Kanban doesn’t prescribe much – if you follow The Kanban Story you already know that. Kanban Board which is a key tool in Kanban isn’t pre-designed or something. You need to tailor your own. That’s how we did with our Kanban Board.
We decided to start with something simple and then adjust things as we go. We redesigned Kanban Board because it is meant to be changed. But even then it wasn’t the final shape.
When we left the board last time it looked like that.
On a general level we switched to more frequent deployments. At the beginning we didn’t have any system in production but it has changed. Sort of. Anyway our endpoint was no longer “ready to ship” – we wanted to see new features live.
Before the change we were marking MMFs as “in production” by throwing sticky notes out. The problem was there was no limit for “ready to ship” station, so features could wait there on a huge stack waiting for deployment. Something rather opposite to what we’d like to see.
The other thing which pinched me was documentation. We had a stage for this purpose but it appeared we were documenting after we’d pushed feature into production. This was perfectly fine since we don’t sell boxes with up-to-date documentation inside and it was no problem at all to have documentation updated a couple of days after deployment. The problem was our Kanban board didn’t correspond with this.
After playing with some ideas we came with version 3.0 of our Kanban Board.
The left part hasn’t changed at all. We were happy with it.
The first change was merging “test” and “ready to ship” columns into one under the name of the former. What we got was testing stage which was separated into ongoing and completed phases. When a feature was tested it was ready to ship. We no longer expected documentation to be updated before shipping since we weren’t working like this anyway.
Another thing was adding “live” column which means feature was successfully deployed. I didn’t like the idea of adding another “deployment” station since deployment is very fast in our case.
Documentation was left as the last but one column and at the end “done” station emerged. After all it is such a nice name for a column.
Redesigned part of the Kanban Board reflected our workflow much better but required also limits adjustments. Instead of rethinking whether we should add 1 here and subtract one there I wiped out all limits and rethought them from the beginning.
Limits of 3 for “todo” and 4 for “development” had worked well so they got their way back to the board.
The next one, and the hard part, was limit for “live” station. Remember our pseudo-iterations? Because of this approach we deploy a few features at once. So far there were two or three in each package. However it happened a couple of times that an emergency feature was added during a pseudo-iteration. Since this kind of feature was meant be included in the same deployment package this made a maximum of 4 MMFs possibly being shipped at once. That’s how “live” stage got its limit.
The same reasoning applied to “test” station. Since it was possible to move 4 sticky notes at once to “live” column, they all had to be taken from the previous one, thus we couldn’t set there anything less than 4. We didn’t want to set anything more either, so the lucky number was exactly this: 4.
“Documentation” got a limit of 2 since it’s often convenient to document 2 corresponding features at the same time.
Looks like we get more and more columns over time. I just wonder whether that’s a good thing.
If you liked the post you may want to read the whole Kanban Story.