Kanban - Lean and Agile


In Agile Kanban, the user stories are broken into tasks and Kanban cards are used to track the tasks on the Kanban board. Agile Kanban has a concept of iteration that is not present in Kanban. Further, no processes are considered.

Kanban in Value Stream

Kanban is defined to be executed in value stream with focus on delivery of value. Kanban in software development can be visualized as the features flowing across the value stream. All the Kanban characteristics (Refer Chapter - Characteristics of Kanban in this Tutorial) are met in the Kanban approach for software development.

Feature Kanban Board

Feature Kanban Board is used to track the Feature Driven Development with Kanban Approach. Each Feature is assigned to a particular release. The columns in the Kanban board represent releases. Hence, each column contains all the features assigned to the release represented by it.

Each feature is broken into stories. Each release is broken into iterations. The iteration is executed in an Agile Development approach. This can be treated as a sub-stream in the value stream, with the stories to be completed within that iteration assigned to it.

Agile Kanban in Sub-stream

Agile Kanban approach is followed within each sub-stream that is implemented as an iteration. Each story is broken into tasks in the iteration. Task Kanban board is used to track the status and progress of the story development tasks. The current status of each task is known by displaying the cards in separate columns on the board. The columns are labeled as To Do, Doing, and Done. Each task moves from To Do to Doing and then to Done.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous delivery to the customer is ensured with features tracked on feature Kanban board and stories representing features tracked on task Kanban board.

Delivery through a release is accomplished by −

  • Continuous tracking
  • Constant communication with the customer
  • Adjusting development plan as required
  • Focusing on delivery of value to the customer

Agile development as well as Kanban maintain team collaboration. This, in turn helps in identifying and resolving Bottlenecks immediately as required by Kanban. This results in accomplishment of all the needed tasks within the iteration to deliver quality product, which meets customer expectations.

Continuous Process Improvement

Kanban supports process improvements to enhance the delivery approach continuously.

Consider a requirement that is a change or addition to the product. In such a case, Kanban cards can be used to visualize the requirement passing through the processes of analysis, design, development, product integration and testing. This is different from the Waterfall approach in the sense that it does not require completion of one process for all the requirements to flow to the next process in the sequence.

Such an implementation of Kanban in product maintenance allows maintainability, reliability and integrity of the product. The required process improvements are gathered at regular intervals and implemented on a continuous basis.

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