Project Management

Kanban Method: Improving Efficiency and Minimizing Waste in Academic Research Projects

Posted by
Carl Peters
January 17, 2023

The Kanban method, which is closely linked to Lean thinking, is a popular tool in the field of software development. However, there have been few empirical studies investigating the dynamics and impact of Kanban on projects. In an effort to improve understanding of how Kanban impacts project work, a study by Ikonen et al. (2011) was conducted in an experimental software R&D setting. The impact of Kanban was evaluated from several theoretically derived perspectives.

The study found that Kanban, with its inherent simplicity, motivated the workers and controlled the project activities. The results of the study also highlighted new findings regarding the application of Kanban in project management. Specifically, the key implications of the findings suggest that Kanban can be used to reach an optimal flowing state in the development process and minimize waste, such as unnecessary waiting and non-value-adding extra work.

In addition to its application in software development projects, the Kanban method can also be a useful tool for academic researchers working within a project management framework. The Kanban method can be applied to the "Squares" of the Pathfinder framework, which are the heartbeats of the project and typically last 2-4 weeks. During each Square, the Pathfinder must go through three events: Start, Run, and Finish. Kanban can be used to visualize the flow of tasks and work items during each event, allowing the Pathfinder to prioritize and manage the work more efficiently.

Kanban boards can be used to visualize the work items in the "Project Backlog," which is a list of all the work required to complete the project. The backlog can be subdivided into smaller pieces of work and prioritized by the Pathfinder, in consultation with the academic supervisor or "Messenger." The Kanban board can be used to track the progress of each work item, from planning to completion.

In the "Run" event, the Kanban board can be used to track the actual project work and ensure that tasks are being completed in a timely manner. The board can be used to identify any bottlenecks or delays in the work flow and take appropriate action to address them.

In the "Finish" event, the Kanban board can be used to track the completion of the tasks and ensure that all deliverables are completed on time.

Overall, the Kanban method can be a valuable tool for academic research projects within the Pathfinder framework. It allows for visualizing the flow of work and managing tasks more efficiently, leading to a more successful project outcome.