What is Kanban?

What is Kanban?

Apeksha Patel
1st Mar, 2019

Kanban Origins

Kanban is a popular Agile framework used by software development and support teams. Kanban originated almost three forth of a century, back in time. During the late 1940s, Toyota wanted to optimize its engineering processes. The inventory management system that supermarkets use, was very efficient because they efficiently decrease the amount of excess stock from the consumer’s consumption patterns. This approach helps supermarkets to keep stock of any given product that the customers need and avoid excessive stock.

The goal of Toyota is to make their inventory available to match their consumption of the same in manufacturing. This leads to the evolution of the JIT (Just-In-Time) manufacturing process.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a method for defining, managing, and improving services that deliver knowledge work, and the design of both physical and software products. The Kanban Method is based on making visible what is otherwise intangible knowledge work, to ensure that the service works on the right amount of work—work that is requested and needed by the customer and that the service has the capability to deliver. Kanban focuses on the delivery of services by an organization—one or more people collaborating to produce working products.

As per the supermarket concept, limiting the stock and making it available at the same time is exactly the concept behind limiting the amount of work in progress.

Kanban Values

The Kanban method is led by multiple values. Unlike other frameworks, Kanban has a high list value that talks not just about teams but also about Customer focus, Leadership, understanding, and Agreement as well.

Kanban Workflow

Kanban is used to define, manage, and improve systems that deliver services of value to customers. As Kanban is applied to knowledge work, where the deliveries consist of information in various forms rather than physical items, the processes can be defined as a series of knowledge-discovery steps and their associated policies, made visible in a Kanban board. The board depicts a flow system in which work items flow through various stages of a process, ordered from left to right.

The visual signals derive from the combination of the cards, the displayed Work in Progress Limits (in the rectangles at the head of the columns), and the column that represents the activity. In addition, Kanban systems must have identified commitment and delivery points.

The commitment is an explicit or tacit agreement between the customer and service that:

  1. the customer wants an item and will take delivery of it, and

  2. the service will produce it and deliver it to the customer.

Before the commitment point, there may be a set of outstanding requests (or a pool of ideas), which may or may not be selected, and a process whose purpose is selecting items from these options. Kanban applied to processes prior to the commitment point is sometimes referred to as Discovery Kanban. The delivery point is where items are considered complete. The time that an item is in process between the commitment and delivery points is referred to as the item’s Lead Time (or System Lead Time). Customer Lead Time may be different—it is the time a customer waits for the item (typically from request to receipt). The fact that a distinction is made between the creation, or arrival, of a request and the commitment to fulfill the request, is important; it is referred to as deferred commitment.

The collection of items within the system under consideration at any point in time, as well as the count of the number of these items, is known as the Work in Progress or WIP. The rate at which items are delivered is known as the Delivery Rate. This is calculated from the reciprocal of the time between the latest delivery and the previous one or, for an average Delivery Rate over a given period, by dividing the number of deliveries by the length of the time period.

With 11+ years of experience in the field, Leanpitch has successfully upskilled 90,000+ people across 12+ countries. Explore our website, Our trainers are internationally acclaimed for their insightful and experiential training.

We upskill and boost your career by providing a wide range of courses such as CSPO, CSM, ICP-ACC, Kanban, etc. visit our website to learn more about all the courses we offer.

Don't Miss Out

Get latest updates about new and exciting opportunities delivered to your inbox

Publish Your Blog

We are inviting authors to write blogs. If you are interested in writing and sharing your knowledge as blogs, get in touch with us.
Submit your blogs to