Feb 282011

Kanban has become the hot topic of discussion amongst the IT community since 2010, due to its accelerated rate of adoption and remarkable impact on organizations — from the few-employee company to the tens-of-thousands-employee company — where it has been adopted despite its young age. This fast pace is both good and bad, Kanban is benefiting organizations when adopted properly, but there is a risk of doing it wrong by rushing an adoption without fully understanding it.

For example, people frequently ask if Kanban is a methodology for software development, or for software maintenance, or for project management, or a systematic approach to cultural change in the organization, or something else. Another frequent question is if Kanban is the next logical step after Scrum and if that means Scrum should be done before doing Kanban. Having a good understanding of what Kanban is and what makes it so appealing is important to using it successfully, so Cutter asked me to be Guest Editor of the March issue of Cutter IT Journal, “The Viral Growth of Kanban in the Enterprise,” where we answer many of these questions.

The issue features an article by the creator of Kanban, David Anderson, with Arne Roock, on aspects of Kanban adoptions. Taking Kanban adoption in Germany as starting and central point, they discuss how Kanban adoption has disseminated throughout the world and how cultural factors influence the rate of adoption. Anderson and Roock also describe the main reasons why Kanban should be used.

Allan Shalloway’s article on Demystifying Kanban gives us a panoramic view on what Kanban is and isn’t by comparing it with what he has been calling first generation agile methodologies, such as Scrum and XP, and discussing how Kanban overcomes their challenges. Allan has identified seven misconceptions on Kanban and discusses four of them at length and three of them in brief, then he concludes the article with a “test” to determine whether or not your organization is actually doing Kanban.

Dan Verweij and Olav Maassen present the success story of Kanban adoption at an insurance company in the Benelux, in Western Europe. They describe how the insurance company went from a pilot project on Kanban to 20 teams doing Kanban in around 18 months as well as the reasons for the adoption, which include business, management, and operational reasons. Verweij and Maassen discuss the difficulties encountered throughout the adoption and the various benefits obtained and conclude their paper with four recommendations to adopting Kanban.

The article on Kanban for help-desks, written by Rolland Cuellar, is around the context of what he calls “managing the unplannable” to describe the challenges encountered at help-desk organizations. He explains why approaches such as waterfall and Scrum are not suitable for such type of activities, and how Kanban makes the cut for both help-desk and network operations organizations. Cuellar gives credit to limiting work-in-progress, a core property of Kanban, as an important differentiator useful to that kind of organizations and addresses other factors such as visualization. The result was a significant improvement on responsiveness and an increase in customer satisfaction.

Last but not least is the article on the use of Kanban on distributed onshore-offshore environments by Siddharta Govindraj and Sreekanth Tadipatri. The paper lists some difficulties on doing outsourcing and how Kanban is better suited than Scrum for it. The authors elaborate on how Kanban was applied and present nuggets of cases to illustrate the benefits obtained. They presents a series of pitfalls and closes with a discussion on cultural challenges encountered.

The Kanban issue of the Cutter IT Journal will be a one-stop source that provides you with valuable information in your decision to adopt Kanban to better your organization.


Masa K. Maeda

Masa K. Maeda is a Senior Consultant with Cutter's Agile Product & Project Management Practice. He has 23 years of experience in the USA, Japan, and Mexico.


  One Response to “Upcoming IT Journal issue: The viral growth of Kanban in the Enterprise”

  1. […] of hope, there is no winter.Daily del.icio.us for April 17th through April 19thApril 19, 2011The Cutter Blog » The viral growth of Kanban in the Enterprise – Allan Shalloway’s article on Demystifying Kanban gives us a panoramic view on what […]

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