Can Kanban be Scaled? How to Scale Kanban?

August 12, 2015

kanban-or-scrum-is-scrum-for-dev-336x189 Can Kanban be Scaled?  How to Scale Kanban? agile Kanban is designed for flexibility when compared to Scrum for example, which is considered less flexible because it follows a blueprint, a framework for adoption. Often how teams work can ’t be standardized across an organization, consequently Kanban is often a good fit, with processes adopted that are fit for purpose.

Scrumban, a combination of Scrum and Kanban is often adopted when Scrum teams want to become more Agile and yet Kanban is just a step too far, providing too much freedom (a compromise between management needs and programmer wants).  Kanban is considered as an option that requires a high level of discipline, greater than many enterprises are willing to entrust their development teams with.

When is Kanban Scaled.

The very freedom that Kanban provides makes it possible for multiple teams working with different Agile methods and processes to work together.  Kanban encourages independence and ownership of tasks and is therefore, great for the more experienced and yet it is also great for those with experience of Agile but little or no experience of Kanban.  Consequently, Kanban is being used for large scale adoption in cases where an Agile blueprint or framework just doesn’t make sense, or can’t be used due to high diversity of Agile methods amongst the various teams.  In such situations Kanban minimizes disruption because the various teams can continue to work as they worked previously (for the most part) as autonomous crossfunctional groups, working on different things.

Scaled Kanban:  For When a Standardized Agile approach makes no sense.

When growing your team or number of teams it is important to remember to organize the teams in the same way, keep the teams small, retaining the same working policies throughout, whether you have 10 teams or 100 (Kanban is infinitely scaleable).  What is important is to have a similar work culture.  Kanban is all about process improvement, so processes will continually change and be improved upon, so it is important to keep the Kanban Board up-to date.

When Scaling Kanban it is important to have workflow control, a Kanban tool – the digital Kanban board is available as an independent tool or integrated within an Application Lifecycle Management tool / software, – such as our own codeBeamer ALM.  This enables Work-in-Progress (WIP) limits and swimlanes to be set and visualized, making it easy to see where productivity is suffering due to team members being overworked or suffering from distractions (excessive multitasking).  WIP limits enable the simple reallocation of team members to different tasks within the team, or alternatively bring in team members from other groups where there is an over-capacity.

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Eva Johnson

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Eva is an Economist (MSc) and also holds an MBA in Marketing Communications. She has over 10 years of experience in journalism, digital media communication and project management working with several multinational companies and governmental institutions. You will find her blogs posts on a variety of subjects from Agile-Waterfall Hybrid, Scrum to DevOps.

Eva Johnson has written 131 posts for Intland Software.

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