Tech

5 Steps To Building A Successful Agile Team: Kanban Methodology

Kanban Methodology is becoming very popular in IT development teams, and with good reason. The basic idea is that you work on things in priority order (determined by the business needs, of course), not piling too much work onto your plate. If you get stuck with prioritization or execution, it is ok to stop working on lower priority items and pull them back when ready. Once they are done, pull more low priority items up into active work areas.

This does three things for your team:

1) Avoids overloading people with too many projects at once. Resource constraints are one of the biggest issues in software development, ignoring resource allocation will just result in scope creep and over-runs. When scope creeps come in late in a project there’s often not enough time to make things right, rather than letting scope creep ruin your project, you can plan for it early on.

2) Makes developers feel empowered. The feeling of being in control does wonders for an employee’s morale and will reflect positively in their productivity. It’s not “your way” or the highway when it comes to priority levels, but rather just a means to help prioritize effort without having too much or too little work around at once.

3) Ensures that all projects are completed eventually. Some people find it helpful to have unfinished items pile up until there’s enough time to pick them back up again later. Be careful though, this might result in blocking other important tasks from getting done which will cause more harm than good.

4) Try to predict what you want before you even know it. This is the ‘Google Now’ of project management. If you’ve ever had an idea pop into your head but were too busy to sit down and write it down, this bot will try to capture that idea for later review so no ideas are lost. For example, if you thought “I need a report on quarterly sales figures by next Tuesday” then the bot would take note of that and before you knew it there’d be a handy PDF sitting in your inbox waiting for you to take a look at. It takes some getting used to, but once mastered the possibilities become endless, and your productivity soars.

5) Saves you time and money. If you’re anything like me, there’s a fine line between “I don’t have the funds to pay an intern $18k/year” and “I can’t be expected to do everything myself.” With Slackbot, we’ve gained that extra free hand without having to hire someone full-time.

Kanban Methodology is a different way of visualizing and managing workflows that essentially divides teams into categories, or “lanes.” The goal is to visualize each stage of the development process as a column—from start to finish. In turn, you can quickly identify bottlenecks delaying your workflow by simply glancing at the board, which helps you allocate resources accordingly. And since Slack supports HTML embeds, adding a picture or a video directly into a chat room has never been easier.

It’s no secret that email is one of the biggest productivity killers out there. We all have those contacts we need—and correspond with often—but constant back-and-forth conversations throughout the day only slow us down more as time goes on. On top of that, you can’t even attach a photo or a file, which makes some questions impossible to answer on the spot.

That’s why we’ve set up our engineering team with Slack—a free messaging app for teams that uses persistent chat rooms to help us collaborate every step of the way. By having everyone in one place to discuss feature requests, answer questions about our game engine, and post progress updates internally, we’re able to cut down on back-and-forth emails between members and maximize productivity. And since it offers an app for mobile devices as well as standard desktop clients for Windows and OS X users, no matter which computer you use or where your teammates are located around the world, you can keep up with the messages. The mobile app even offers handy notifications that alert you if someone brings up something you’re interested in or shares an image, link, or file.

You can use slash commands to extend Slack’s functionality by creating your own customized buttons that control specific aspects of apps and programs. For example, my team uses a custom command to automatically post our completed code changes on GitHub every time we push out a new update—streamlining our workflow so programmers can focus more on coding and leave the project management duties to the rest of us.

The basic idea is that you have different columns of cards on the board representing different stages of your workflow: In progress, in review, Finished and Waiting. This allows you to get a high-level view of what’s going on at all times in one glance.

Kanban Methodology is thus required to build a Successful Agile Team. Kanban Cards are a great tool for Agile Planning and Execution. Kanban boards can be used to manage tasks, features, bugs, stories or any other important work items that need to get done.

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