How Do I Know When I’m Ready to Implement Kanban?
Before implementing a new tool or a new methodology, you need to make sure you are ready to do it well. If you are not ready for it, you risk doing more damage than good, and implementing something like Kanban improperly might actually hinder your own or your organization’s productivity.
This is why we have compiled a list of indications to help you make sure you are ready for Kanban:
1. You Understand the Terminology
Before implementing a methodology or a tool, you need to understand them, and be familiar with all of their underlying concepts. A good litmus test for determining if your knowledge has the required depth is by checking if you are familiar with the core terminology. If you don’t know what WIP limits, bottlenecks, pull/push systems, flow efficiency, the PDCA cycle, or swim lanes are, you probably need to learn a bit more about Kanban in order for you to be ready to implement it well.
2. You Can Involve Everybody
When implementing Kanban in an organization or a team, it can only work if everybody involved in the actual work is invested and ready to get involved. If there are team segments or particular individuals that are involved in the process who are not going to be involved in the Kanban implementation, you are most likely going to fail. Kanban needs to be a common priority for everybody, not just to be effective, but to work at all. So if you can’t ensure that, you are simply not in the position to implement it yet, and you should look to expand the support for it first.
3. You Have Studied the Particular Process
It doesn’t matter if you want to implement Kanban to manage a particular business process, an entire organization, a team or your personal workload – before you can implement the system, you need to study the actual process or set of processes you are going to use it for. As simple as Kanban is, designing a suitable Kanban board and/or Kanban cards requires the person in charge to understand the needs of the organization, and all the little specificities that are part of the process. Since Kanban focuses on the flow, the actual steps of the process need to be clearly understood, so they can become part of the implementation. Otherwise, you risk having the system as a hindrance instead of a valuable solution to problems and a source of improvement and efficiency.
4. You Have a Clear Vision for the Implementation
You shouldn’t start putting Kanban into practice until you have a very clear idea of why it is going to be beneficial, and how exactly it is going to work. This means that you aren’t ready to implement Kanban until you have a clear vision for it. As mentioned above, Kanban might not be too complex, but in order for it to function correctly, it needs to be properly implemented. There are a few different things that you need to consider, such as: what you are going to have on the Kanban cards, what steps of the process you will use as columns, what WIP limits will be imposed, and if or how your swim lanes will be implemented. If all of that is clear, you are ready, otherwise you need to work on your vision more.
5. You Have Though About What Could Go Wrong
Before you can claim you are ready to go through with any major transformation, ask yourself what could go wrong. You should do that before you implement Kanban. Try to think about any weaknesses in your plans, possible failures and obstacles, and how you are going to handle them. You are not ready to go through with a plan until you have considered the worst case scenario, as well and feel confident you know how to avoid it.
So Are You Ready?
Proper preparation is always a crucial part of success, so don’t rush anything. Implementing a new workflow management tool is not a small step, and you shouldn’t overlook any of the five indications on this list. Skipping any of them will put your project at a higher risk of failure, so the prudent thing to do would be to make sure you are thoroughly prepared. But if you have covered all your bases and you feel ready to succeed with Kanban, go ahead and enjoy it.