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Kanban is an Agile project management methodology that focuses on visualizing work, optimizing flow, and promoting continuous improvement. Originally developed by Toyota for manufacturing, Kanban has been widely adopted in software development and various other industries. Kanban provides a visual representation of the workflow and helps teams manage their work effectively, minimize bottlenecks, and deliver value faster.

Key Principles of Kanban

  1. Visualization: Kanban visualizes the workflow by using a Kanban board, which consists of columns representing different stages of work. Work items are represented as cards or sticky notes that move across the board as they progress.

  2. Work in Progress (WIP) Limits: Kanban imposes limits on the number of work items allowed in each column. WIP limits prevent overloading the team, reduce multitasking, and encourage focus on completing tasks.

  3. Flow Management: Kanban aims to optimize the flow of work by identifying and resolving bottlenecks and ensuring a smooth progression from one stage to another.

  4. Continuous Improvement: Kanban promotes a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging teams to reflect on their processes, identify areas for improvement, and make incremental changes.

Kanban Board

A Kanban board is a visual representation of the workflow. It typically consists of columns representing different stages, such as "To Do," "In Progress," and "Done." Work items are represented as cards or sticky notes that move horizontally across the board as they progress from one stage to another. The Kanban board provides transparency, enabling team members to track progress and identify potential blockers.

Work in Progress (WIP) Limits

Kanban uses WIP limits to manage the amount of work in progress at any given time. WIP limits are set for each column on the Kanban board, indicating the maximum number of work items that can be in that column simultaneously. WIP limits help prevent overloading the team, reduce context switching, and promote focus and faster delivery of work.

Kanban Practices

  1. Visualize the Workflow: Map out the workflow and create a Kanban board that represents each stage of work.

  2. Set WIP Limits: Determine appropriate WIP limits for each column to prevent work bottlenecks and maintain a smooth flow.

  3. Manage Flow: Continuously monitor the flow of work, identify bottlenecks or delays, and take action to address them.

  4. Collaboration and Communication: Kanban promotes regular stand-up meetings and encourages team members to discuss the status of work, dependencies, and potential issues.

  5. Measure and Improve: Collect and analyze metrics, such as lead time and cycle time, to gain insights into the team's performance and identify areas for improvement.

Benefits of Kanban

Kanban offers several benefits for project management and team productivity:

  • Visibility and Transparency: Kanban provides clear visibility into the status of work, enabling team members and stakeholders to track progress and identify potential issues.

  • Reduced Waste and Bottlenecks: By limiting WIP and optimizing flow, Kanban helps identify bottlenecks and reduces wasteful practices such as task switching and overproduction.

  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Kanban allows for quick adaptation to changes and shifting priorities, making it suitable for projects with dynamic requirements.

  • Improved Productivity: Kanban promotes focus, reduces multitasking, and improves the overall efficiency of the team, leading to increased productivity.

  • Enhanced Collaboration: Kanban encourages collaboration and communication among team members, enabling better coordination and shared understanding.

  • Continuous Improvement: With its emphasis on continuous improvement, Kanban fosters a culture of learning, experimentation, and innovation within the team.


Kanban is an Agile project management methodology that emphasizes visualization, flow optimization, and continuous improvement. By visualizing the workflow, setting WIP limits, and managing flow, Kanban helps teams deliver value more efficiently and effectively. With its focus on transparency, flexibility, and collaboration, Kanban enables teams to adapt to change, identify bottlenecks, and continuously improve their processes. Implementing Kanban practices can lead to increased productivity, reduced waste, and improved project outcomes.