Management promotes new products and services to develop a competitive and differentiating business. The Methodology department insists on applying the defined processes to ensure the quality of the results. At the operational level people cannot cope with the continuous change of priorities.

What is the key to achieving a balance between these?

 

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Models and standards like CMMI, PMBoK, ISO 9001 and ISO21500 provide guidance on how to define processes in order to achieve organization’s strategic goals.

Reading the reference models and methods, all recommended practices make sense and it is hard or impossible to find some that are irrelevant. Nevertheless, lots of companies have difficulties to define well-functioning, standard-compliant processes that facilitate the daily work and fit organization’s purpose.

To get results out of the processes work must flow through the value chain. However, the concept workflow is missing in the above mentioned standards. There is no process, role or means for managing the workflow. As a consequence, there is a workfog between the Organizational level and the Process level. Therefore, the Management is pushing constantly to get results done and people applying the process complain from permanent priority changes, lack of understanding of the real status of the work, hard to apply, bureaucratic process, too much fire-fighting, etc.

Kanban manages the workflow and provides the visibility needed to align both strategic and process-level activities. The three levels of management begin to share the same understanding of the current situation, speak the same language and act in a consistent manner.

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More precisely managing work with kanban systems provides the following means at each level:

  • Strategic level
    • Visibility and understanding of the status of the work
    • Prioritize work requests based on an understanding of their impact on other ongoing activities and taking into account system’s capacity
    • Establish policies for managing the workflow
  • Workflow level (Projects/Services/Operations)
    • Understand the capacity of the people-tools- processes system
    • Respond to changes at strategic level (strategic decisions, customer needs) by appropriately managing the workflow.
  • Process level
    • Ensure that process provide value for the daily work
    • Integrate processes in a coherent and efficient flow, reducing bureaucracy and other types of waste
    • Focus process improvement activities on real needs for the operational workflow
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