HomeTECHNOLOGYThe Kanban System: A Practical Guide For Project Managers!

The Kanban System: A Practical Guide For Project Managers!

Colored columns and colored post-its. Sound familiar? Suppose you’ve ever heard the term Kanban. In that case, you can certainly imagine it in its visual representation: a Kanban board based on a label system that indicates work to be done, in Progress, or completed. 

Although the Kanban system was inspired by the Japanese automotive industry, in particular by Toyota, and was initially used and linked to the world of Just In Time production to avoid waste, today, it fits very well into any agile development of agile projects. 

So, what is the Kanban methodology, and how does it allow you to optimize the management of your projects when associated with lean logic? Let’s take a concrete look at its principles and how to apply them to your projects!

Why Choose The Kanban System? Advantages And Disadvantages


  1. method easy to implement and understand
  2. Cheap does put in place.
  3. optimizes production times and storage costs
  4. clarity and logical system
  5. process transparency
  6. anticipation of blocks
  7. limiting multitasking
  8. continuous improvement process


  1. The method only applies if the demand is irregular; in this case, it would be too complex to manage production correctly.
  2. An error in the system can cause a production process line to stop and slow down the business.
  3. The methodology gains its usefulness if the teams understand and integrate its principles.

Understanding The Method In Practice: Principles And Functioning

What Is The Kanban For?

Tasks are represented by colored labels or tags (usually post-its or billboards). A brand represents each task. The lessons are then categorized and placed on the kanban board in the column corresponding to their status, for example :

  1. to study
  2. to do
  3. work in Progress (WIP)
  4. To validate or test
  5. finished

Your kanban board should contain the number of columns that best fit your organization. We recommend keeping at least three: To Do, In Progress, and Completed. Once you started your project, you divided the tasks, and therefore the labels, by team member; all titles are in the first “To Do” column. As the project progresses, the kanban board visually reflects the completion of the tasks: the brand moves from column to column until it reaches the “Completed” column.

How Does The Kanban System Work?

  1. visualization of the workflow, in phases, in a system accessible to the whole team,
  2. clarity and legibility of tasks,
  3. simplification of production or development processes,
  4. Segmentation of projects into actionable tasks and limitation of work in Progress: a new study can only be started by the team if the others in Progress have been completed,
  5. The concentration of effort (and associated costs) on producing a product or service that meets a specific demand, with a focus on quality rather than quantity

How To Implement The 5-Step Kanban Method?

Phase 1: Identify The Project To Apply The Kanban Method To

To start, identify the process or processes you want to improve. Kanban is meant to supplement them and bring fluency by promoting real-time communication and collaboration between team members. Let’s take the example of software development here. The Kanban system doesn’t lend itself to all projects. This method is the most relevant if a process has an activity workflow.

Phase 2: Model The Process

  1. Identify the stakeholders and the roles and responsibilities of each, including the project manager and his project team responsible for creating the deliverables.
  2. Then add the requestors and precisely indicate the types of requests they issue (for example, quotes, specifications, etc.).
  3. Define a global mapping of the process and its phases, including the method to follow when tasks change managers.
  4. Clarify your kanban workflow:
  5. Need to add more steps?
  6. Our advice: Feel free to rename each stage of the workflow with names that fit your business.
  7. List the tasks to be performed.
  8. Divide the workflows into columns, which correspond to the main steps (hint: start with your deliverable and work your way back through the steps to the top).

Phase 3: Build The Kanban Board

  1. Draw the columns on a wall bulletin board or plain paper.
  2. What contents should be mentioned on your labels or cards?
  3. The relevant User Story (or the item ordered as part of a production of goods),
  4. the value of the United States,
  5. complexity,
  6. the description of the tasks to be performed,
  7. Acceptance criteria.

Kanban label example:

  1. As … [Interested User],
  2. I want… [feature description],
  3. For… [need, benefit].

Your kanban board now visually highlights all the tasks, why, and for what purpose.

Phase 4: Monitor The Progress Of The Project

The project is started, and the workflow begins: with the agile method, seen previously, the duration of a sprint (one week, two weeks, one month) has been defined to work in iterative mode.

Each sprint begins with an activity program :

  1. review the tasks to be performed,
  2. help yourself with scrum tools
  3. estimate the time required for each job,
  4. prioritize tasks,
  5. divide tasks within the team,
  6. create a label for each job,
  7. insert the tags in the relevant column of the form:
  8. the charge must be completed during this sprint: enter it in the To-Do column;
  9. The study has no priority and will be done later: insert it, for example, in a Backlog column.

As activities Progress, update your kanban board and move labels from column to column until you reach the To Do column. The Kanban method is both incremental (step work) and iterative (cycle work). It ensures continuous and evolutionary changes.

Phase5: Improve Collaboration With A Dedicated Tool

Collaborative working must be the norm for all parties involved to follow the production progress (software development or production and inventory management). This is even more true for dispersed teams, telecommuting, or working on different sites. 

How do you check the Kanban method when not everyone has access to the table to view the tasks?  A SaaS software, available online, allows all the players in a project to view the Kanban board and share information about the project, even remotely. These online Kanban tools will enable you to :

  1. more instantaneous,
  2. Integrate your daily kanban management with indicators and notifications,
  3. to become more responsive and act quickly when your team needs to.

Some examples of online kanban tables:

  1. monday.com: a visual and intuitive task management solution with a clear and customizable Kanban vision that puts collaboration at the heart of its operation;
  2. Trello – an intuitive and free task management tool designed as a virtual Kanban board, straightforward to use with drag and drop;
  3. Wrike: a complete dedicated Kanban view and an ergonomic online space that integrates into your IT environment thanks to its many connectors.

Kanban Methodology: Much More Than Just Labels

If the kanban method allows a visual representation of tasks using labels on a table, it is not limited to this. Bring flexibility to your projects: As soon as a change is needed, Kanban can adapt to new requirements at any time.

The distribution of roles is variable and adapts to the organization’s needs (except for some parts such as product manager or product owner). It is based on collaboration and internal communication, two essential components for successful project management.

Read Also: Seven Online Collaboration Tools You Need To Try

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