There is no doubt that Kanban is great for software projects. With Kanban you can increase throughput by limiting work in progress, delivering value constantly this increasing trust in the team.
But Kanban does not only apply to projects. Some people use also Portfolio Kanban to manage projects.
And there is another potential use for Kanban that I think can be very useful and solve multiple problems if applied properly, i.e. in a services company: Resource Kanban.
Let’s start by outlining the problem:
- In most companies, but especially sevices oriented companies, resourcing is always an issue. Projects usually start when customers want to or when legal decides they should
- Also current projects might end up unexpectedly, ahead of time (yeah right!) or contracts are extended, sometimes longer terms but also little by little
- Predicting when each project ends and others begin in such a way that resources can be allocated then becomes a really tricky proposition. On one hand if you don’t have a resource available to start another project then you might upset a customer and potentially lose little (or lots of) money. On the other hand, if there is a lot of time between one project’s end and another’s start then your developer is idle and you also lose money! Tricky indeed
- So being able to visualize and maximize utilization as much as possible, without burning out developers, is critical
And thus it came to my mind that Kanban can be used to help this process. It is not a solution per se, but it is a method that allows to help schedule resources and understand potential idle and over utilized times.
And so I will explain what in my mind Resource Kanban can do for you. Stay tuned for a step by step explanation.
Disclaimer: a quick search on “Resource Kanban” indicates to me that no one has yet presented this solution to the problem in the way that I envision it. Please let me know if you already did so.