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Elyssa Pallai

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Digital marketer and translator, Elyssa spends her time putting NPD and engineering concepts into plain english and working on new and meaningful ways to connect with Playbook's amazing clients.

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Why Kanban Boards Alone Don't Cut it in Lean Project Management

Elyssa Pallai- 03/14/19 03:26 PM

Kanban and Lean Project Management

Have you seen The Martian? In this movie, Matt Damon is an astronaut stranded on Mars. He wants to get home, but the odds are stacked against him. He has a limited set of resources and has to overcome what seem to be insurmountable risks before he can get there. In the end, Matt worked with a small team of highly innovative, motivated product developers from NASA and JPL to work on a multitude of problems, quickly, to get to the final outcome of the movie (I won't spoil the ending for you!).

While watching the movie I couldn't help but think that new product development teams are on a similar journey...

Thankfully their home base is (most of the time) on Earth.

In Matt’s case, there was only one channel of communication and a small team of people at work. They had all the information they needed on hand and could (often times) quickly solve problems together.  Similarly when the team is small and the number projects are limited to one, Kanban boards or visual management project boards (electronic or manual) work well. But as teams grow and the number of projects expand, their limitations become evident.

Why Kanban Boards (alone) don't work in complex environments

For example, even with one project on the go, Kanban boards don’t show the critical chain, so project teams can’t see what work needs to be prioritized, where critical hand-offs need to take place or how the work fits in the context on the way to reaching their goal.

As project teams multiply, administering multiple boards becomes unwieldy and resource loading across a company is not visible.

In this complex setting -- multiple teams with multiple projects - is where Playbook really shines. With Playbook, not only can you see the Kanban/Project board view, it's also combined with a Gantt chart view of the entire plan. Teams can see the critical path and where they fit in. This is what sets Playbook apart.

The big "aha" moment for visual work management boards

The big aha moment for project teams is when they realize they can contribute directly to the success of the project simply through having visibility of the work that needs to get done. Now that they can see the work, they can be proactive, innovative and successful.

Playbook is the best of both worlds - Gantt and Kanban.

So, if you have multiple projects and multiple project teams and need to be able to not only see what your individual workload is, but also want to how your work fits into the overall plan, Playbook is for your organization.  

The benefits of Kanban and Gantt for product development

With Playbook teams can:

  1. See individual work and the priority of that work, across projects.
  2. Have context about where their work fits in the critical path.
  3. See the impact of any change instantly and can implement mitigation strategies accordingly. For example, taking on a critical task if someone is unavailable or overloaded.
  4. Engage in decentralized planning so that risks are uncovered in a timely manner.
  5. Effectively run daily meetings and be forward-looking in their weekly meetings vs. just engaging in a weekly update.
  6. Manage multiple projects and resources from one place.
  7. See loading can across multiple projects.
  8. View templates of past plans so teams don’t have to begin planning from scratch.
  9. Predict future performance based on past performance.

For example, teams can see what the lead time was for a particular vendor in the past and plan accordingly.

Conclusion

All these benefits add up to faster project delivery and happier teams--teams that feel connected to their work and their team members.

So, if you find yourself trapped on Mars and need to manage multiple projects and project teams to get home safely, I’d bet on Playbook.

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Watch this 9-minute video and discover the real cause of project delays. It's not what you think. 

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