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

Image Article PMBoK with Kanban BP

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


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