Kanban method

How to apply the Kanban method to project management

The Kanban method was developed as a methodology to improve production efficiency.

The Japanese word “Kanban” means “billboard” in English and it was born in the company of Toyota, in Japan.

Today this method is widely used.

Nowadays, the Kanban method is not only used as a planning system for lean production, but also in Agile projects in order to manage the backlog of activities.

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”
What is a Kanban Board?
What are Kanban cards?
How to use the Kanban method in project management
The Kanban method in the software

********************

Actually, thanks to the popularity of Kanban, there are now countless project management tools that follow this method. The goal is to help people plan and prioritize.

The advantages of this method are different.

Kanban cards work like visual panels with virtual notes that can be added.

These notes can be moved to organize the order of activities or in order to prioritize the things to do.

Kanban method

Therefore, the Kanban method enables more flexible planning options, a quickier output, as well as more carefullness and transparency throughout the project life cycle.

The Toyota company, where this system was first implemented, has created six rules that permit to apply the Kanban method to the production process.

Today, people and project managers of the most different sectors use the Kanban method for planning and managing activities and their priorities.

In fact, Kanban is a structured process of prioritization.

What is a Kanban Board?

A Kanban Board is like a blackboard.

A space in which Kanban cards  stand for the individual activities that have to performed and are categorized based on priority and delivery.

Nowadays, Kanban cards are used mainly as online softwares, or in some cases are directly integrated in more complex project management softwares.

In general, they allow to track the work flow not only of a team, but also of the single collaborators.

It is particularly used by the software development teams that follow the Agile methodology.

It is used to define user history and the activity priorities in the backlog or as a collaboration tool for innovation.

If we consider the most basic (and more structured) form, the Kanban card can be divided into three levels:

  • Work/activity in standby;
  • Work/activity in progress;
  • Work/activity completed;

Obviously, the complexity of the card depends on the goal of the project.

As every task is completed, team members move Kanban cards through the different sections of the board.

Kanban cards allow to:

  • Visualize the workflow;
  • Limit the number of activities in progress;
  • Move an activity from one section to another;
  • Monitor, adapt, and improve the process.

What are Kanban cards?

The Kanban method can be considerated as a system of knowledge and the cards permit to represent each singular object of work or activity.

Each Kanban card includes the critical data for the specific activity to which it refers.

The cards have different colors that indicate the type of task performed.

Different colors can also refer to other distinctions that have been agreed upon at the beginning of the project.

Some of the ways a Kanban card helps teams and project managers: 

  • Quick understanding of the details of every activity/task;
  • Easy communication within the team;
  • Information on documents;
  • Support with the future workflow.

How to use the Kanban method in project management

In order to manage different projects in an efficient and productive way, different methodologies are required.

In general, the Kanban method is an excellent tool for planning the project and prioritizing the activities.

It can increase team efficiency, optimize time management, as well as allow a more fluid and simple overall project management.

It is also excellent for supporting with resource allocation, workflow management and waste reduction.

Here is why in more detail:

Use the Kanban method to: Assign resources

The first step is to create the activities and then assign them to a team member.

It’s fundamental to make sure that the right people are working on the right job in the proper manner.

This will help to correctly manage the work, without blocking any other member of the team or delaying production.

Everytime a new project activity is added into the workflow, the right resource can be assigned to it in a easy and quick way.

Use the Kanban method to: Workflow management

The Kanban method is a perfect tool that allows to visualize the workflow of any project.

The workflow is a sequential series of activities and the Kanban card with its visual representation makes everything more understandable.

Kanban method

Thanks to the observation on how activities are related, collaboration within the team will be promoted and at the same time greater efficiency and productivity can be achieved.

Use the Kanban method to: Reduce waste

The reduction of waste, whether of resources or costs in general, is not only the rule of a lean system.

Every project manager is interested in obtaining results in this sense.

Kanban cards help in the identification of a probable expensive process.

Something that does not work as planned, an overproduction or a situation where team members are blocking the workflow are easily detectable.

The big advantage lies in detecting these factors before they become problems.

There is no limit to the number of cards, integrations and workflow management that the Kanban method allows.

This method can work not only in a small company with a single office, but also in a multinational company with offices all around the world.

The Kanban method in the software

The common thread that permits to use all the advantages of this method is a project management software.

For this reason, we added in TWproject the Kanban functionality in order to organize the to-do-list of the project.

The Issues that in Twproject are used as to-do can be easily managed with the Kanban multi-dimensional of TWproject.

Indeed, it allows to organize the issues in a fully visual way.

It is possible to move them and organize them by task, assignee, status or severity degree.

Shortly, a very flexible multi-dimensional Kanban.

Kanban method

Do you also use the Kanban method for your projects?

Give us your suggestion and tell us about your experience.

Use the Kanban feature to organize the to-do-list of the project

A proof is worth a thousand words.
the sixth edition of the PMbok

The sixth edition of PMbok

General overview and differences from the fifth edition

At the end of 2017, the sixth edition of the PMbok was published. 

Let’s start from the base: what is the PMbok?

It is the Project Management Body of Knowledge, a guide, published by the Project Management Institute – PMI, which aims to document, gather and standardize the practices generally used and recognized in project management.

“Generally recognized” practices means the ones that can be applied to most projects and on which there is a widespread consensus on their value and usefulness.

This means that sometimes the latest project management trends promoted by some consultants, even if interesting from an evolutionary point of view, may not be part of the latest version of the PMbok, because they are not “generally recognized” practices.

The PMbok made its debut in 1987 and it has evolved over the years, up to the current sixth edition of 2017.

But which are the PMbok changes from the fifth edition to the current one?

Let’s summarize the differencies in this article.

 

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”

Increase of total chapters
The areas of knowledge
The new three processes
6 changes in existing processes
Who will be affected by these changes?

********************

PMBOK sixth edition: Increase of total chapters

In the fifth edition of PMbok five groups of processes were listed:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Monitoring and Control
  5. Closing

The number of processes remain unchanged in the sixth edition, but what changes is the number of sub-processes within each process.

Furthermore, in the fifth edition there were a total of 13 chapters. In the sixth edition we find instead a new chapter that deals with the role of the project manager and its functions.

In addition to this, the skills and competences that a project manager must possess are now aligned with the so-called Triangle of Talent.

It is not enough to have technical skills, but due to the dynamism of the working environment and the evolutionary trends in the sector, it is necessary that the project manager possesses also additional skills. The most relevant include:

 

  • Strategic and corporate management: It is necessary to understand the progress and the functioning of the company business in order to adapt the project to it. The project manager must therefore possess the skills to analyze the competition, the market, know the legal implications, business models, etc.
  • Leadership skills: In the fifth edition of the PMbok, this skill is already explained, but the new edition gives it more emphasis. Among the leadership skills, we find emotional intelligence, problem solving, team building and the ability to influence and motivate the team;
  • Technical skills: This refers mainly to the sector in which a person works and the specific skills required for the project.

 The sixth edition of the PMbok: The knowledge areas

In the fifth edition of PMbok 10 areas of knowledge were listed.

These still remain in the sixth edition, but two appear with new names, as specified in the following list:

  1. Integration Management
  2. Scope Management
  3. Time Management is replaced by Schedule Management
  4. Cost Management
  5. Quality Management
  6. Human Resource Management is replaced by Resource Management
  7. Communications Management
  8. Risk Management
  9. Procurement Management
  10. Stakeholder Management

Why these two changes?

The new term Resource Management refers not only to the human workforce, but also to the physical resources (such as materials, equipment, licenses, etc.) that can be part of a project and contribute to its success.

Time Management has been replaced with Schedule Management, so that the importance of project management planning is emphasized.

 

the sixth edition of the PMbok

Moreover, in the sixth edition of the PMbok, each area of knowledge has four additional sections:

Furthermore, in the sixth edition of the PMbok, each area of knowledge will have four additional sections:

  • Key concepts;
  • Tailoring considerations: they must help to focus on the important processes of a project depending to its size and, of course, on the scope of work;
  • Developments and new project management practices;
  • Focus on the Agile  and adaptive Methodology.

PMBOK sixth edition: The three new processes

The sixth edition of the PMbok lists 49 processes, 2 more than the last edition.

In reality the changes to the processes are 4 because the three processes have been added while one has been eliminated.

The Close Procurement process has been removed. This refers to the closing of vendor contracts, a task that in most organizations is not performed by the project manager.

Among the new processes added we find:

  1. Manage Project Knowledge: born from the need to process the data of the market and the business in which the company operates to transform them into knowledge and “wisdom” on which certain decisions will be based. Knowledge is a power that will help the project manager to use data processing technologies and make decisions based on concrete analysis;
  2. Implement Risk Response: PMI surveys have stated that most project failures are due to improper risk management. Therefore, implementing the risk response in the management of the project is a necessary addition;
  3. Control Resources: this new process refers to the monitoring and control of the various resources present in the project and is aligned with the modification, seen previously, in the area of knowledge from human resources.

PMBOK sixth edition: 6 changes in existing processes

6 processes are renamed in the current PMbok edition, even if their content remains unchanged:

  1. Perform Quality Assurance becomes Manage Quality.
  2. Plan Human Resource Management becomes Plan Resource Management.
  3. Control Communications becomes Monitor Communications.
  4. Control Risks becomes Monitor Risks.
  5. Plan Stakeholder Management becomes Plan Stakeholder Engagement.
  6. Control Stakeholder Engagement becomes Monitor Stakeholder Engagement.

From Perform Quality Assurance to Manage Quality. This refers to the fact that, while quality assurance is a way to manage quality during execution, in reality there are also other qualitative aspects to consider.

This overall quality management is what reflects the name change.

The change from “Control” to “Monitor” indicates that, during the execution of the project, we monitor it to understand what is happening everyday and personalize the strategy to meet the changing needs.

the sixth edition of the PMbok

Points 5 and 6 on stakeholders refer to the essential factor of understanding how to involve the stakeholders to ensure that everyone agrees with progress and results.

Who will be affected by these changes?

The role of the Project Manager is becoming more and more important and is spreading in every sectors; this is why the need to certify its skills increases.

The PMbok then becomes a fundamental text for all those who are dealing with an official exam to get the title of Project Manager.

Nowadays, there are five internationally recognized certifications:

 

  • CAPM – Certified Associate in Project Management
  • PMP – Project Management Professional
  • PgMP – Program Management Professional
  • PMI-SP – PMI Scheduling Professional
  • PMI-RMP – PMI Risk Management Professional
  • PMI-ACP – PMI Agile Certified Practitioner

Regardless of the type of certification, students and prospective Project Managers will refer to the Pmbok and, consequently, their work will for sure be influenced by the changes in the sixth edition of PMbok.

But not only.

Even a certified Project Manager must be updated on the changes contained in the new edition of PMbok.

Being up-to-date is the best quality of a serious and competent professional.

A careful reading of the new edition of the Pmbok will certainly be useful and a source of interesting reflections that could help guiding any type of project in an efficient and professional manner.

Leave us your comment or your impression on the new edition of the Pmbok.

 

Get familiar with the phases of your project.

Tips & Tricks: Create Projects by E-mail

Even if I’ve worked with Twproject for several years I get surprised every day by  its number of hidden features. The one that I show you today could really help you, if, for example, you cannot access the application and you have to create a task to save information that you can loose otherwise.

Twproject is able to create a task, with document attached and assignments simply reading an email written in a specific yet simple defined format.

Example:

Email Subject
NEW PROJECT Twproject Mobile Release 3.0
Email Message
CODE TW_MOB3.0
START 08/11/2016
END 15/03/2017
A complete redesigned user interface and functionality for Twproject mobile app.

This email will create a task with name “Twproject Mobile Release 3.0” and code “TW_MOB3.0”. As you can imagine this task will start on the eight of November and it will end in the middle of March.
All the text of the message will be saved inside the description, and last but not least, in case you attach documents to this e-mail, those will be saved as document in the task.

Twproject security model works also in this case, the sender e-mail, in fact,  needs to be related to a user with task create permission.

ScreenShot005

Is that simple, isn’t it? You can even create a template of your message that you can use to compose it in seconds!

 

 

The Map For Great Customization – Twproject Objects Reference

One of the most interesting characteristics of Twproject is the great customization capability that it offers to all its customers. Customizable dashboards and web parts, custom fields on all main objects, custom filters, custom Excel exports, this is what Twproject lets you modify in order to best fit your own work habits.

In order to help you generating great reports in few minutes we recently introduced an interactive page showing a complete Twproject Objects reference. Navigation between Twproject Objects is intuitive giving you access to the complete set of field you can add in your own report.

This new page is available from the customizing page in the admin section, let’s see an example of how to use it.

Say I want to modify the Excel Export on my task list adding task start date, the number of issues created, the number of open ones and also the first custom field I’ve added on my tasks.

First of all I need to go in the admin page in the Excel customization part and change the value of the CUSTOM_EXPORT_EXCEL_TASK field.

Custom Excel is created reading a JSON object specifying the name of the column and the values.

Clicking on “see Twproject’s object reference” you will be able to navigate all the task fields and methods finding all data you need to read:

ScreenShot113

The number of total issues, the open ones and the custom field are available directly on the object as fields using:

  obj.totalIssuesOpen
  obj.totalIssues
  obj.customField1

Instead there is not a direct start date field but a schedule which represents a Period object that can be navigated.

Navigating the Period object you will find the start field, reachable this way:

obj.getSchedule().getStartDate()

So here is what you have to write in the export customization field:

{"id":"obj.id","code":"obj.code","start":"obj.getSchedule().getStartDate()",
"status":"obj.status","custom Field 1": "obj.customField1", "total issues": "obj.totalIssues", 
"total open issues":"obj.totalIssuesOpen"}

Navigating all Twproject object is really easy using this reference, but in case you need help writing your Excel export do not hesitate and write us.

Let’s check this new feature.

Lots more…

Twproject facilitates user interaction and at the same time offers tools and tricks for the power user.

Languages, dates, currency

Twproject is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Russian, Slovenian, Chinese and Japanese. You can easily create and modify labels. Notice that also non-latin alphabets are supported. So also aesthetic and linguistic preferences can be satisfied. Moreover, dates and currency handling can be configured to adapt to your regional settings on a user basis.

Search anywhere from everywhere

The search field in the menu accepts a “prefix syntax” of search shortcuts: by default it searches in resources, t: searches in tasks, d: in documents, etc. . Notice how what you’ve written appears in the resulting filter, and can be further refined.

Templates

Any project can be used as template for any other. This holds for sub-trees, assignments, issues and more.

Cross links from any text

You can refer and link to any “entity” from any descriptive field. For example, you can link any task, resource or issue from any event in the agenda. You can link any other task from a project description or deliverable. Same from the issue description and so on.

Query by example (QBE)

The query by example search method offers an easy way to compose complex queries, by using operators in the search fields. Even date functions can be used in searches (and also saved in filters). A complete guide to QBE is linked from all search pages. Now filter by datecontrols support dates shortcuts.

Search and saveable filters

All filters can be saved, reused, refined. You can also define a default filter and order to be applied on accessing the search page. Notice also that all lists are paged, page size can be defined, applied immediately.

Delete preview

Deleting a task or a resource can have far reaching consequences; it is essential before proceeding to have a detailed picture of what we are eventually removing. Twproject provides an accurate and interactive feedback.

Worklog <-> agenda

You can move between worklog weekly view and the corresponding agenda week and meetings with one click. Hence you can evaluate resource availability.

Acting by e-mail

Not only agenda events can be added from Outlook, but also documents can be added to tasks by sending an e-mail, and resources created by sending a VCard. See the “manage by mail” video.

Additional fields on tasks, resources, assignments, issues, costs

By just giving labels to them, you enable additional fields on tasks, resources, assignments, issues, costs which can be used in search and filters.

Custom forms and prints

Twproject supports the creation of complete custom forms, which are automatically linked to projects and tasks, according to type. Example forms are provided. Additional prints, and actually any kind of wizard and page can be added quite easily.

Counters

Which number should I give to the next document? An easy protocol numbering system is included. You don’t need to keep counters in Microsoft Excel or in mind :-D.

Remember my choices

Whenever it makes sense, the interface automatically records the filtering options you chose. See a few examples.

Custom homes

Every user can customize the layout and content of her/his home page, with a simple drag and drop interface with an immediate preview of what will be obtained. With the help of your technical staff, you can easily build custom parts and integrate them in the homes. With the built in news management system, “company news” can be published in all home pages; the news archive constitutes a sort of “company history”.

History in short

For all objects (tasks, resources, issues, assignments, appointments …) you always see when they were created, by whom, who last modified them, in which area they belong; also from lists.

Compute in fields

You can use arithmetic expressions in numeric fields: the result of the computation will be saved. You don’t need to bring out the calculator (actually, there is one built in Twproject).

Shamelessly cheap

Well, it simply is the cheapest complete work management application ever.

Access projects anywhere

Access all your Twproject projects, issues, worklogs, events. Add and close issues, record worklogs, add events, read contacts. Read documents. And a nice last touch, access Twproject ‘s file storages acting as a gateway to your intranet documents.You won’t need to install anything on your mobile, It is simply HTML5 so it runs on all devices.
twproject mobile

It integration

Twproject runs on any server (is built in Java), on any application server, on your database, on all main browsers and in your language (all utf-8 encodings are supported). Moreover, its sources are available. It is the easiest application to integrate with your IT infrastructure. Being on your database in a normal and simple relational form, you are always in control of your data.
it-integration

Get your projects done

How do you facilitate getting your projects done? Twproject answer is capturing work done in real time. With Twproject you will be always able to access up-to-date projects data: tracking progress, forthcoming deadlines, worklogs and costs will be much easier. And you can do this while changing projects structures, creating new tasks, moving one task from one project to another.
tour-get-things-done
This makes it possible to adapt and change projects as does the real state of the matter you are working with. Twproject has a built-in agile backbone that makes it useful in the most diverse situations.

More projects done by:

  • quickly create and change projects with the powerful tree and Gantt editor
  • insert and manage quickly tens of issues with several dynamic editors
  • real time monitoring and projections of work state, past and future
  • active time-sheet definitions, and hence cost control

And more!

Moreover projects support cut/paste, cloning, creating templates, have milestones, dependencies, have integrated issue tracking, a diary, boards, detailed log of scope creep, have deliverables, have customizable project forms for evaluating complexity/risk/value …

Workflows

With Twproject you get the advantages of both project management and workflows in an integrated solution. Twproject has complete coverage of business process patterns giving you flexibility and standardization of processes and easier change support.

tour-business-process

Agile / Scrum / Kanban

Designed to adapt to your organization’s processes, Twproject supports different flavours of Agile methodologies: XP, Scrum, Kanban.
Twproject is so flexible that it lets you map projects, tasks, issues to people and customers, in many different ways, but so that all data from the different projects and methodologies ends up in the same place.
Twproject includes tools such as Kanban, burn down graph, tasks as sprints, panic board, delegation by contract.

tour-kanban

Twproject tracks your issues

In Twproject you define and organize your team’s issues, prioritize, order, and take action on what’s important, staying up to date with what’s going on around you.
Twproject makes all of this easy, so your team can spend less time managing the work and more time making your business grow.

tour-issues

Documents at one-click distance

In Twproject your documents always are at one-click distance from the project. Just drag your documents on the browser to have them available on your project. Versioning, file locking, authoring and classification are all supported.Do you want to spare the hassle of upload/download of files already secured and classified on your server file system? Easy: you can directly link projects to a set of folders and files on your servers.
tour-documents

Keep your teams connected

Twproject dynamically creates teams according to the project you are working on. You can communicate, prioritize, check their work load, share agendas, files.
Join the team discussion available on every project, keep your teams connected.
tour-agenda-week

Your time is valuable: log it with Twproject

However you work, there is a solution in Twproject time tracking system: time can be logged in several different ways because Twproject will adapt to your habits.
tour-timesheet

For instance, if you are a graphic designer, a developer or a customer support specialist, issue/ticket based worklog is your way of work logging. If you are an architect who is often doing field work, you may need a weekly plan; also a detailed view is available. If you are a project manager or an accountant, you may need timer based recording.

Work log can be validated, approved, and monitored in real time.
Generated costs can be verified any moment.

 

Project Management

With Twproject you will be always able to access up-to-date projects data: tracking progress, forthcoming deadlines, worklogs and costs will be much easier. Twproject is a project management solution that minimizes the effort of administrative tasks and lets you focus on what’s really important for your company.
Twproject makes your data easier to collect and tracking task progress will become easier too.
tour-open-tasks

 You have to manage hundreds of projects and tasks?

Dashboards adapt to the currently active projects. Powerful search forms help to find and manage large volumes of projects. All your filters can be saved (with one click), refined and reused. Results can be printed, exported in Excel format, shared. You can choose the project events you want to subscribe to, and also “push” subscriptions to assignees.

With Twproject you’ll get

  • project and task based team and work-group definition (getting a shared agenda, issue management, team load, …)
  • automatic time sheet definition, and hence cost control
  • personal dashboards
  • full web based Gantt editor

And more!

Moreover projects support milestones, dependencies, have integrated issue tracking, a diary, boards, detailed log of scope creep, have deliverables, have customizable project forms for evaluating complexity/risk/value …