Search results of January 2021

How to integrate PMBOK processes with Kanban practices for greater project success

Project management is challenging because it requires keeping an eye on and taking fast decisions about many aspects of your endeavor: time, costs, quality, resources, stakeholders, suppliers, etc. In today’s rapidly changing business environment running large and complex projects often becomes a hard job. Gartner highlights the importance of adopting an agile approach to project and portfolio management as well as the development of enterprise agility.  PMI reports that executive leaders emphasize the need to develop the skills of the project managers and the maturity of the entire organization.

It is a widely spread myth that the Kanban method is appropriate for managing services but not for projects. Our experience, however, has demonstrated the opposite.

In this post I explain what which Kanban practices, integrated with PMBOK processes have allowed our customers to cope with the common challenges in project management. They can help you too to resolve problems such as project delays, extra costs, conflicting or missing priorities, lack of alignment between project teams, stakeholders and suppliers, ineffective communication, etc.

Furthermore, using the Kanban Maturity Model will help you develop a culture of transparency, respect, focus on customer value and alignment around business purpose. Applying the systems thinking approach to managing work allows you to address complexity in a more informed and competent manner and effectively identify improvements.  Your entire organization grows in adaptability and resilienece.

In the table bellow you can find the Kanban practices that can be used together with other practices in the PMBOK knowledge areas to significantly improve the results of your projects.

Knowledge area Appropriate Kanban practices: Gains:
Project Integration Management
  • Visualize and manage processes and work by means of interconnected kanban systems
  • Collect and analyze workflow and process capability related data
  • Manage workflow
  • Simple consolidation and coordination during projects
  • Fast and up-to-date information about the status of project work
  • Effective project tracking, and reviewing
  • Clear priorities and alignment
  • Informed and quick decision making about resource allocation, prioritizing, managing stakeholder expectations and meeting requirements
  • Continuous and sustainable workflow; optimal utilization of organization’s capacity
Project Scope Management
  • Use real options thinking and an upstream kanban board to manage the process of collecting requirements, defining, and validating project scope and the changes to it
  • Confidence that requirements definitions are completed and communicated on time and meet the criteria for pulling them into the delivery kanban system for further development and implementation
Project Time Management
  • Use explicit policies for managing project work through the network of kanban systems
  • Visualize the workflow, i.e., the stages/activities of developing project work types
  • Use flow-related measures such as lead time per work type, process capability and work in process, including in queues
  • Identify impediments in the processes and recognize deviations and risks for on time delivery
  • Pragmatic planning of schedule management
  • Simpler, faster, and little effort- consuming monitoring and control of project activities
  • More realistic duration estimates
  • Higher project predictability
  • Faster delivery (reduced delays), lower overhead
  • Ability to take fast corrective and preventive actions to minimize the adverse impact of impediments on project success
Project Quality Management
  • Use explicit policies for managing rework as well as criteria for accepting and completing work
  • Analyze blockers and identify sources of delay; Do flow-related data and process capability analysis
  • Identify problematic policies
  • Define actions to improve the flow of work and the customer satisfaction
  • Consistent process quality
  • Higher process efficiency; reduction of the waste of type muri, mura, muda
  • Stronger skills in identifying improvements and conducting continuous process improvement activities in the organization
  • Higher quality of project results; Increased customer satisfaction
Project Resource Management
  • Use kanban boards and explicit policies for managing teamwork



  • Transparency, improved interactions, and more collaboration among team members; Higher trust
  • Greater individual’s skills and competences
  • Greater project team performance; higher team morale, motivation, and satisfaction with accomplishing project objectives
Project Communication Management
  • Use kanban boards to communicate the status of work, deliverables, team workload, impediments in the workflow as well as risks.
  • Use conclusions from data analysis
  • Conduct Kanban cadences (Implement feedback loops)
  • Simple way to an effective and streamlined communication
  • Sustainable rhythm of delivery
  • Alignment between the participating project teams, stakeholders, and suppliers
Project Risk Management
  • Get deeper understanding of the process capability and sources of delay
  • Get deeper understanding of customer demand (project requirements)
  • Use real data and facts about your projects, solutions, processes, customer, and other relevant factors to evaluate risk profiles
  • Ability to cut the materialization of the majority of the risks, i.e., the recurrent problems
  • Stronger abilities to define preventive actions and cope with uncertainty
  • Establishing a comprehensive, concrete, and meaningful framework for managing risks
  • Clear priorities
  • Proactive risk management
Project Procurement Management
  • Use a kanban board and practices to manage your procurement process
  • Consistent and efficient procurement process
Project Stakeholders Management
  • Use Kanban practices for visualizing and managing stakeholder’s engagements
  • Conduct regular Kanban meetings with the stakeholders
  • Straightforward communication
  • Fast feedback about issues related to stakeholder’s expectations

At Berriprocess Agility we are working actively to develop guidelines for Kanban Project and Portfolio Management. We use the evolutionary approach of the Kanban Maturity Model to enable the development of enterprise agility of project organizations. Download our poster here. Have a look at the steps you can take to upgrade your project management methodology.

Let me know your thoughts and experience.

Teodora Bozheva
Accredited Kanban Trainer & Consultant
Co-author of the Kanban Maturity Model


Related posts:

Upgrading your project management process step by step with KMM

Nowadays nobody doubts that adopting an agile approach to project management is the only way to survive and thrive. In the previous article “3 Kanban tactics for taking control over your projects and increase organizational agility in less than a year” we describe what Kanban practices you can integrate in your management routines to achieve greater organizational agility; namely, to make your organization work aligned around a purpose, respond rapidly and adequately to changes in your projects, resolve obstacles quickly, meet deadlines and customer requirements continually and in a sustainable manner.

The Kanban Project and Portfolio Management poster visualizes how your project and portfolio management practices develop together with the capabilities of your organization. The steps we describe follow the Kanban Maturity Model  – a guiding map for companies who seek a gradual approach to greater agility and resilience.

Let us see them in some more details.

ML1 Team Focused – Get visibility and coordination of teamwork

ML1 diagram
A ML1 organization is focused on developing the skills of the teams to work transparently and collaboratively on their assignments.

Visualize development flows

If the entire team is working on a given project, the team board visualizes the state of the modules (deliverables/ features) that are part of the project. In case that different specialist teams are involved in the project, e.g. industrial engineers, software developers, and mechanics, the Deliverable board visualizes the state of work conducted by a given specialist team, and a Project/ Product level board would be used to visualize the overall state of all project deliverables.

As maturity increases organizations start using a Multi-project board at which each ticket represents a project. In addition, the horizontal and vertical axes of the In Progress area are used to visualize how close a project is to delivery (horizontal axis) and to its due date (vertical axis).

Feedback loops

Teams at a ML1 organization typically make daily Kanban and periodic retrospective meetings. The Project/Product managers conduct project monitoring and planning meetings, usually weekly or bi-weekly. Team Leads or entire teams take part in them. On a regular basis the Project/Product Manager participates in a Multi-project monitoring (status) meeting.

Feedback loops ML1


Flow-related metrics are not typically used at ML1.


The visibility in the teamwork, the agreed initial policies for doing the work, and the feedback obtained at regular short time intervals are all essential elements to improve team coordination and performance.

Nevertheless, from customers perspective, the product quality and its on-time delivery depend completely on the skills, motivation and the ability of the team to handle the issues and changes that appear in the course of the project development. Some teams would manage to fulfil their customer requirements, even if this requires extra effort and long working hours. However, many will suffer from unexpected problems, or dependencies on other teams or suppliers. Therefore, customers typically see a ML1 organization as unpredictable and unreliable. From inside, team members often complain from overburdening and inability to cope with changing priorities and meet project deadlines and budget requirements.


ML2 Customer-Driven – See end-to-end project workflow; Start cutting sources of delay

ML2 Diagram

At ML2 you connect teams, visualize and manage the end-to-end project workflow, define and handle appropriately different customer demand, and you take the first actions to reduce delays and budget overruns.

Visualize and manage  development flows

The In-Progress area on the team kanban board shows the stages of the process. This gives you instant information about the progress of each work item. In addition, teams start visualizing blockers, rework and work item aging. Thus, they resolve project issues quickly and hence reduce delays and extra costs.

Having visibility in the state of work and the impediments in the workflow at team, project and multi-project level provides you valuable feedback for planning and making decisions related to any issue that affects a single or several projects. Teams get better in coordinating their activities across projects and develop stronger understanding of the customer. Using a tool like Kanbanize, will give you this information in real time, that is the entire project team will be quickly aware of the actual situation of the project and will be able to propose appropriate actions.


Flow-related data supplies useful information about the real capability of the system, the characteristics and the volume of the demand. You get a quantitative understanding of how much it really takes you to develop a deliverable of certain type (e.g. component, documentation, incident), or an entire project. This is the objective input you need to get better in estimating and scheduling.

You also become aware of the impact of blockages and dependencies on others on the completion of project deadlines and budget. This deeper understanding of your process motivates the introduction of basic policies for managing work across states, teams and business units. You also come to establishing common criteria for prioritizing work considering the customer needs and the capability of the system (compound of the people and machines that develop the project work).

Understanding the causes for the blockers and their impact on the project delivery time and budget is the first step to introducing effective risk management too. Your organization can already think of how to prevent at least the most frequently occurring sources of delays and budget overruns.

If you seriously aspire to see that your projects meet their schedule and budget constraints, your teams are capable to adequately respond to changes in customer requirements, and achieve this consistently, ML2 is your starting point.

Only in very large organizations or complex projects with long life cycle you might need to start from ML1. In any case, if your problem is long project delivery times, you have to know what impedes project progress while time keeps running, and you have to learn to manage these issues. If you lack visibility in the state of the project work, you should visualize all aspects of the work you carry on and make sure that thisinformation is available in real time. If your customers complain from delays, you have to know how much it really takes you to deliver a given type of work. Not how much time you estimate, but how much it really takes, including all the interruptions and time for rework, i.e. from the moment you start working on it until it is finally delivered to the customer.

Metrics ML2

Feedback loops

The focus on managing the end-to-end project workflow, the usage of flow-related metrics, and the better understanding of your customer demand and system (team/organization) capabilities define the topics for your meetings and reviews. As a result, you take control on your projects, improve the cross-team communication and coordination, and see that project delays and budget overruns get reduced.

Feedback loops ML2

You and your people can make it. You desire to deliver projects on time, see customers happy and feel that you keep under control everything you do as a team, as an organization. You are the people who best understand your work. You have the guidelines and tools for putting the right practices in place. And you all are going to be proud and happier working in an organization that values the understanding of your customers, maintaining steady and sustainable flow, obtaining fast data-and-facts feedback, react quickly and adequately to changes and learn systematically from your processes and experience. Take initiative. Make your project work flow.


ML3 Fit-for-purpose – Balance workflow across project/product lines

ML3 diagram
ML3 builds on what you have developed at ML2. At ML3 you get full control on your projects thanks to several key practices:

Visualize and manage development flows

  • You start using full kanban systems with agreed criteria for accepting and managing work items, and this helps creating a sustainable and predictable flow.
  • You use triage and class of service policies that allow you to shape demand, making sure that all customer expectations are met and you have acquired the desired flexibility to adapt to unexpected changes in the project context.
  • You visualize parent-child and pair-to-pair dependencies and use their understanding to make appropriate decisions at all levels. You can adjust the practices for managing internal dependencies and apply them  to managing your suppliers and reduce the uncertainty in subcontracting part of the project work.
  • You get a deeper understanding of your processes, their transaction and coordination cost, the cost of defects, cost of delay and flow efficiency. This allows you to start defining pragmatic actions to see improvement in economic results.


  • Your workflow is stable and your flow-related data allow you to rely on your schedule and respond with confidence to customer questions about delivery time.
  • You introduce additional metrics that help you identify process improvements that will increase flow efficiency, product quality and economic results
  • You define and use KPIs to make sure you manage well your customer expectations
  • You use indicators of organizational health to ensure long-term sustainability of the adopted practices and cultural values

Feedback loops

  • The communication across the entire organization is seamless and fast. Teams and business units act in an aligned manner.
  • All feedback from the kanban boards, data analysis and system reviews is used for making informed decisions.

Feedback loops ML3


  • You get better at addressing risks and responding to uncertainty thanks to your deeper understanding of how your organization works as a system, your real capability, what your customers expect and how the market behaves.
  • Your purpose-driven culture is sustained by effective practices and tools and together they strengthen your business outcomes.
  • Your customers are happy because you adjust rapidly to changes in their requirements and deliver good product quality on time
  • Your people appreciate that “they can go home with no worries because the process is under control and they know where to continue from the next day” (words of a client of ours)


ML4 Risk-Hedged – Improve project portfolio economics

At ML4 you will visualize better dynamic capacity allocation to take more control on your project portfolio. You improve your risk identification, analysis and prevention skills. In addition, you will take advantage from your deep understanding of your critical processes to eliminate waste and improve process efficiency. Altogether, you will achieve greater economic results that will allow you to develop further your market leadership and ability to reinvent.

The vast majority of organizations are still at maturity level 1, some approaching ML2 or heading towards ML3. Therefore, and for the sake of article length, we are going to get deeper into ML4 in future articles.



Resuming, Kanban is your ally for getting your projects under control. It does not substitute your project management method. However, you can upgrade your project management routines with Kanban practices to address effectively the problems you face in daily basis.

Do not put your projects at risk trying to introduce drastic changes to your management practices at once. Follow the evolutionary approach of the Kanban Maturity Model to achieve improvements gradually, avoiding resistance to change.

Enterprise culture evolves together with the management skills and maturity. Read more about this aspect of organizational development in Kanban Maturity Model – Start Change With Heart.


Teodora Bozheva
Accredited Kanban Trainer & Consultant
Co-author of the Kanban Maturity Model


Related posts:

P.S. Follow us for more pragmatic guidance on developing agility of project organizations.

3 Kanban tactics for taking control over your projects and increase organizational agility in less than a year

It is crucial for us to complete our project milestones. We cannot afford any delay.
We must have our projects under control.

– PMO Director of a large company

This is what a PMO Director of a large industrial company told me recently in a conversation regarding their approach to project and portfolio management.

I myself used to manage software development projects and I have been consulting project companies for more than 15 years. Time passes but we keep seeing the following problems in the organizations:

  • Lack of visibility in project work status
  • Late identification of problems and risks and therefore, late reaction
  • Project delays and budget overruns
  • Lack of coordination between project teams
  • Frequently changing priorities and inability to respond to them
  • Wrong estimates, lack of predictability
  • Low product quality, lots of defects and rework
  • Customers requesting better products and services
  • Too much effort needed for obtaining project status information, re-planning, etc.

I am pretty sure you recognize at least some of these challenges and you seek a way to resolve the daily project issues rapidly, so that you can dedicate more time to developing your business. Furthermore, you wish to make space in your daily routine for doing sport, spending time with your family, and have enough sleep… Understandable desires!

Visualize your project team(s) working in a well-coordinated manner. Visualize your organization working in harmony. Visualize your customers happy after receiving the right information about the status of their project and eventually obtaining the requested product or service on time. Visualize yourself focused on how to grow the business and also having enough energy for your leisure time.

Integrating Kanban practices in your project management methodology can take you to what you aspire. This does not mean that you have to make a radical change in your project management.

Managing projects and portfolio with Kanban is not about substituting your project management method with a new one. It is about complementing it with Kanban practices that help you cope with the most painful management problems.

A number of companies have used Kanban to obtain visibility in the real status of their projects, establish clear priorities, align business units, speed up delivery of customer value, achieve smooth and predictable workflow, and develop a culture of transparency, collaboration and focus on business purpose. You can find the case studies of some of these companies on our web site. Making the right steps they saw improvements in less than a year.


3 Kanban tactics for taking control over your projects

The Kanban Project and Portfolio Management poster resumes the three essential routines that will take you and your organization to your aim:

  • Visualize and manage development flows
  • Feedback loops – Introduce the right feedback in your project and portfolio meetings
  • Metrics – Use the right metrics and process understanding for managing the project flow

Using kanban boards to visualize the development flows at every level at which you take decisions brings awareness of the actual status of the project work. Signaling priorities, blockers, rework, capacity and real workload of your teams (system) alert you about risks of delay, overburdening or unsatisfiable product quality. You need this feedback on-time to be able to resolve issues quickly and effectively correct the course of your project towards its deadline.

However, visualization only will not resolve all the challenges in your project management. Although visual boards show important aspects of your work, you will also need data to manage project progress and achieve predictable and balanced flow of results.

The flow-related metrics and data will help you answer questions such as how long does it take us to develop a work item of type A (e.g. a plan, a component, a feature)? What is the impact of a given blocking issue on the project delivery time and budget? With the current capability and workload when do we expect to start and deliver a certain project?

For sure, your project management process includes periodic work reviewing and planning meetings. The Kanban cadences incorporate the systems thinking approach to managing work across the entire organization and seeing work in progress as inventory, even if it is invisible knowledge work. They are focused on providing frequent feedback about unforeseen events, changes to project requirements and/or priorities, system capability, and impact of internal and external dependencies. Integrating them with your current project meetings allows you to make coherent decisions and re-align the team(s) and the organization around project objectives and/or strategic goals.

Overall, ingraining these 3 Kanban tactics in your project management routines strengthen the abilities of your organization to work aligned around a purpose, respond rapidly and adequately to changes in your projects, resolve obstacles quickly, meet deadlines and customer requirements continually. Briefly, they develop your organizational agility.


An evolutionary approach to upgrading your way of project management

As said before, you do not impose new habits all of a sudden. Evolving from where you are to where you aspire to be is a journey. A number of organizations have experienced it and we know the potential barriers on it as well as how to overcome them.

Evolutionary approach diagram

The Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) provides guidance that help you avoid drawbacks and ensure a smooth and inspirational progress of your transformation.

The KMM defines 7 levels of organizational maturity. With respect to project management, maturity level 0 refers to cases when an individual manages their own project work. Organizations typically start from introducing practices for managing team work (maturity level 1, ML1). Then, continue with coordinating one or more teams in an end-to-end project workflow (ML2). ML3 is about aligning several project/product and service lines and balancing the workflows across them in order to continually meet customer expectations in a sustainable manner. ML4 organizations develop strong skills in risk hedging, flow efficiency optimization, dynamic capacity allocation and portfolio management. Therefore, they achieve improved economic results while keeping high level of customer and stakeholder satisfaction. ML5&6 are about building culture and skills for market leadership, congruence, and reinvention.

At each level appropriate Kanban practices are combined with relevant cultural values to ensure that the achieved improvements in the management abilities, organizational culture and business outcomes last long.

Download the Kanban Project and Portfolio poster. It visualizes how your project and portfolio management practices develop together with the evolution of your organization.

Read Upgrading your project management method step by step with the KMM for more details and insights.

Follow us to learn more about developing agility of project organizations.

Related posts:

Teodora Bozheva
Accredited Kanban Trainer & Consultant
Co-author of the Kanban Maturity Model