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Using Kanban to assist Early Life Support

People sitting next to the wooden table marking documents and sticky notes.

Kanban is a recognised process for managing Agile Projects, but have you thought of using the technique for managing Service during an Early Life Support (ELS) period following post go-live for a traditional Waterfall project? How can issues that undoubtedly occur immediately after implementation, be managed, and progressed, efficiently? Is there real visibility in how incidents are managed? Is your Service Management system geared up to manage a large volume high profile post go-live issues.

Typically, issues are logged in a Service Management tool and ‘pushed’ to available resources to resolve, however, one of the major obstacles in managing issues this way is visibility of pipeline and resource utilisation on live issues. This can lead to resources being underutilised, and delays in tasks being allocated, or over utilised, and tasks allocated to resources with no extra capacity. Either way this can delay resolution and cause a backlog to build up.

One method of maximising the utilisation of available time is to enable resources to ’pull’ tasks from a prioritised pipeline, when they believe they have capacity to progress the issue.

Utilising a Kanban board enables this ‘pull’ doctrine to thrive and maximises the utilisation of available resources.

The name ‘Kanban’ originates from Japanese and translates roughly as “signboard” or “billboard”. It was formulated by David J. Anderson as an approach to incremental, evolutionary process and systems change for organizations. It uses a work-in-progress limited pull system as the core mechanism.

Getting started with Kanban

1. Appoint a Kanban Master.

In essence an Early Life Support Manager. An experienced manager with a history in LEAN activities and especially using Kanban boards. They will be responsible for prioritising and managing the Kanban board, creating MI and chairing regular Scrum-like Kanban progress reviews to remove blockages.

2. Create a Kanban Board.

There are many cloud-based applications that are now available for managing Kanban boards, which are essential for managing ELS provision across multiple geographical locations. However, if the ELS provision is primarily situated in a single location, it serves equally well to commandeer an office wall, or stationary cupboard, and create a Kanban board using Post-Its.

3. Create Kanban Issues.

Extract tickets from your Service Management system and use them to create issues on your Kanban board. As issues are worked on, progress updates need to be reflected in the Service Management system, to provide the person who logged the issue with regular information. When an issue reaches the resolved stage on the Kanban, the ticket can be closed in the Service Management system.

Managing issues on a Kanban board will allow the Early Life Support manager to instil a culture of empowerment within the team.  Each team member manages their own workload, ‘pulling’ the next ticket from the pipeline and moving it through the board. This helps to maximise the team workload and ensure that tickets are dealt with in the most efficient way possible.

If you would like to find out how iCore can help you with Kanban then please contact us on 0207 868 2405 or email info@icore-ltd.com