Kanban boards can improve the processes of any department in a business
What Departments Can Use Kanban Boards
A Kanban board can help to optimize workflow at every level of a business. It is not just ideal for one department or another. In fact, many departments within a single business can benefit from a Kanban board.
How Kanban Boards Work
To understand how Kanban methods can work separately and together in disparate departments, it helps to understand a little about how Kanban works in general. A Kanban board is a workflow visualization tool. With it, businesses of all sizes, from freelancer to enterprise, can improve monitor, and improve that workflow. There are a few different types of boards.
Physical boards – These are the traditional boards that most people who know of the Kanban method have some familiarity with. The board uses a series of columns, rows, and Kanban cards to indicate tasks and progress.
For example, a very simple board may have three column headings.
- To Do (or Ready)
- Doing (or In Progress)
- Done (or Completed)
As a department tackles one task, they can move it across the board until it is completed. This offers everybody a helpful visual of progress. Of course, that is a very simplistic view of the board. They can handle simple tasks, but Kanban also works for highly complicated workflows.
Kanban project management software – Sometimes a physical board just is not enough, or it takes up too much space. There is also Kanban software that mimics the board but also adds a tremendous amount of features. For highly complex Kanban workflow, a software method can work better. It is also good for merging workflows, and viewing the progress from multiple departments.
In addition, a software solution can offer
- and integration with other productivity tools.
Since Kanban represents a collaborative method for project management, it is perfect for teams, and even teams within teams. That is why it can work for just about any department in a business, as well as for the business overall.
Kanban for Any Development Department
Businesses with a product development department benefit from the collaborative nature of a Kanban board. It allows a project to go through far more quickly and efficiently. Whether it is a software, project, or web development team, a Kanban board, or Kanban project management software, can help facilitate the process.
The Kanban method, and associated Kanban tools, can help to visualize a project from beginning to end, and beyond. Even though the method can apply to pretty much anything, it is, at its heart, a project management system. So when it comes to project development, it can really make a big difference.
After all, Kanban itself started as a means to facilitate the manufacturing process of Toyota parts. It was used for everything from development, to manufacturing, to supply chain logistics. Businesses can take use this same system in their development departments to schedule production.
Kanban for Sales
As a visualization and tracking tool, a Kanban board can help sales keep track of progress. It is beneficial for tracking every aspect of a sale, from the initial lead, all the way through the finalization of the deal. Beyond that, it can help keep track of post-sale activity as well, such as issues or feedback.
With all that information in a visual workflow, it then becomes easier to fine-tune the process to streamline future sales. It will help the business work on its sales methods, but also help the entire sales team to see what is working and what is not.
Using a Kanban software solution gives the additional benefit of automation. For example, consider if leads in the first column never follow-up for more information after a certain amount time. Some automation triggers can send out an email to the lead that might help to move them to the next column.
The visual Kanban workflow will also help those on the sales team to know which leads have already gone through what stage of the process. Those leads will sit in the correct column. The information for those leads will exist on their card. It is possible to color code them to differentiate them even further.
There is a lot a Kanban board can do for a marketing department, as well as for marketing in general. Marketing strategies can encompass a number of methods. Sometimes it can become hard to keep track of it all.
A marketing department that consists of several teams can often butt heads if everybody is not on the same page about what is going on. For example, the same marketing departing may have to juggle
- social media marketing,
- SEO and content marketing,
- email marketing,
- video marketing,
- print ads,
- and anything else that is in the marketing funnel.
Those are just a few, but the important thing is that they all work in concert. A Kanban board can help to organize all those disparate marketing efforts into something a little more cohesive. This helps everybody concerned to stay on track. Even a simple board can help by showing
- what is in the backlog,
- what is currently running,
- and what is coming up.
A more complex board may have more metrics that can be added to the overall workflow. This can let the department know
- what is working,
- what is not,
- what is falling behind,
- and what needs tweaking.
Having a visualization of the process can help managers make quick decisions on where to place their focus.
Kanban for Human Resources and Onboarding
HR and other internal processes benefit from a Kanban board’s method of organizing activity. A good example is with the hiring process. When a business puts out a call for applicants, a lot of things start to happen.
The HR department will need to gather all the incoming applications and resumes. They will then need to call people back, set up interviews, and go through various other steps that come with the hiring process.
It can become overwhelming trying to keep track of all those people and what step they are at in the process. A Kanban board can help streamline the process, and make sure HR knows where each applicant stands in the process.
In cases where there are more applicants than a single board can handle, Kanban project management software can help even more. Not only can the board and Kanban cards keep track of the overall workflow, they can also keep track of the individual applicants.
Of course, there are more internal processes that HR has to deal with, such as onboarding. But since they are processes, with workflows, then a Kanban board can help with those as well.
For example, a visual aid can make tracking a new acquisition through the training process much easier and efficient. Kanban works especially well with all of those quick, short-term projects that HR must go through throughout the year.
Kanban for Purchasing
Any business that relies on incoming shipments can use a Kanban board and Kanban cards to keep visual track of what is coming in, and when. The board can contain cards that let everyone in the department know the status of individual shipments.
The board offers a quick overview, which mitigates the need to constantly check on shipment progress. This in turn increases productivity and makes sure everybody in the department knows when to expect delivery. For shipments already on premises, the board can also point out what part of the unloading and distribution process they are at as well.
Kanban for Customer Support and Services
Kanban methods can help customer support and other services teams to quickly deal with customer requests. Dealing with customers requires rapid response times and high quality assistance. At any given time, customers may want to send in queries, complaints, or other feedback.
Using Kanban, a request from phone or email can be quickly turned into a card. That card can then start at the beginning of the board where the team can see it and immediately move it along to the next stage. This keeps things moving along and everybody on board with what is going on and currently in the works.
Kanban for IT and Help Desk
Support tickets can flood and overwhelm a help desk. A board can keep those tickets organized, prioritized, and moving along. Integration with Kanban software can turn a received support ticket into a card that’s color coded by type of problem. That problem can then be picked up by the appropriate member of the team and worked on.
This process can also help the help desk to see larger issues, such as when several people have the same problem around the same time frame. In conjunction with monitoring, the Kanban system can verify a suspected problem.
Kanban for Operations and Combining Departmental Workflow
The departments of a business represent individual parts of a whole that must all work together towards a common goal. Operations is typically the lynchpin that holds each of the other departments together and accountable.
Kanban boards can allow each department to see the overall workflow of the business. This can help them, and operations, to make sure they are on track with everybody else.
Keep in mind that Kanban shines when connecting the flow of information between different departments. They can be of great use in individual departments. They can also link all departments in much the same way they link everybody tied to a particular project.
Discovering New Ways Departments can Use Kanban
There is no one way for a department to use a Kanban board. Kanban is infinitely customizable. With Kanban software, that customization gives a lot of fine control over the workflow process.
Businesses can take advantage of Kanban, and grow the process along with the needs of the business. In return, using the Kanban method will show the business and its departments which direction is the right one. It is a highly scalable solution that can work for every department or level of a business.