Back in the old days, workflow tools required high licensing costs, database configuration and special tools to design workflows. All of this was painful and not as helpful as promised. Complex setup and configuration and time consuming change processes meant these tools became less used over time. Complexity killed these tools off.

With Kanban, the workflow can be set up simply.

  • Assume: The initial workflow is clearly understood.

  • Initial configuration:

    • Dry erase marker (physical board)

    • Press "New Lane" (virtual board)

  • Change the process configuration (possibly each iteration as lessons are learned):

    • Dry eraser and marker (physical board)

    • Press "Edit Lane" or "Move Lane" or similar words depending on the supplier (virtual board)

We learn a lot with each new customer. We often have to alter our workflow to better fit the changed circumstances. Changing a whiteboard is simple. Changing a virtual whiteboard is only slightly harder.

We have easily modified the process for various training delivery methods. In a five-iteration project, the workflow was changed four or five times. The changes were tweaks, but easy to implement. The instructor-led training course includes steps like instructor guides that we do not make for eLearning or all mobile learning.

The workflow is locally scoped to the Agile team and the team is empowered to change the workflow steps if needed. The teams have recommended changes and because the fix takes 1-2 minutes, they continue to suggest changes. On older, more rigid workflow tools, the fixes took much longer and involved approvals adding wastes of delays and transaction costs.

To apply the Theory of Constraints, Lean and measure wait time, we have "done" columns after each WIP column. The time the cards spend in the done column is waste so the team tries to minimize time spent there. The pull system and WIP limits help with this too. The definition of done also helps the team have more consistent quality built-in rather than added at the end. Done columns also help measure touch time versus wait time. Not using done columns leaves waiting time unseen and not improved.

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Line By Line

Here a Little, There a Little, Layer by Layer.

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