Did you know that Kanban can be used to manage office activities and is considered a lean office tool? Toyota’s famous production system has brought a number of new concepts to the market. One well-known part of the Toyota system was Kanban.

What is Kanban?

In 1950s Japan, Toyota, one of the country’s leading companies, was going through an extremely troubling time. Dealing with scarce resources and technological problems, the Japanese giant was having difficulty. Toyota sought to develop a new production system that would bring more profit with less waste. This effort created what would later be known as the Toyota production system.

Searching for profit through sustainability, Toyota’s philosophy led them to one of the pillars “Just in Time,often confused with Kanban.

Just in time, or JIT, is a technique that produces based on the needs of the market, eliminating the costs of maintaining inventory and producing on demand. While JIT is the process of manufacturing products in the right quantity and at the right time, the Kanban system was a tool created to administer JIT.

One of the basic concepts of this system is to produce in the smallest batch possible, ideally one item at a time. This concept can be applied in service companies to help manage the often chaotic scenario of various activities being performed at the same time. As a result, Kanban is a tool with great potential to increase productivity in transaction and stage-driven activities.

How the method works

In the literal translation of Japanese, the term Kanban means “card.”That’s a great way to describe the Kanban system. The method consists of using cards (sometimes post-it notes if a digital tool isn’t being used) to indicate and visualize production progress or flow of the company. This system was famous for using very few resources, making it practical and easy to understand.

The Kanban system corresponds to a framework in which all the tasks of a particular project or sector of the company are arranged. The highly visual nature of Kanban enables employees to easily understand deadlines and milestones that need to be met.

It’s popular to organize this framework with two main axes: one for tasks and one for stages. On the first axis are all the task cards that need to be performed. The second axis is composed of the different statuses, such as “in progress,” “finished,” “pending,” etc. In this layout, you simply insert the task card or post-it note in the axis corresponding to its status. It’s that easy! It can get more in-depth, streamlined, and fruitful when you start using digital toolsthat integrate this process too.

It might seem simple and compared to today’s technology, even outdated, but Kanban still works very well.

Employees have access to so many new tools, but often the simple visualization of tasks helps best.

Textual information is not always well understood by all and it is often necessary to re-formulate it or even re-explain it entirely. The Kanban system, however, follows the famous saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” As such, it exploits the visual processing capabilities of our brains, which operates much faster than us reading just plain text.

By organizing the flow of activities for a project or company aspect and using a highly visual framework, you will help your employees see progress in a much easier way. This means that communication between those involved with pending tasks will be done in a simpler and more illustrative way.

The best part…

You can manage your meetings, projects, tasks, & more better than ever with Kanban and other tools on the TEAMS platform made by Lux Systems.

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About the Author

This article was produced by Fractal Solutions LLC.