How to coordinate with Kanban

Kanban Meeting

Run Effective Standups around Kanban

Kanban – Best practices

The most obvious practice to coordinate your team is to use the physical Kanban board itself. WIP limits and visual information (service class, due date, …) will help to indicate whether new tasks can be pulled and what tasks to pull. An alternative or addition to the physical board can be an electronic/online tool (e.g. kanbanery.com). An online board can do more things than a physical board, for example creating metrics and reports for the management.

An online board can do more things than a physical board, for example creating metrics and reports for the management.

There are some common meeting types around the Kanban board, which we will shortly discuss in a moment. It’s good practice to meet regularly so that there is no scheduling required, which reduces costs.

Daily Standup Meeting

The daily standup meeting is the most common standup meeting for an agile process. Usually the standup takes place in the morning. Regular participants will see the changes since last standup. Therefore the focus is on the ticket flow.
The moderator goes from right to left through the Kanban board and pays attention to blockers and tickets that are behind schedule. Stuck tasks would get a new blocker if appropriate. Mature teams will only look at blockers and bug tickets such that a large number of participants is possible.

Follow-Up Meeting

A follow-up meeting takes place spontaneously and consists of 2-3 persons. Blockers, technical questions or questions regarding the architecture can be discussed after the daily standup meeting. The discussion can generate ideas for improvement and lead to process adjustments and innovation.

Supply Meeting

Supply meetings fill the input queue with new prioritized tickets. Participants are product owners and competent departments but can also be extended to interested parties.

Weekly Kanban Meeting

In each project we carry out a weekly Kanban Meeting. Optimally, with involvement of the customer and if this is not possible without the customer. These Kanban Meetings are important for us to visualize the workflow, to identify blockers and resolve them as quickly. Also the specific responsibilities for tasks are defined in the Kanban Meetings.

In detail the moderator of the meeting goes through the Kanban board from the right side to the left side and pays attention to blockers and tickets that are behind schedule.
Technical and detailed discussions doesn’t take place in the Kanban Meeting but in the Follow-Up meeting.

 We document every Kanban Meeting and evaluate it in the next meeting, which is part of the Kaizen culture we establish in our company.

Release Planning Meeting

Release planning meetings discuss the delivery at the end of the value chain. Mature organizations use checklists or frameworks to simplify planning.

Triage

Triage is useful to find bugs but is primarily for backlog maintenance and takes place with a longer interval between the meetings. The backlog triage will go through the backlog entries and decide whether to keep an entry or remove it.
The end result is a smaller backlog which simplifies the prioritization. Automation (e.g. once a month remove tickets older than 6 months) could be used to replace the triage.

Conclusion

The best practice is to use physical and electronic/online Kanban boards. Regular meetings will help to reduce coordination costs and increase participation. Prioritization and release planning should be done independently.
Daily standup meetings should be used to discuss problems, blockers and the ticket flow. Daily standups with the whole team add the possibility to suggest improvements. Backlog maintenance with the a periodic triage will simplify prioritization. At the end it’s all about boosting the core competences to handle, escalate and solve problems.

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