Project Management

The Kanban Board: A PM’s New Best Friend?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

“I love the fact that we have these online Kanban boards now.” That was the start of a conversation that I had recently with a PM who I always thought of as being very traditional and who would never consider anything that wasn’t a “pure” waterfall approach. I told him that I was surprised to hear him say that, and the next comment surprised me even more: “No, I don’t mean that I like the fact that we have Kanban boards, I mean I like that they are online now. Previously I had to have them on my wall and everyone kept making fun of me using them.”

So what was it that led such a traditional PM to embrace an agile tool so readily? Well, to understand that we need to understand what Kanban boards offer project managers--and that’s what I want to look at here.

I don’t want to turn this article into a Kanban Boards 101 article; there are plenty of those available. But to provide a very simple summary, the most basic Kanban board Is simply three columns titled “not started”, “in progress” and “complete”. The aim, not surprisingly, is to move work items--usually represented by sticky notes in a physical Kanban board through the columns. There are additional features, and I’ll talk to some of those in this article, but that’s enough to get you started.

Basic and …

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