How to apply Kanban techniques during your Agile practices implementation?

As per the overall high level definition of the Kanban methodology to reduce the waste.

When we think of waste on any project, for any experienced people it can strike the following in the mind when they think with their past management experiences: 

✔  Conflicting business priorities

✔  Over allocation Issues

✔  No ROI

✔  Delivery too late with long wait cycles

✔  Unproductive meetings

✔  No optimization

✔  Working on non ROI activities

✔  Lack of tactical focus

✔  Lack of team work

✔  Lack of guidance from specialist

✔  Working on un-prioritized requirements

✔  Reactive on issues

✔  Inclusion of daily impediments

✔  Lack of pull in struck areas

How can we cope up to identify the issues related to above areas and accelerate the wast removing planning and its execution?

Some of them will have common or flowing down or upward issues. Or there can be lack of following fundamental work ethics practices. Now, let us go through some of them.

Conflicting business priorities: When we think of this kind of situations, following can be occurring with the customer stakeholders.

Due to other competent vendors of IT services, your company might want to differentiate their services with their over committing or say ‘Yes’ for everything with the customer. Some of the sales people, programme or delivery managers are committing without assessing their internal strengths and also the team deliverable capabilities at that point of time. At the same the current business priorities are not identified and informed to the team.  In reality the team’s understanding might  be different. It can create inefficient Project communication also and can lead to future failures. This kind of environment also can denote there is no moral support to the team to negotiate on the priorities.

In such situation, there will be huge gap from the non-communication of the stakeholder’s commitment to the low level technical staff.  This kind of situation not only can create havoc kind of situation to the entire team and also it demonstrates the entire team’s in-capabilities in front of the customer. 

As per the definition of Kanab this is also a kind of waste of time and the team’s efforts. Ultimately the motivation levels can be degraded by showing the non-importance of the team’s efforts and their available skills.

The main theme of Agile practices implementation can be distracted with this kind of practice.

Over allocation: To elaborate on this issue, let us consider an outsourcing kind of business environments. In many companies the project or task plans are being done from onsite either by the customer or the vendor’s managers at onsite. This plan should have approval from the customer. Most of the customers also feel since they are paying for the outsourced vendors and they have the right to dictate on the resources daily tasks, which can be a micro level management. From customer point of view this way of planning might be correct. In this case the vendor did not reveal some of the current resources are being utilized on some of their managed services [internal] projects.

Now all the resources have got the tasks in hand from the onsite and at the same time they also need to satisfy their local managers. In this case each resource has lot of tasks to complete in a day either from their internal project or from the onsite customer. At the same time, the customer thought as they might have completed their earlier tasks and new tasks have been given to them and most of them are related to demonstrate their multi skill capabilities.

Ultimately the resources concentration is on their offshore internal tasks to satisfy the direct managers. This is one case we can see the over allocation of tasks to the team members to waste their efforts and also delay the on time delivery.

In another situation, we can assume the resources are dedicated for the onsite project only with reference to the customer billing. But still they are getting more tasks due to they are demonstrating their on time completeness. This way also over allocation can happen.

We can pull out such kind of many situations in any IT service management areas. But in all this kind of situations there is a lack of understanding by the Managers or leads in view of the team members capability and intake workload assessment at that time or schedule.

At the same time in all the above situations, the concerned managers also might be under pressure to complete many tasks and deliver to the customer for higher CSAT ratings comparatively with their competent vendors. This denotes it is not only over allocating the tasks to the team and also the over commitment to the customer with lot of parallel priorities.

As we have seen the above situational issues, most of the identified waste areas can be compensated with the following questions also by applying in their regular work culture practice: 

  1. In such situations, are you really in Agile work culture environment?
  2. Do you have control on the commitments to the customer?
  3. Do you have internal team capability assessment?
  4. Do you have ongoing technical capability building of the resources?
  5. Is your project communication transparent?
  6. Is there any daily team communication practice?
  7. Are you open to communicate the customer commitments to the team regularly?
  8. Are the team members or teams collaborative to meet the targets?
  9. Are you planning for each major activity with team commitment?
  10. Are you assessing the ROI for your company and customer?
  11. Are you tracking the minutes of the meeting resolutions into actions?
  12. Are your daily stand-up calls giving the productive outcome of each team member?
  13. Is each team member communicative with others ?
  14. Are your team members support each other ?
  15. Do you keep observing on the team members knowledge sharing?
  16. Do you control on any unwanted discussions during meetings?

With all the above questions as a regular practice in any Agile based projects, it can lead to accelerate the waste removal process. And it can become as a part of your scrum meetings discussions.

But in reality remember, the waste removal will not happen by one man show. It needs entire team’s commitment on these practices. At the same time continuous team motivational sessions need to happen to keep them energetic and happy on the contributions they are doing.

The Product Owner and the relevant managers need to accelerate these practices to reap the Agile benefits to the customer or your company.

Do you apply Kanban techniques during your Agile practices implementation?

Shanthi Kumar is Certified in ITIL V3 MALC & PRINCE2 practitioner. Open for [global] leadership positions. Accomplished, outcome-oriented, with 15 plus years of global IT services companies experience within 26 plus years of overall global IT industry [only] experience. Experienced in leading business critical, complex and challenging project, programme & delivery management in India and abroad with more than 10 plus years of work experience in USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, HK & UK. Worked for business verticals; Telecom [6 plus years], BFS [6 plus years], Healthcare [2 plus years and Retail]. Performed many leadership roles for crisis management and resolution. Worked for global IT services companies for more than 15 years. You can find him at Linkedin.