Agile Frameworks – Kanban (Part 5)

Over the last few months, we have been covering our six-part New Ways of Working for Market Researchers series. Last month we looked at Agile, what it is, the core characteristics of an Agile team, and why Agile is relevant to market researchers.

This month we’re diving deeper into Agile by looking at one of the most popular frameworks for Agile processes – the Kanban. We’ll discuss what Kanban is and what benefits it can give market researchers.

Core characteristics of the Agile framework

Agile is an iterative approach to project management that allows teams to quickly adapt to changing requirements and focus on continuous delivery in the form of small increments, rather than a single final product. 

Agile frameworks

The four Agile frameworks are as follows:

  1. Transparent
    Transparency is one of Agile’s core characteristics. By being transparent, teams can understand who is responsible for the work required and when it needs completing.
  2. Efficient
    Agile frameworks are designed to be efficient and eliminate “waste”. These Agile frameworks can map out work that needs to be done from a low to high priority, to ensure that the right resources and manpower are directed to the right places.
  3. Adaptable
    Flexibility is important in Agile frameworks as the scope of work can change from new learnings. By being able to shift and adjust what needs to be done, teams can continuously evaluate requirements and results, and improve upon these findings rather than sticking to an outdated plan.
  4. Responsive
    Agile frameworks thrive on teams that have initiative. Teams using Agile frameworks not only identify new problems but solve them as well. By being responsive to the task at hand teams can work more effectively within an Agile framework.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a popular visual framework that aims to maximize efficiency by limiting work-in-progress tasks.

Within this framework, the aim is to list all tasks needed to complete project deliverables and continuously work through those tasks on the Kanban board until they are completed. Teams using Kanban benefit from full transparency of the work and knowledge of who is accountable for it.

Why is Kanban relevant to market research?

Use of Kanban isn’t restricted to software development. The framework can also be applied to other industries. This is because Kanban is an effective and efficient way of working. In particularly, Kanban can help market researchers understand who is tackling a problem and what needs to be done about it.

Kanban board example

Kanban board example

Image: Northstar Research Partners

The Kanban board

The Kanban board is a visual representation of project deliverables split into smaller tasks. Each task is represented by a card on the board. As each card moves across the board to completion, team members may visually track all progress.   

Kanban card movement

Kanban cards contain information about the task, such as:

  • What needs to be done?
  • What is the priority of the task?
  • Who is responsible?
  • When is the deadline?

All project-relevant information should be laid out on the cards. This means Kanban cards can be used as information sources and reduce the need for actual meetings.

The card’s position on the board reflects the stage in which the task is at, representing g following statuses:

  • To be done
  • In progress
  • Completed

This allows teams to see the state of each task at any time. This improves transparency within teams to understand what needs to be done and how far along is the project completion.

Benefits of Kanban

A Kanban-based approach comes with a variety of benefits:

  1. Continuous flow
    The project deliverables are split into smaller achievable tasks and designated to different team members. This means as team members complete each task and bring them to the next stage, team members are free to pick up new tasks or continue another member’s task at different stages. Therefore, the project is continuously moving and improving.
  2. No fixed roles
    With no fixed roles apart from completing their task, team members are also able to add new tasks to the board for other team members. This allows the whole team to not only find solutions but find new problems as well.
  3. Minimise wasted time and effort
    Kanban cards can be assigned to team members to avoid overlap. However, to minimise wasted time and work, team members can also choose tasks in order of priority to keep the project moving along efficiently. As the cards are prioritised, team members can instantly move on to the next most important task.

Next month…

In next month’s Monthly Dose of Design, we’ll discuss a second Agile framework – SCRUM.

Header Image: Eden Constantino, Unsplash

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below and never miss the latest news.