreover, they are pretty cheap to implement, so do not worry much about the expenditure.
Adaptability and Flexibility
- The Kanban methodology works with various teams and processes. Other systems like waterfall project management may also use Kanban methodology. Moreover, the flexibility of the columns allows Kanban to adapt to your team’s workflow without necessitating any new changes in the system. The task which is at the top of the column is taken first. So you can put whatever is most important up at the top to ensure that the members do it as soon as possible without disturbing anything in progress.
- Improved responsiveness – Since all the information is on the board, you can easily find out the problems in the process. It ensures quick implementation of remedial measures.
- Increased output- Too much multitasking may lead to incorrect work. Therefore, to stop your team members from multitasking, you can limit the Work in Progress as per your requirement. You can apply a limit on the total number of tasks that can be in progress at any given time on the board or put individual limits on each stage of the workflow. It will ensure that the team members focus well on their assigned tasks and complete them well.
- Better collaboration– All the team members get an opportunity to collaborate better and get things done more efficiently.
- Empowered teams– It is a great way to motivate and empower the employees to reach the finish line.
- Instills a kaizen culture– There is a significant reduction in the inventory due to flow-based software delivery.
- Queues are more controlled, and buffers are shorter, hand-offs are briefer – there is adequate exposure of delivery issues, process inefficiencies, or lack of clarity.
- They are a platform for CSI (Continual Service Improvement) (or continual improvement in ITIL 4)– It is quite easy to review processes and make improvements that cut waste, streamline workflows, and reduce overheads through a visual system for change management.
Essential practices of Kanban
If you are planning to implement Kanban boards into your project management style, you must consider these four steps mentioned below to ensure that this workflow increases the efficiency and productivity of your team.
Make explicit process policies
It is essential to ensure that all the team members understand the functioning of Kanban Boards. Always remember that you are introducing it to make things easier and not messier. After defining the work in progress limits, display them on the board. All the team members should understand how to pull work through the board.
Manage the flow
It is not sufficient to just display all the information by visualizing it. It is essential to manage it. Lookout for all possible issues and try to find solutions for them. Whenever you come across any bottleneck, try to resolve it as soon as possible. Actively engage with the information that you get from the Kanban board instead of passively observing it.
Use feedback loops
You must continuously make an effort to review the information on your Kanban Board. Make a proper schedule and accordingly review the date. It will not only help you find bottlenecks but also ensure continual improvement.
Majorly, the Kanban methodology is based on teamwork. It is not just a single employee who can complete the entire project. You must work with your entire team and tackle problems collectively.