Extend Agility Beyond the Team with Lean Thinking and the Portfolio Kanban

Introduction

The Agile Method is an approach to project management that is designed to help development teams effectively that characterize the creation of new software applications. Continuous Software Engineering and DevOps studies are also the examples of how the software development domain is approaching aspects of agility beyond software development teams. A SAFe portfolio is a single instance of the Framework that manages a set of Value Streams for a specific business domain (e.g., consumer banking, commercial insurance etc). Each value stream delivers a set of software and system Solutions which helps the enterprise meet its business strategy, either by providing value directly to the customer or in support of internal business processes.

The Benefits Of Implementing Lean-Agile

The primary concern for our customers is, not only to innovate quickly and meet customer needs, but to ensure that regulations and quality standards are met, all without sacrificing business goals. Developers and engineers work diligently to build some new product or service and then at the very end it, it’s run through the compliance hoops. The problems are uncovered at the very end. If problems are uncovered, teams must loop back to address them. They must uncover all the impacted areas, and then, if the team didn’t plan appropriately, miss deadlines for delivery to customers. This creates problems both in customer expectation as well as in the markets for publicly held companies.

The way to prevent that is to build and address compliance by working in smaller batches and creating a small but fully functioning component, then testing, releasing and gathering feedback. This makes it easier for teams to confirm that the product is meeting standards and achieving business goals before the stakes are too high. Also, errors are easier see coming and prevent, and when they creep in and are uncovered after, then the trouble spots can be identified faster, and the solution can be altered on a smaller scale.

 Portfolio Kanban

The Portfolio Kanban is applicable across all the levels, starting from the team level to the product management or program management, reaching as high as C-level strategy execution. The Kanban Method is a way to design, manage, and enhance the workflow of a development project, enabling organizations to begin with their existing workflow and make gradual improvements by visualizing the flow of work, limiting work in progress, and focus on completing the work. This method takes its name from the use of Kanban, visual signaling mechanisms, to control work in progress. A term for systems using the Kanban Method is flow, reflecting that work flows continuously.

Foundational Principles of the Kanban Methodology

  • Start with what you are doing: The Kanban Method strongly emphasizes not making any change to your existing process right away. Kanban must be applied directly to the current workflow. Any changes needed, can occur slowly over a period of time at a pace the team is comfortable with.
  • Agree to pursue incremental change: Kanban encourages small incremental changes rather than making radical changes, which leads to resistance within the team and organization.
  • Initially, respect current roles and job-titles:  Kanban does not impose any organizational changes by itself. So, it is not necessary to make changes to your current roles and functions which may be performing well. The team will collaboratively identify and implement changes which are required. These principles help the organizations overcome the emotional resistance and the fear of change that usually accompany any change initiatives in an organization.
  • Encourage acts of leadership: Kanban encourages continuous improvement at all the levels of the organization. Leadership acts don’t have to originate from senior managers only. People at all levels can provide ideas and show leadership to implement changes and to improve the way they deliver their products and services.

Benefits of Portfolio Kanban For The Organization

  • After mastering Kanban, teams are prone to losing visibility of the bigger picture. The tasks get done, but the connection to the parent project or initiative is easily lost.
  • With Portfolio Kanban, you can break down large projects into multiple levels of smaller tasks until you have Minimal Marketable features, and link them between each other.
  • This way the organization can have a transparent view of the progress of your initiatives based on the number of the smaller assignments that your teams have completed.

Conclusion

Lean Thinking, proves that the principles have helped practitioners to absorb central ideas of lean production and to start the transformation of mass production into lean. When teams master Kanban on the team level, they start delivering value faster than ever before. All parts of the Organization start moving even faster, it becomes a real challenge to get the bigger picture and figure out the actual state of affairs. This increased team velocity requires a new way of tracking project status and this is how the Portfolio Kanban Management extends agility to the team

Marina CH

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