Understanding the Benefits of Kanban Methods in a Lean Small Business

For small businesses, staying lean and agile is the only way to remain competitive. Leaner small businesses can adapt to market changes better. This gives them the edge when competing against larger but often times bloated corporations with more financial resources

There are many ways for small businesses to remain effective while staying incredibly lean. The Kanban method, a way to visualize tasks and organize projects into manageable chunks, is a great approach to take. In this article, we are going to dig deeper and discuss why Kanban is a great method that brings a lot of benefits. 

What Is Kanban Method? 

As mentioned before, the Kanban method is an approach for visualizing tasks and tracking their respective progress. At the heart of this method, there is the Kanban board. It divides progress of tasks into three categories: Requested, In Progress, and Done. In some cases, the three categories are expanded to allow additional stages such as Testing and Story. 

The method is perfect for small businesses and lean teams trying to be more effective. Since Kanban isn’t relying on specific roles or strict timeframes for managing tasks – the way Scrum does in app development – it can handle the challenges faced by small businesses with greater flexibility. 

Kanban In Different Parts Of The Workflow 

That flexibility can be seen in the way Kanban is suitable for different parts of the small business. For starters, you can use an online Kanban board to organize tasks in the sales department. From leads to actual sales, every part of these tasks can be organized and monitored meticulously. 

Kanban also works in production. In fact, many manufacturing companies turn to Kanban to help optimize their production lines. Through the use of Kanban, an optimum production level can be set that is based on factors like production cost and market demand. 

The same can be said for internal projects. The Kanban board online tools available today allow team members to report progress and provide details about the tasks they handle in real-time. The rest of the team can keep track of each other’s progress too, which means the entire project is further optimized. 

It’s Simple 

The true strength of the Kanban method lies in its simplicity. You can implement Kanban using an actual board and some Post-It notes. That said, digital Kanban boards are far more effective. There is no need to worry about the Post-It notes falling from the board or not being able to monitor everything in detail. 

While the method itself is simple, online Kanban boards give you incredible control over your tasks. You can even view a complete history of completed tasks and gain a lot of insight from the detail available. When you need to plan for future tasks, for instance, historical data is valuable and boosts your accuracy. 

Kanban’s Flexibility 

Another reason why Kanban is so popular is its flexibility. We have discussed how Kanban can be used in different departments and for different purposes. The Kanban method actually takes flexibility to the next level by allowing for customizations. 

Let’s say you use Kanban to optimize your sales team. You don’t have to stick with the Requested-In Progress-Done format to track tasks. In sales, you can go ahead and adjust the board to feature Lead-Qualified Lead-Proposal- Negotiation-Won or Lost. All you have to do next is add generated leads to the Lead part of the board to start tracking. 

The lack of specific roles is another huge plus in terms of Kanban’s flexibility. Every team member can see the big picture, which means everyone can contribute to the team more effectively without having to rely on a product owner or a project manager as the only source of information. 

The Big Picture 

Speaking of seeing the big picture, Kanban allows you to take a step back and get a clear overview of how the business is doing at any time. It is not uncommon for small businesses or lean teams to feel overwhelmed when there are so many tasks to be done. The visual aspect of your Kanban board lets you avoid that overwhelming feeling. 

Kanban also allows you to monitor the workload your business teams are handling. You can see – in great detail – which functions of the business are being strained the most. The next time you have the resources to recruit new employees, you already know exactly which teams need to be strengthened. 

One last advantage of being able to take a step back is better planning. With a clear overview of tasks - and the business as a whole - you can plan better and anticipate potential problems much earlier. Fewer unanticipated problems mean fewer risks to the business’s long-term growth and success. In today’s market, these advantages are key factors that will determine whether your small business is competitive enough to go up against the bigger corporations.

I hope you enjoyed this article about how to successfully utilize Kanban methods in lean startups and frugal businesses.

Interested in more articles about business management?

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