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A visual depiction of the flow of project deliverables - or mini-deliverables - through the project. Often used with the processing of a batch of items through the same steps.
When to use
The Kanban Schedule is ideal for a project that has a batch of items which must be processed through similar project management steps, such as the development of software modules or the qualification of many vendors/suppliers. It is also used as a primary scheduling tool for Agile/Scrum projects.
Kanban schedules are displayed with two formats. The principle used for managing the schedule is identical, but the display is different. The Flow Board display is best used with small projects and with Agile/Scrum projects. The Matrix display is best used on large projects where a "batch" of items must be processed through the same project steps.
- Decompose major deliverables into tasks.
- Each task must be tracked separately so it is documented on a unique task item.
- Place all items in the first column, representing the scope of the project plan.
- When a tasks is started, it is moved to the "Work In Process" column.
- When the task is finished, it is moved to the "Done" column.
- If a task becomes delayed or encounters a problem, it is moved to the "At Risk" column and receives special attention from the project manager and appropriate Core Team members.
- Create the project schedule based upon project requirements and constraints using Milestone Charts, Gantt Charts, or Network Diagrams.
- Identify tasks that are a batch – a similar set of activities applied to multiple items.
- List the items in the first column of the matrix and the activities as column headings.
- Plan an end date for each item and activity and place it in the appropriate cell of the matrix.
- Show the batch as a single summary task on the Gantt Chart or Network Diagram.
- As the work is completed, change the background color of the cell to indicate that it is done.
Hints & tips
The approach is not appropriate on all projects, but where it is, it will save time in both planning and tracking progress and often provide a better sense of true schedule progress than any other project scheduling tool.
It is easy to calculate a "percent complete" for the project or batch by just considering the percent of tasks in the done column or of cells in the matrix that are completed. Senior management often asks for a percent complete for the project and it is very difficult to provide that from a Gantt chart or Milestone chart.
During project execution, this technique will place a spotlight on tasks or activities that are falling behind, allowing the Core Team to take early corrective action.
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