The competition in every industry is now neck-wrenching, and in such circumstances, relying on the old tool methods of productivity and workflow management can prove fatal. Even if you are running a small business with limited employees and budget, you must have an impeccable workflow management method; it gives a competitive advantage in every industry. And when anyone talks about productivity and workflow management methods, the first name that pops up is Kanban.
Kanban is a Japanese word that means billboard. Kanban is a crucial part of the Toyota Production System, and it was Toyota that led the foundation of the Kanban system. The main goal behind using the Kanban board was to promote the ‘just in time’ approach as it minimizes waste and helps in focusing on essential tasks. Kanban board is effective in lean manufacturing since both the methodology leads to reduced wastage of resources, time, and effort.
In this article, we will cover every aspect of the Kanban method so that you can use it in the best possible manner.
Table of Contents
The origin of the Kanban board
Retail stores inspired the idea of Kanban. However, before the use of the Kanban system, a push approach was used in Toyota manufacturing units. In this type of approach, the number of manufactured products was decided based on the customer demand forecast done by experts. However, since forecasts are not an accurate way of making decisions, they led to overproduction and overprocessing.
The pull method was implemented by taking the idea of the inventory management system used by retail stores. In this method, the manufactured quantity was decided based on actual sales. It led to the basic foundation of the Kanban board.
The essential tools of a Kanban board are cards. These cards show that a specific item was sold in lean production, which demands the beginning of a new task in the production process. And the entire production process is based on Kanban card visualization.
The Kanban system includes or encourages the JIT approach, demand-driven system, and constant improvement. All these approaches and strategies used in the Kanban system lead to reduced wastage and better production or inventory management processes.
The primary thought process behind the Kanban system
Human beings are visual beings since our brain can store more information from a couple of pictures than an entire novel. In addition to this, our brain has better processing ability when it comes down to visuals.
So, instead of just reading a list of pending things in the production process, we can better track the inventory if everything is present in a visual format; This was the primary thought process behind introducing a visual tool system instead of just words and texts for productivity and workflow management.
The four fundamental principles of Kanban
Although there are many things that you need to cover while implementing or using a Kanban board in your firm, here are the four critical principles of Kanban that you must focus on.
Visualized work-Use visual representation instead of text for getting rid of bottlenecks and for identifying the long queues.
Limit work in progress– Narrow down focus and set priorities while managing overloads. With an ideal amount of work in progress, the team can stay on track and maintain its efficiency.
Focus on the flow– Analyze the entire workflow tool for streamlining productivity and improve the overall workflow of the process.
Continuous improvement– Work on constant improvement rather than making changes once a year. Kaizen is the word used in the Toyota Production Unit for continual improvement, and this word is also used in the Kanban board.
Physical board or software?
One of the essential debate topics among firms is whether to use a physical board or a software solution for Kanban. The best way to thrive on the advantage of the Kanban system is to use a software solution.
With a physical board, the team members will have to return to the office to assess the progress of every task. Therefore, the advantages of using the Kanban method will be limited to office hours only.
But when you use a software solution for the Kanban method, everyone gets access to the digital board on their screen. Every team member can keep track of things to be done and what is still pending at all times.
The Kanban method is currently the most effective way of minimizing waste while working on continuous improvement. And since using the Kanban method is easy, it can be used by every firm out there. Just make sure that you use a software system for the board instead of an actual physical board.
Featured Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash