AgileZen is a project collaboration tool that supports software development by providing a Web-based Kanban board. Kanban literally means "sign board," and in Lean it is the signaling tool for visualizing and tracking work as it flows through various stages of a process. A Kanban board does this by exposing bottlenecks, queues and waste in a process so that teams can deliver high quality, high value work.
"Since 2004, Rally has helped organizations adopt Agile development practices that bring innovations to market faster," said Rally's Ryan Martens. "Last year, we supported Kanban and Scrum projects working side-by-side with the launch of our Kanban board mashup. Over the same period, AgileZen has fast become a favorite tool for managing Kanban projects. Acquiring AgileZen helps Rally meet the emerging need for Kanban in our core ALM market, plus brings the project collaboration advantages of Agile and Lean practices into all departments of the Agile business."
Scrum and Kanban support project collaboration and continuous improvement. Both methods focus on early value delivery, and both provide transparency into the work in progress. But Kanban can operate with a different planning and delivery cadence than Scrum and also emphasizes different metrics.
Kanban supports the simple Lean concept that Work In Progress (WIP) should be limited in each stage of the value stream. These limits establish a "pull" workflow system that promotes a continuous and predictable flow of value delivery. Kanban can be used in a wide variety of business processes, for example:
- An IT operations team that works on the most pressing issues each day
- An Agile development team that delivers individual features directly into production
- Marketing and legal teams that must mix work on longer campaigns with daily fire fighting
"Lean thinking originated with Taiichi Ohno, known as the father of the Toyota Production System, who believed that anything that consumed resources, but didn't create value for the customer, was waste," said Niki Kohari, co-creator of AgileZen. "AgileZen enables teams to create a pull system that matches their unique workflow, provides an easy way to see the status of a project at a glance, and helps organizations understand how their process can be improved to eliminate waste and create value."