Productivity and Project Management

What is KANBAN?

30 September 2021

If you are interested in better understanding the KANBAN methodology, what it is, what it is for and who can use it, then this publication is for you!

Let's talk about Kanban?

Kanban is an agile methodology, that is, a tool used to manage projects more efficiently.

In this post, we'll talk about:

What are agile methodologies
How Kanban came about
How Kanban Works
How can I use and what are the best Kanban tools

What are agile methodologies?


as we speak in the publication our linkedin page, agile methodologies are nothing more than methods to manage projects efficiently.

Therefore, they can be used for different types of projects and teams, such as startups, sales teams, company departments, such as marketing, human resources, finance department, etc.

There are several types of agile methodologies. One of them is SCRUM, a robust framework, capable of managing large projects in an organized and fluid way. However, SCRUM, given its complexity, can be a challenge to implement in teams that are not familiar with agile tools.

In this sense, KANBAN is a great option, as it is a very intuitive tool, and its operation is of low complexity. You don't need any technical knowledge to implement Kanban in a project. For that reason it is one of the preferred methods of multidisciplinary teams.

In fact, Kanban is used in several project management platforms, given its versatility.

How did kanban come about?

It all started in the 1940s. The first Kanban system was developed by industrial engineer Taiichi Ohno for Toyota in Japan.

It was created as a simple planning system, the aim of which was to control and manage work and stock at all stages of production in an optimal way. In this video it is possible to know a little more deeply about the historical context of the creation of Kanban.

One of the main reasons for the development of Kanban was Toyota's inadequate productivity and efficiency compared to its American competitors. With Kanban, Toyota achieved a flexible and efficient just-in-time production control system that increased productivity while reducing cost-intensive stock of raw materials, semi-finished materials and finished products.

– But there were computers to manage Kanbans in 1940?

The answer is no! An interesting feature of Kanban is that although there are several digital platforms for this purpose today, it does not need a computer system to work.

Originally used frames and post-it notes with the tasks of each one of the team, and in many places Kanban is still used in this way.

BI company Portugal

Image Credits: Seventyfourimages

How does KANBAN work?


The term Kanban, which comes from the Japanese language (看板) , can be translated as “card” or even as “signaling”. And that's exactly what he does: through the use of a dashboard and cards, the demands of the team members were structured in a visual and efficient way.

In some places the term “visible management panel” is used, which is basically a Kanban adapted to the needs of each team.

There is more than one way to structure a Kanban, but in general terms, we can consider that its basic structure has three columns: a to do (to do), where all pending tasks are displayed; doing (in progress), where the tasks that are currently being done are located; and done (done), tasks completed.

Then, cards or post-it notes (in the case of physical charts) to fill in these charts and define those responsible for each task. On digital boards it is possible to place more complete information, such as deadlines, document links, etc.

From this flow, it is easier for the team to visualize the progress of a project; see what activity each member is working on, etc. In addition, it is also a way to measure team productivity.


Basic example of a kanban board

How can I use and what are the best Kanban tools?


There are several tools that offer Kanban. Some paid (usually more complete, others free (usually more basic) There is even the possibility of having a physical board in the team room, if that makes sense for your business.

Below you can find some online kanban tools available in the market:

click up
With free and paid subscriptions, the possibility of creating flexible work panels and with personalized cards.

Kanban Tool
A visual management solution that offers an incredibly high level of task/project detail and card personalization. The free subscription is quite comprehensive and for larger teams there are paid subscriptions. 

It has free and paid features. Users can add unlimited cards to Kanban boards, which can be sorted and filtered by deadline, priority, team or tag. 

At the same time, there are more robust project management tools that use Kanban in their workflows, with more advanced features. One such example is the JiraSoftware (which we use internally here at VFR Tech) and that, like the other platforms mentioned, has free and paid subscriptions.

Finally, there are dozens of platforms and management solutions that have Kanban to streamline processes. It's worth researching which one can best serve your project.



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