Steps: Use Kanban


  1. Get Buy-In for Kanban
  2. Identify the Kanban Guidance Roles
  3. Organize the Kanban Team
  4. Define Kanban Process
  5. Set Up Tracker for Kanban
  6. Fill the Backlog
  7. Begin Kanban Process
  8. Perform Daily Kanban Tasks

Get Buy-In for Kanban

  1. Perform any “Decide to Change” step sets you need to, modifying the proposal deck for Kanban.
  2. If Kanban is approved, continue to the next set.
    Warning: Kanban should not be used for project work.

Details: “A Question of Frequency.”

Identify the Kanban Guidance Roles

  1. Perform the “Guidance Roles” steps for these roles:
    1. Required roles:
      1. Product Owner.
      2. Facilitator for Daily Standups and Weekly Retrospectives, if different, using the “Facilitator” steps.
    2. Optional:
      1. Customer—needed if you are not supporting:
        • Scrum teams, in which case their POs are your customers.
        • End users directly.
      2. Architect(s).
      3. Agile Liaison(s).
  2. If you are an Individual Contributor supporting teams using releases:
    1. Meet with the Agile Release Manager, if there is one, or PO(s) if not, to determine whether you will participate in the Phase 2 Release Planning and Joint Demos.
    2. Skip the next steps set.
  3. Otherwise, continue to the next set.

Organize the Kanban Team

Team, in meetings facilitated by the Product Owner:

  1. Perform the “Team Charter” step sets.
  2. Perform “Create Quality Process,” if you do not already have a similar defect management process.
  3. Perform “Set Meeting Schedule,” only for:
    • Daily Standups.
    • Weekly Retrospectives.
  4. Continue to the next set.

Define Kanban Process

Team, in meetings facilitated by the Product Owner:

  1. Decide how to track your work:
    • Adopt the tracker used by your Scrum teams.
    • Continue using your current tracker.
      Caution: If you are supporting Scrum teams, there must be a “connector” for integrating the tools.
    • Choose a tracker, if you do not have one and are not supporting Scrum teams.
      Details: “Choose a Tracker.”
  2. Identify your Kanban states:
    1. Draft a list of tasks most of your deliverables go through in most cases.
    2. Add at least one intake state before that list, and an “Accepted” state after the last one.
    3. Define the exit criteria for each state.
    4. Finalize the list, noting it can be changed in a Retrospective.
      Details: Determine States and Exit Criteria.”
  3. Decide which states will have WIP limits.
  4. For each, set an initial limit, possibly based on either:
    • Throughput—number of requests completed in a given time period—if known.
    • Two stories per team member.
      Details: “Start Simple.”
  5. Decide how to handle blocked stories relative to WIP limits.
    Details: “Deal with Blockers and Story Defects.”
  6. Document your Kanban decisions in your Team Charter or procedure location, and attain consensus on the descriptions.
  7. Continue to the next set.

Set Up Tracker for Kanban

Product Owner:

  1. Perform the steps shown for the option the team chose:
    • Scrum team tool:
      1. Request a backlog (section of the tool) for your team from the tool administrator.
      2. Arrange:
        1. Editing rights for team members.
        2. Viewer rights for stakeholders.
      3. Schedule user training for team members with the admin.
      4. Meet with the admin to learn any extra skills useful to you as PO.
    • Current tool—If you are supporting Scrum teams, meet with the admin to arrange integration between your tool and theirs.
    • New tool—Perform the steps sets under “Tracker.”
  2. Enter your WIP limits and exit criteria in the tracker.
  3. If there is a separate tool for submitting requests, configure it to place requests into the correct backlog and state.
  4. Continue to the next set.

Fill the Backlog

Product Owner:

  1. Begin using the format for all new requirements created by the team.
  2. If your customers are Scrum teams:
    1. Communicate to the Product Owners that they should provide all future work requests in the standard user story format.
    2. If you have a request entry tool separate from the tracker, provide instructions for its use.
    3. If not, consider giving the POs editing rights in your backlog and asking them to put stories there.
    4. Skip to Step 3.
  3. In a team meeting, facilitate a decision on the format the team’s stories will use.
  4. Convert your existing requests into the correct format.
  5. If you have people in the Customer role:
    1. Schedule a meeting and provide training on the correct format.
    2. Provide instructions for submitting stories, whether to you or via digital entry.
      Details: “Feed the Backlog.”
  6. Continue to the next set.

Begin Kanban Process

Product Owner:

  1. Facilitate a team decision on when to start the process.
  2. Communicate that date to stakeholders.
  3. On the start date, if using a different tracker, move current requests to it.
    Note: There is no need to transfer completed requests, assuming the old tool remains accessible for research.
  4. Monitor WIP limit issues, and propose a change after a few weeks if needed.
    Details: “Respect and Refine the WIP.”
  5. Continue to the next set.

Perform Daily Kanban Tasks

Team Members, each day:

  1. Work on any stories you already started.
  2. When a story meets the exit criteria for that state:
    • If there is a slot in the WIP limit for the next state (or no limit), move it to that state.
    • If not:
      1. Mark the story card as ready to move, and place it at the top of the current state’s column (but below any other “ready” stories).
      2. Notify the team in your next Daily Standup that the story is ready to move.
  3. When ready for new work, if you are blocked by a WIP limit from taking up a story:
    1. See if you can take any stories in the column.
    2. See if any teammates already working on the stories can use some help.
    3. Self-train on skills or do research that will help you take a wider range of stories.
    4. Keep an eye on the needed state, and take a new story as soon as a slot opens.

Details: “Respect and Refine the WIP.”

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