Sunday, August 22, 2010

Supporting Delivery with a three tier Kanban

After a full day session creating a Kanban with my client we ended up with not one, not two, but a 3 tier Kanban. (I warned my clients this was a really complex option, but they are willing to give it a go and throw out a tier if it warranted)

The three tiers consisted of:
1 - MMFs, a release with a common theme, with business value, or some measure of delivery progress

2 - Testing Packages - a cohesive collection of delivery stories that are teased as a unit as part of package testing 

3 - Delivery Stories - classic agile units of work that go through analysis, development and developer testing
As soon as we completed our first standup my mind started turning towards a better structure to manage the flow and multiple level WIP limits that my client wanted.

It was certainly a struggle to come up with a Kanban design that reflects this relatively complex value stream. I hope I have done it justice. I do have a couple of concerns.

1 - complexity, this board may become hard to manage and it's complexity may make it hard to walk, I also hope visibility os not obscured.

2 - it feels like this board is holding a lot of WIP, if necessary I'll start removing buffers and collapsing states between analysis and development if they aren't adding any value.

3 - I'm new to using WIP at different tiers acting as control points for each other, in this board user stories can be blocked by a lack of movement from testing packages and testing packages can get blocked by a lack of progress with MMF related activities. It will be interesting to see how this works.

4 - I'm unsure how defects will affect the board. Both MMFs and testing packages have dedicated slots, if there is a bug do I create a new dedicated slot for a testing package containing a defect, do I move the whole testing package back, or maybe I should just have dedicated lane for defects 


  1. Interesting experiment. Seems like a lot of WIP. I wonder if it would be possible to finish/prioritize one MMF before starting another. Same for Test Packages.

  2. Yes, once we put it on the board, the empty spaces in certain areas told me the obvious

    Way to much wip,halving the buffers is probable the first thing to cut...