Kanban – Successful Evolutionary Change For Your Technology Business – Book Review

The book ‘Kanban’ by David Anderson shows how you can apply the Lean principle of Kanban to software development. Unlike scrum which has a heavily defined method, Kanban provides a framework and recommends an evolutionary change to improving the way of working. It highlights key principles such as limited WIP (work in progress), visualisation of work, making things flow, making process policies explicit and using models to recognise improvement opportunities. The Kanban method developed by David Anderson provides a way of clearly showing the state of a project, which is often hidden in standard projects. It also limits the WIP, as having too many items running at the same time will slow everything down. There are an optimal number of cars on a highway; if too many you get a gridlock, while too few and you have excess resource not being used. This is the same with software development and the Kanban method helps to visualise the traffic and optimise it. The third key point is to make items flow. This is about clearly visualising the bottlenecks and then being able to address them. The fourth point is about making policies explicit, for example, “what are the steps this work follows and what do you need to complete before you pass it on?” Lastly, it is about improvement and continually improving the process.
The book then covers the benefits of the Kanban method and follows on with how to implement Kanban.
I read this book about four years ago and implemented some of the practices found in this book to run a number of projects. However, after re-reading this book to write this review, I can now see the clear link to the literature I have been studying in Lean and the use of better knowledge of Lean when applying these principles. You can take this book as a manual on the way to work, but it is more beneficial if you get into understanding the principles behind this book, rather than just using it as a manual.
If you want to apply the Kanban method to software development this is a good book to buy.  It is available at Amazon here.  We at LeanIT have considerable experience in running projects in this way.  If you have questions give us a call to discuss.