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Last edited 04 Mar 2022
Kanban is a project management technique that uses tools such as billboards or signs to document and streamline the various steps in processes. This scheduling system uses the visual indicators (which can be either physical or digital) to identify and prioritise demands and then realistically assign resources.
Some of the early thought leaders and authors in kanban are:
- David Anderson
- Jim Benson
- Mike Burrows
- Eric Brechner
- Tonianne DeMaria
- Siegfried Kaltenecker
- Corey Ladas
- Klaus Leopold
- Don Reinertsen
 Applying kanban
Kanban is based on six practices:
- Visualise work.
- Limit work in progress.
- Make policies explicit.
- Manage flow.
- Implement feedback loops.
- Improve collaboratively and evolve experimentally.
Kanban is a collaborative form of continuous improvement. It is not meant to overturn ongoing project management methods and can be implemented in conjunction with existing strategies. It can also be introduced incrementally, so it does not cause disruption.
 Kanban and construction
In construction applications, kanban can be used effectively with suppliers to manage resources. Kanban boards can also be used to visualise stages of work processes and identify potential problem areas.
NB The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) Glossary of procurement terms, defines Kanban as: ‘A production method where instructions are sent from one operation to the next on a card, including specific items and quantities. (Translated from the Japanese, it literally means ‘signboard’ or ‘billboard’). The aim is to reduce waste through over-production.’
The Practical Adoption of Agile Methodologies, APM Volunteer Research report, published by the Association for Project Management (APM) in May 2015, states: ‘Kanban is a method for managing knowledge work with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery while not overloading the team members. In this approach, the process, from definition of a task to its delivery to the customer, is displayed for participants to see and team members pull work from a queue’.
The Association for Project Management (APM) Agile Glossary defines kanban as: ‘a method for managing work, with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery.’ It defines a kanban board as: ‘a work and workflow visualisation tool which summarises the status, progress, and issues related to the work.’
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