Kanban: An Agile Software Methodology for Software Development


Kanban in Japanese means ‘signboard’ or ‘visual board’. This method was first developed by a Toyota engineer as a homegrown process that provides scheduling system, inventory management and lean-manufacturing process that allowed the company for efficient car production and tasks prioritization.


Moreover, the system has proven to be an effective aid to promote improvement and to support continuous operations in a production environment. In addition, obstacles that cause tasks to get delayed are easily identified. One of the major goals of Kanban is to decrease the unnecessary stacking of resources at any part of the production cycle. This is achieved by limiting the number of available parts. This prevents the excess of items and addresses discrepancies in the production line.


With the passage of time, The Kanban System is further evolved and integrated as an agile software methodology that is used as a process-management, and improvement method.



Kanban can be customized depending on the team’s requirements. However, there are general steps in the methodology that are an integral part to have an effective Kanban system. Listed below are the steps on how to implement Kanban:


  1. In software development, the team or organization can use a Kanban Board the have more insight in the workflow, engage the team members and manage the tasks.


  1. A Kanban board illustrates the work process from left to right. Each swimlane or column represents a major stage within the work process. The team can create the column based on their requirements.



  1. An important feature is Kanban is its Work in Progress limit. This means that each swimlane should only contain a limited amount of work tasks thus allowing the team members to focus and identify the problem areas that cause delay. Limit the work in progress and never exceed the limit. Proper allocation of resources and team members aids to have a realistic Work in Progress limit.


  1. Scheduling of work. The Kanban system relies on Just-in-time production concept. The main idea of Just in Time is to do the tasks at the right time. This means that tasks are not expected to be done earlier nor are they supposed to be done later. In software development, this means that the team should only start on tasks when they have the resources to start new projects. This makes sense since there is no point in doing tasks if the Work in Progress is already full and you do not have the time to get new tasks done.




Disadvantages of Kanban System

As mentioned above, there are numerous benefit that comes with adapting the Kanban methodology. However, it is not without fault and we have listed some of its disadvantages below:


Inconsistent Production Situation

Orders or tasks that are scaled based on season or time of the year can have discrepancies during the Kanban replenishment process. A more streamlined and future proof approach is required for effective Kanban system.


Law of Demand and Supply

Products and services all follow the law of demand and supply. This affects the stability of repetitive production cycles since it causes fluctuations of tasks and outputs that depends on customer demands. Kanban might be troublesome to implement in such scenarios.



Although Kaban is not a perfect methodology, its pros certainly outweigh its cons. Without a doubt, Kanban system is an effective agile software methodology that improves software development teams through effective prioritization of swimlanes, complete more tasks by limiting work in progress and result in optimized work outputs.


Toyota is a living proof that the Kanban method really works and, hopefully, this will be a lesson that Tesla’s slow automaking process can learn from. It is undoubtedly an effective methodology that is used not just in the automotive industry but also in software development.


Did you learn something new and plans on using the Kanban system? If so, please like and share this article. How do you implement the Kanban System? Please leave a comment below!


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