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How ProdPad Fits With Kanban

This is part of our “How ProdPad Fits” pages. See our other “How ProdPad Fits” pages.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is an Agile method focused on developing a product or service with the minimum amount of fuss, overhead and delay. Its main focus is on creating an efficient workflow, and highlighting progress by using visual queues.

The word “Kanban” itself is the Japanese word for “visual signal.” As such, the benefit lies in being able to communicate to others what the work in progress looks like and where it’s at.

The method involves a system of cards, which represent tasks, all laid out on a board. This is called a Kanban board. 

How does Kanban work?

The Kanban board outlines the team’s specific workflows, visualized by a set of columns, where cards will be laid out as they flow through the process. 

Each column represents the process stage that the team uses to define what’s happening to the task. For example, if they have started work on a particular item, the workflow column might be called “In Progress”. At the most basic level, the columns could be “to do”, “doing” and “done”. 

The cards themselves represent a task. These tasks have clear specifications for developers to follow. Either in the form of epics or user stories, these specs are easy to follow and contain clear information about what is meant to be done in order to facilitate handoffs between team members.

Columns have a “Work in Progress” limit. WIP limits are the maximum number of cards that can be in one column at any given time. Once the column is maxed out with the total number of cards, the team needs to work on those cards and move them forward before new cards can move into that stage of the workflow. WIP limits are there to expose possible issues with the workflow and maximize the team’s efficiency in delivery. As such, teams are able to know when there’s too much work coming through and need to balance out.

Kanban boards usually have multiple cards waiting in a backlog. These cards may range from reported bugs to items already validated and spec’d out by the development team. When an item is picked up and moved on to begin progress, this is called the commitment point.

As cards then move through the several columns on the Kanban board, respecting the WIP set and following the spec’s outlined in the cards, they get to the final workflow – the delivery point. The team’s goal is to get the multiple cards coming through into the backlog to the final delivery point as fast as possible. Kanban teams are continuously improving to minimize the time between commitment to delivery, at all times having the maximum efficiency.

Kanban Board Diagram

How ProdPad Fits

Kanban focuses on one part of the product development process – the delivery and execution of items. ProdPad provides a holistic view of the entire process, from ideation all the way to post-implementation stages such as your product launch and PR/marketing activities and allows the product manager to manage discovery and prioritize what goes into that process.

Lean roadmap

By grouping together ideas under problems to solve, the product manager is able to prioritize which ideas need to go through discovery first and ensure the tasks pushed into the kanban process are the right ones needed to solve customer problems. The lean roadmap also encourages iteration and continuous improvement, ensuring that the development process doesn’t result in a “Feature Factory”. The development team can see the roadmap and have greater visibility into “the big picture” so they understand how their work fits into the wider strategy.

Idea Backlog

The product manager gathers all the potential ideas for product improvement into the Idea backlog, which can be used through the discovery process to identify the right solutions to user problems. By using filters and impact/effort scoring, the product manager can identify which ideas are the most important and link them to the relevant problems on the roadmap. This in turn helps with prioritization.

Workflows and integrations

ProdPad’s workflow allows ideas to progress through the process of discovery -> specification -> development -> measuring success. This helps the product owner understand which ideas require discovery and specification so that they are working on the right ideas for the upcoming sprint planning session. Within each workflow stage, the product owner can also prioritize the ideas (top to bottom) ensuring that everyone understands what is most important when there is capacity in the team to take on the next task.

Once the idea is pushed to development’s tool of choice using the relevant integration, ProdPad’s workflow stage is kept up to date based on a mapping to development, meaning that business stakeholders can see a simplified version of the development process and understand how progress is being made by reviewing the roadmap or checking out the idea itself.

Customer feedback

The primary goal of all product teams is to solve problems for their customers! ProdPad’s customer feedback module allows the customer’s voice to be heard, and helps the product team understand which problems are the most important to solve, and how those problems affect the customer. By hearing the customer’s own words, the product team is more likely to solve the problem in a way that is acceptable to the customer.

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