Mixing requirements techniques and wrapping them with Kanban.

Written by Blaise Rey-Mermet on . Posted in Agile Requirements Management, Lean & Agile Product Development

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With motivated colleagues, we are helping other development teams in one large IT organization to improve business analysis and project management. As we meet the diverse teams (from business analysis up to the implementation and production teams) we find various methods of development such as the Unified Process or the V-Model. These proceses have been defined as standard by the management and partly established. Despite that most team are struggling under a long list of high priority requirements and changes, some benefits of the deployed process are visible. It is therefore not an option to replace the established processes with a new agile process.

Instead of replacing your development processe, improve it with Kanban.

This matches the situations described by David Anderson [1]. By establishing a Pull System to limit the work-in-progress and balance the demand against the capacity of the team. The first effect will be to visualize inefficiencies; we can then improve the processes accordingly.

There is logically no predefined way to tailor the existing process with Kanban, since it will depend on where your teams needs an improvement, but in general it makes it easier to

  1. keep the process in place for the overall control of the project, and manage the work load with a pull system,
  2. then use a simpler process for the daily work, Scrum if you like, and also control its flow with Kanban.

At the project / product level, keep the established process as appropriated, to control the flow and add Kanban as pull system.

At the team level use Kanban to drive the work.

You will need to adapt the requirements at all levels (user requirements, product requirements). A possible solution is to apply User Stories and Tasks at the team level and group them into large Use Cases at the project level to understand overall product. Read more on blending Kanban and other processes: Mike Cottmeyer [2]

Key points:

  • You may not need to throw away the established processes – improve them with Kanban
  • Instead of replacing Use Cases with User Stories – apply them at different levels
  • Kanban enables improvements with minimal resistance.
  • Big-bang changes do not work – Kanban enables continuous improvements.

Feel free to comment or discuss your experience about tailoring Kanban and other development processes.

[1] David Anderson – Kanban, Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business http://agilemanagement.net/index.php/site/kanbanbook/
[2] Mike Cottmeyer – Blending Scrum and Kanban to Create an End-to-End Agile Enterprise, http://www.leadingagile.com/2011/01/blending-scrum-and-kanban-to-create-an-end-to-end-agile-enterprise/

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