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Kanban Meaning? Kanban Methodology explained

Kanban Meaning

Kanban is a system of control and management of the production flow in companies and projects that uses colored cards (post-its) and also receives the name of visual management, due to the use of colors as flags.

Developed by Toyota in the 1940s (and put into practice in 1953), the simplicity and the benefits it provides made this method one of the most used in companies in all segments.

The central idea of the method is very simple and the material used is easily accessible, already well known in the daily lives of companies and offices.

History of the kanban method?

When a company has many products stored in its inventory, it means that it is accumulating products that should be on the market, but for some reason, they are not.

In the same sense, if a company has products missing, this means that it is not able to meet the demand that its customers need, which makes them look for the product in the competition.

In order to balance its production to avoid these two situations, Toyota, a car manufacturer, developed the kanban method in the 1940s, being classified as a part of the Toyota Production System. Its objective was to promote the control of the stock of materials so that the products did not exceed or lack, bringing balance to its stock and production line.

Currently, the kanban board has surpassed the limits of the industry and has started to be used in different areas, such as in marketing teams, services and software development, working as a task management tool.

What are the types of kanban?

The types are divided between withdrawal and production, the latter being more suitable for business use. Below, we explain each of them in detail:

Withdrawal Kanban

It is used by departments involved in a given task to receive a notification to start production or to wait for an alert to perform it.

Production Kanban

In this type, it is essential that all responsible collaborators visualize the sequence of the project, either through murals or specialized software. The murals are divided as follows:

  • to do: what should be done;
  • doing: tasks in execution;
  • done: tasks completed.

All activities under development are attached in each of these sections, which have a brief description of the task to be performed, the start and limit time, and the responsible employee.

How does this technique work?

Understanding the essence of the method, it is interesting to see how it works.

Thus, because it is based mainly on visual references, colored cards are affixed to products, common places in the company, murals, and even computers that have an electronic module of the system.

This ease of visualization and interpretation, makes communication between employees much faster and more effective and everyone knows exactly the tasks that need to be done and those that have already been accomplished.

The whole method is based on the “pulled production” system, in other words, the production of a new product only starts when an item in the stock is sold, very different from the Ford model (of continuous production).

In this way, murals were clearly visible on the company’s production line and cards of various colors and sizes were used to define the completed actions, those that were being carried out and those that had yet to be started.

Kanban Meaning: Advantages of Kanban

The Kanban methodology can bring countless benefits for companies. From a more realistic visualization of tasks to the influence on the engagement and dedication of professionals to carry out their activities.

We have selected some of the advantages that the company that adopts the Kanban methodology will have in its routine.

Easy to view workflow

As the kanban uses colored post-its, it is easier for professionals to visualize their responsibilities.

Cost reduction

With a clear view of the activities to be performed, the kanban offers greater efficiency in the execution of tasks. Consequently, errors and excessive spending on resources are reduced.

Increased productivity

The possibility of working focused on certain tasks allows a higher performance since it is possible to identify priorities and delegate tasks to the right people. Determining deadlines and forms of execution.

Control over activities

What to do and when to do it? The Kanban methodology directs managers and employees on what needs to be done. Thus, all tasks will be properly controlled and executed with greater ease and efficiency.

Decision making

The kanban also contributes to decision making and changes in the direction of projects by managers and professionals.

When viewing the tasks on the wall or in the online method, it is possible to see which ones are late, which employee has not delivered, and act so that the execution and course of activities are adjusted halfway.

This possibility of interfering with a task is easier when it is possible to view its execution on a daily basis.

Employee engagement

Through established goals and deadlines, the kanban contributes to make the commitment and efforts of professionals in relation to tasks more effective. When the team knows what it needs to do and how, it tends to be more engaged with the workflow and goals.

How to put Kanban into practice in your business?

Check out some tips for using Kanban in your daily business. These are easy actions that you can start doing today, regardless of your company’s segment or size.

Analyze the needs of the company: before starting to implement the Kanban method, analyze the real needs of your company. Which projects should be developed and which can be developed using this technique.

As this is the first step to fully implement Kanban in your business, it is worth selecting some projects. Thus it is possible to analyze the performance of each one, with or without the method.

Prepare and train the team: this tip is one of the main tips for implementing the Kanban method well. Prepare your team in advance and plan. This time of preparation and training allows the experience with Kanban to be better than without it.

One tip is to establish a calendar. It is often easier to carry out a process in stages than in one go. Thus, with time and respecting the deadlines, it is possible to understand the doubts and expectations regarding this new process.

Identify stages, rules and categories: although it seems easy, implementing the Kanban method requires following all the steps. Therefore, after choosing a project, identify the main points.

The question usually involves associating the points of your project with the characteristics of the Kanban. Have patience and objectivity at this time, as this can disrupt the whole process, if done wrong.

Prioritize activities and processes: not everything needs to be done with the same importance and priority. There are important and urgent tasks and this should be highlighted on the Kanban wall. As we are talking about a visual system, invest in visual stimuli that allow this prioritization.

Colors that represent urgency or not, processes that must be reformulated, among other things. Thus it is possible to have order and strategy, performing important tasks in due time.

Visualize the workflow: always watch the workflow. Even if you implement the system, keep in mind the processes involved in your work. This makes it easier to understand the strengths and weaknesses that need to be noted in your business.

These points are important when it comes to having the best performance of the Kanban method in your business. We better observe the activities carried out in the best way and so on. All of this just by analyzing the workflow.

Start with what you have today: there are several tools that allow you to implement the Kanban method, but it’s up to you to use what you have on a daily basis. If you have a whiteboard, use it to expose tasks. Activities can be performed in order of importance, based on the colors of the pens.

If you have post-it notes, use them intelligently and organized. If you decide to invest in digital tools, you can include other employees. The important thing is to use what you have available in your company and associate it with the Kanban method.

Make constant feedback: more important than implementing a system, is to understand its results. Showing how the employee performed that particular activity allows him to discover his potential. If you perform on schedule, it is worth congratulating you. Otherwise, analyze if you had any difficulties during the process.

This is the part that must be developed at the end, but nothing prevents that along the steps this cannot be done. This saves time, as changes can be made in a timely manner. And it can also motivate another professional, including talent.



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