Wondering what is Kanban or how businesses can use it to improve processes and quality? Kanban is a time-tested approach that helps manage and schedule workflows. It’s a tabular, visual way to see processes and how they flow.
It’s a very versatile tool that can be used for optimizing inventories, bolstering agile software development, and improving business efficiency and productivity. It will also reduce costs associated with transport, insurance, and defects.
The ultimate aim is to prevent overstocking in inventories and regulate production to avoid wastage.
Let’s see the basic principles of the kanban methodology and how it stands to benefit your business. We’ll also see what a kanban board is and how you can use it to improve efficiency and productivity for your organization.
What is Kanban Methodology?
The word Kanban derives from the Japanese ‘Kan’ meaning sign and ‘Ban’ meaning board. Kanban thus means ‘sign board’. Kanban has its roots in the manufacturing and automotive industries though it is now commonly used in agile software development.
The industrial engineer Taiichi Ohno at Toyota designed kanban principles to improve efficiency in manufacturing.
Kanban is basically a visual system that helps visualize work and track it as it moves across a process. The methodology can help identify problems in processes and create ways to get around them in the most cost efficient manner.
Kanban will monitor value delivery starting from the supplier to the consumption of the product by the customer. It helps reduce wastes in inventory management which include overstocking.
At the heart of Kanban is a continuous, gradual improvement, be it in procurement, marketing, sales, or recruitment. Essentially, any business function or department can use Kanban and benefit from streamlined management.
- Prevent excessive inventory buildup at all costs
- Begin with what you already know
- Make small, incremental changes
- Empower people at all levels of the business hierarchy
- Encourage team collaboration
- Eliminate overproduction
- Defective items should be stopped from reaching customers
Kanban will bring transparency and visibility into business tasks at all levels. It will outline everything including the flow of processes so managers will get a bird’s eye picture of the entire process pipeline from a single place.
The approach drastically reduces turnaround times and waste in transportation and production. Packaging and handling are made quicker, so companies can mitigate risks associated with the storage, transport, and insurance of goods.
Rework is reduced and delays in manufacturing processes are kept to a minimum.
Businesses that employ kanban can typically foresee risks and manage them better in a proactive manner. This helps differentiate them from their competitors and provide better customer service. Customer interactions and redressals are faster too.
How to Use a Kanban Board to Boost Productivity for Your Business
You can begin incorporating kanban in your business workflows with a simple tool called the kanban board. It’s a simple table with 3 columns: “Requested” processes, “In progress” processes, and “Completed” or “Done” processes.
The Kanban board should be simple enough to present a holistic picture of processes. It should be regularly revised and updated. Managers must ensure that everyone in the team has access to the updated kanban board.
Implemented the right way, a Kanban board can significantly boost productivity and engage teams to work together. This will encourage teams to place collective achievements over personal victories.
So, what is kanban really? It’s an approach that will help you visualize processes better and cut down on unnecessary steps to reduce waste and defects. Kanban, in effect, bridges lean and agile workflows. Businesses adopting kanban can proactively make changes in processes in anticipation of risks and problems.
What makes kanban so powerful and unique is that it can be easily adapted to diverse business functions from office supplies management to inventory management.
Kanban will remove problems, reduce expenses, and help improve customer services and satisfaction levels. Delivery times will be reduced too, as processes are accelerated to eliminate waiting times.
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