How to Maintain Kanban Systems
Kanban means ‘visual card’, or simply, ‘sign’ in Japanese. In manufacturing, there are two types of Kanban: the ‘move’ Kanban, which tells the receiving department when to move parts to the assembly line, and the ‘make’ Kanban, which instructs suppliers to manufacture parts or products. As part of the Lean Six Sigma methodology, Kanban cards can be used in all business industries (not just manufacturing) to streamline tasks, improve operational processes, and encourage better communication within the workforce.
Kanban cards and systems are designed to cut waste, reduce time wasting, and improve collaboration on projects. But, Kanban cards are not magic; they won’t transform your business efficiency levels on their own. You must properly maintain them and utilize their full potential.
So, how can one effectively maintain a Kanban system? Here are five key ways.
1. Remove Completed Tasks Immediately
When business operations are in progress, Kanban systems come in extremely handy for tracking the status of work tasks, delegating jobs, and collaborating as a team to produce the finest results. But only when Kanban boards are used regularly, as it’s imperative to keep them up to date. Failing to switch completed tasks over from your board to the ‘done’ list will make it harder to find ongoing operations quickly. This will slow your colleagues down, instead of making their job more convenient.
Don’t put off removing tasks until tomorrow, your Kanban board should always be up to date.
2. Color Coding
The purpose of a Kanban system is to allow you easy access to information about tasks in progress. Make use of a color coding system that allows you to effortlessly navigate the Kanban board. Whether you use a digital or physical system, contrasting colors ensure urgent jobs stand out, enable you to keep track of team members’ progress, and ensure projects are completed punctually.
A coding system where different colors have different representations, (for example, Red = to do, yellow = doing, and green = done) is a simple, straightforward way to utilize colors for your Kanban board.
3. Move Cards Between Columns
Moving Kanban cards between columns is imperative if you want to make the most of your Kanban board and system. In general, this is the feature that is used the most. There’s a high likelihood that you’ll be moving cards around more frequently than you create new ones.
If you’re using a Kanban board app, you will be able to easily move cards within seconds. Apps and similar digital Kanban systems allow you to change the placement of a card at any time, for example to move it from the ‘to do’ column to ‘doing’.
Physical Kanban board users should also get into the habit of moving the card as soon as the status of a project changes. Moving cards around on a physical board is not quite as effortless as when using an app. Use magnets and sticky notes, as they are popular solutions for improving the efficiency of this process.
4. Add Notes
When you’re using your Kanban system to track the progress of multiple projects, not including details about the task could land your team in a sea of confusion. Vague information can cost you dearly. If your employees become muddled when completing tasks, they will make mistakes.
Adding notes to cards in a digital Kanban system should be a quick and easy process. If you are using a Kanban app, there will be an ‘add note’ function handy. If you’re using a physical board, use cards that are large enough to add detailed information to.
5. Attach Checklists
Both digital and physical Kanban boards support the use of checklists to track operations progress. A checklist is a simple, efficient way of making sure that everything gets done, so they are widely utilized in Kanban systems.
If you’re using a Kanban app, you will likely have access to a feature allowing you to create a quick checklist for any given task. This will allow you to break one large project down into a series of smaller tasks, while only using up the space of one card on the board. Ensure that each project is checked off immediately on completion, to avoid the risk of wasting time working on something that’s already been done.
Working with a digital or physical Kanban system can help you to transform your business operations from sluggish and slow to fast and efficient. However, many people get wrapped up in the structure and look of a Kanban system, and overlook the discipline and consistency that is more critical for success. Make a habit of using these Kanban system maintenance strategies. so that you don’t miss out on any of its useful features.