The Viral growth of Kanban on the Enterprise
Kanban is becoming amazingly popular very quickly because of its accelerated rate of adoption and remarkable impact on organizations of all sizes. Such fast pace is both good and bad because it is benefitting organizations when adopted properly and because of the risk of doing it wrong by rushing an adoption without fully understanding it. For example, a frequently asked question on Kanban is whether it is a methodology for software development, or for software maintenance, or for project management, or a systematic approach to cultural change in the organization, or other. Another frequent question is if Kanban is the next logical step after Scrum and if that means Scrum should be done before doing Kanban. The March issue of the Cutter IT Journal contains articles that help answer questions.
The issue features an article by David Anderson, de creator of Kanban, with Arne Roock on aspects of Kanban adoptions. Taking Kanban adoption in Germany as starting and central point, they discuss how Kanban adoption has disseminated throughout the world and how cultural factors influence the rate of adoption. Anderson and Roock also describe the main reasons why Kanban should be used.
Allan Shalloway’s article on Demystifying Kanban gives us a panoramic view on what Kanban is and isn’t by comparing it with what he has been calling first generation agile methodologies, such as Scrum and XP, and discussing how Kanban overcomes their challenges. Allan has identified seven misconceptions on Kanban and discusses four of them at length and three of them in brief, then he concludes the article with a “test” to determine whether or not your organization is actually doing Kanban.
Dan Verweij and Olav Maassen, present the success story of Kanban adoption at an insurance company in the Benelux, in Western Europe. They describe how the insurance company went from a pilot project on Kanban to 20 teams doing Kanban in around 18 months as well as the reasons for the adoption, which include business, management, and operational reasons. Verweij and Maassen discuss the difficulties encountered throughout the adoption and the various benefits obtained and conclude their paper with four recommendations to adopting Kanban.
The article on Kanban for help-desks, written by Rolland Cuellar, is around the context of what he calls “managing the unplannable” as a phrase to describe the challenges encountered at help-desk organizations. He explains why approaches such as waterfall and Scrum are not suitable for such type of activities, and how Kanban makes the cut for both help-desk and network operations organizations. Cuellar gives credit to limiting work-in-progress, a core property of Kanban, as an important differentiator useful to that kind of organizations and addresses other factors such as visualization. The result was a significant improvement on responsiveness and an increase in customer satisfaction.
Last but not least is the article on the use of Kanban on distributed onshore-offshore environments by Siddharta Govindraj and Sreekanth Tadipatri. The paper lists some difficulties on doing outsourcing and how Kanban is better suited than Scrum for it. The authors elaborate on how Kanban was applied and present nuggets of cases to illustrate the benefits obtained. They present s series of pitfalls and close with a discussion on cultural challenges encountered.