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Japanese Kanban Is a Lean, Mean Developer Dream

Lean/Kanban company LeanKit has launched new features designed to allow large enterprise projects to be managed using multiple levels of drill-down Kanban boards, detailed taskboards, and roll-up Lean metrics. A "complete overhaul" of the LeanKit user interface has also been undertaken.

NOTE: Kanban boards have evolved out of Japanese kanban cards (first used to explain the relationship between manufacturing and distribution) to now symbolize the passage of workflow items as they progress from "to do" or "awaiting", through "work in progress" and onward to "done" or "completed".

LeanKit Kanban is designed to allow programmers and team leaders (and any user in fact) to model their processes as lanes on a whiteboard with cards representing work flowing from step to step. Users on one board will be able to delegate a card to a team on another board, where they can break it down into however many smaller pieces they need — each of which is connected as a "child" to the "parent" card.

For example, an organization might have a portfolio board where each card represents a project. This board would be for the executive team to view the company project roadmap. They can then delegate each project card to a project team board where the project manager and team leads will break it into smaller work items like deliverables, risks, and issues.

Those work items can then be delegated further, to the boards of the actual teams who will do the work. Each specific team's board might contain work delegated to them from several different project boards plus routine non-project work for that group. At each level, users can view snapshot metrics for any card that has been delegated to another board, letting them quickly see how well the work is progressing on that other board. And, while this example describes three levels of hierarchy, there's no system limit to the number of levels that may be drilled down — and cards can just as easily be delegated from one peer team to another.

Finally, users on any board will be able to create one or more taskboards inside each card to keep track of the smaller work items required to complete the main card; for example, making phone calls, scheduling meetings, getting paperwork approved, etc. The kinds of things that need to be tracked, but teams don't want cluttering the main board. Any card that contains a taskboard will show a percent complete indicator on its front to show that there's a taskboard inside and how well those tasks are progressing.

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