Organizing Software Projects with Kanban

Tracking tasks does not have to be Rocket Science! Absurdly simple, profoundly liberating and insane to ignore! We are going to look into Kanban.

Kanban is fantastically simple. We will create a board with 3 columns, Todo, Work In Progress and Complete.

Each column is populated with a single card for every task that must be done. The cards are prioritized and move through the system as the work progresses.

Good Kanban Reference

My goal is NOT to describe Kanban itself. Instead, here is a good video if you are not already familiar with it.

TODO add a good reference video to how Kanban works

The important things to take-a-way from the idea of Kanban is already acting as if:

  • the tasks have been written in a 1-2 day granularity
  • the board is being updated regulary

Then everybody will know exactly what progress has been made since the last reference.

Task Lists Evolve

We must embrace this fact: The tasks we began thinking about during the Customer Disovery session while defining the MVP was probably pretty accurate, but almost certainly incomplete.

You can not know, what you do not yet know.

This is the most difficult aspects of building novel software.

The reality is that unforeseen issues will pop up that must be added to our Todo list at any given time. We’ll also find that many of our original tasks were very high level and will necessarily need to be broken down into smaller tasks.

Assigning Todo Items

As a person with a particular skill becomes available they are matched up with the next task on the to do list.

The task or the kanban card is then assigned to that particular person and moved into the Work In Progress (WIP) list.

Tests Define the Exit Criteria

During this phase of the process, a deeper level of thought needs to be put into the tests that must be written to establish a successful completion of this task.

These tests will become part of the software itself, continuing for evermore ensure to be run everytime a change is committed to the source base, the quality of software consistently gets better.

Contstraints on the WIP

A prioritized Todo list and a WIP that allows only a single (or two) item(s) per person, will help ensure that the progress of the project is visible to everybody that cares to look.

Stacking Small Victories

Keep the tasks small. A developer should be able to complete a task in a day or two max. If tasks become three or four days they most likely can and should be broken into smaller tasks.

This is important because the development team needs to see victories and needs to have successes. Likewise, management needs to see progress, and customers need to experience new features and improvements.

Eventually, the task is moved into the Complete column and the software is delivered to the customer. (More on the software release process later).

Github Projects

Github provides a relatively new (2020) feature called projects, that allow one to easily create a Kanban board. Github projects allow users to create cards and track the github issues.

Your development team has access to this wonderfully integrated tool, all for free right now.

Subscribe below if you would like help getting your team started.

TODO - Provide a screenshot

Github Issues

Project cards represent a big picture/high level view of the project and how it progresses, whereas the github issues are the place to keep the details of the the change requests, actions to recreate bugs and support for new feature requests.

Github Projects allow a single click to convert a Card into a Github Issue which then keeps the Project Cards and Issues in sync.

The integration of a Github Project board with the Github Issues is a perfect combination of the right balance between communicating with non-technical project stake holders and the more technical details developers need to program by.

TODO - Screen shot github issues and project cards links.