What is Agile Kanban Methodology?

Lean development practices are based on the lean methodologies that have been used successfully in manufacturing processes. Kanban is a lean software development methodology that focuses on just-in-time delivery of functionality and managing the amount of work in progress (WIP).

Lean Software Development

Lean Software Development is a set of principles to deliver software according to the principles of lean manufacturing. In a lean environment, activities or processes that result in the expenditure of effort and/or resources towards goals that are not producing value for the customer should be eliminated. Essentially, lean is centered on preserving value with less work. Lean approaches are often called six-sigma or Just-In Time (JIT).

Kanban Overview

In general, Kanban is a scheduling system for lean and other JIT processes. In a Kanban process, there are physical (or virtual) “cards” called Kanban that move through the process from start to finish. The aim is to keep a constant flow of Kanban so that as inventory is required at the end of the process, just that much is created at the start.

Kanban in Software Development

When used for software development, Kanban uses the stages in the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to represent the different stages in the manufacturing process. The aim is to control and manage the flow of features (represented by Kanban cards) so that the number of features entering the process matches those being completed.

Kanban is an agile methodology that is not necessarily iterative. Processes like Scrum have short iterations which mimic a project lifecycle on a small scale, having a distinct beginning and end for each iteration. Kanban allows the software be developed in one large development cycle. Despite this, Kanban is an example of an agile methodology because it fulfils all twelve of the principles behind the Agile manifesto, because whilst it is not iterative, it is incremental.

The principle behind Kanban that allows it to be incremental and Agile, is limited throughput. With no iterations a Kanban project has no defined start or end points for individual work items; each can start and end independently from one another, and work items have no pre-determined duration for that matter. Instead, each phase of the lifecycle is recognized as having a limited capacity for work at any one time. A small work item is created from the prioritized and unstarted requirements list and then begins the development process, usually with some requirements elaboration. A work item is not allowed to move on to the next phase until some capacity opens up ahead. By controlling the number of tasks active at any one time, developers still approach the overall project incrementally which gives the opportunity for Agile principles to be applied.

Kanban projects have Work In Progress (WIP) limits which are the measure of capacity that keeps the development team focused on only a small amount of work at one time. It is only as tasks are completed that new tasks are pulled into the cycle. WIP limits should be fine-tuned based on comparisons of expected versus actual effort for tasks that complete.

Kanban does not impose any role definition as say, Scrum does and along with the absence of formal iterations, role flexibility makes Kanban attractive to those who have been using waterfall-style development models and want to change but are afraid of the initial upheaval something like Scrum can cause while being adopted by a development team.

What Makes SpiraTeam the Best for Kanban Projects

When your company requires better Kanban project management, there are a lot of choices in the marketplace. However, if you want the best in Kanban project management there is only one solution.

SpiraTeam® is a complete Kanban project management system in one package, that manages your project's requirements, releases, tasks and bugs/issues. Designed specifically to support agile methodologies such as Kanban, it allows teams to manage all their information in one environment.

Kanban Boards

SpiraTeam provides a Kanban view of the project, where you can see all of the requirements planned for each release organized according to their position in the lifecycle. This view lets you see the flow of the requirements and identify then rectify any bottlenecks:

SpiraTeam has dedicated Kanban boards for tasks and incidents / defects, so that it makes it easy to run both development and maintenance projects using the same system:

Work In Progress (WIP)

SpiraTeam lets project managers define the Work In Progress (WIP) limits for each of their releases (and sprints).

Work In Progress (WIP) limits set the maximum number of requirements that the product team can efficiently manage at each stage of their Kanban process. Using WIP limits can be a useful way for teams to manage their work, allowing them to get through their work faster. This is done by focusing only tasks that can be done now (in other words, the work that can in-progress at any one time).

When you have WIP limits configured in the Planning Options you will see the new WIP X/Y pill shaped badge in the planning board headers when you choose Group by Status:

This pill shaped badge is displayed on each relevant status, along with the number of requirement cards in that status for that release/sprint.

  • A status with "space" in it - one where the WIP limit has not been exceeded yet - will be shown in green
  • Any status that has exceeded its WIP limit will be shown in red. You can still move cards into this status: the color is there as an indicator only

Reporting Dashboards

SpiraTeam® provides reporting dashboards of key project quality and progress indicators - requirements test coverage, task progress, project velocity, as well as top risk and issues – in one consolidated view that is tailor-made for Kanban projects as well as supporting your legacy/hybrid waterfall projects.

The top reasons that our customers choose SpiraTeam® over other Kanban project management solutions are:

  • Highly intuitive web application that provides a complete picture of a project’s status and health yet requires only a web-browser.
  • Available as both a SaaS/hosted service and an on-premise deployment, SpiraTeam® is both affordable and easy to deploy for your Kanban projects.

In addition, we provide superb technical support that ensures that enquiries and questions are dealt with in a timely and professional manner.

How do I Get Started?

To learn more about SpiraTeam and how it can improve your Kanban project management methodology, please:

Why Should I Use Rapise For My Kanban Projects?

One of the key tenets of both Kanban and Lean methodologies in general is that continuous improvement is central to improving the flow of work through the system. The unrepeatable nature of manual testing (whilst great for finding unexpected issues) is not sufficient for a commitment to continually improving quality.

You need a test automation solution that can be integrated fully into your development process and that be adapted to your changing needs and be used to increasingly automate your testing process through each release, improving repeatability and consistency:

Rapise is the most powerful and flexible automated testing tool on the market. With support for testing desktop, web and mobile applications, Rapise can be used by testers, developers and business users to rapidly and easily create automated tests that integrate with your requirements and other project artifacts in SpiraTeam.

Self-Healing Tests

One of the obstacles to implementing test automation on an agile Kanban project is that the application’s user interface may be changing frequently, with new pushes to production daily. Therefore, it is critical that tests created one day, continue to work seamlessly the next.

Rapise comes with a built-in machine learning engine that records multiple different ways to locate each UI object and measures that against user feedback to determine the probabilistic likelihood of a match. This means that even when you change the UI, Rapise can still execute the test and determine if there is a failure or not.

How do I Get Started?

To learn more about Rapise and how it can improve your Kanban software testing please:

Try our products free for 30 days, no credit cards, no contracts

Free Trial Please!

And if you have any questions, please email or call us at +1 (202) 558-6885