Visualstudio Online: Kanban basics

Visualstudio Online: “Kanban basics”


To maximize a team’s ability to consistently deliver high quality software, Kanban emphasize two main practices. The first, visualize the flow of work, requires you to map your team’s workflow stages and configure your Kanban board to match. The second, constrain the amount of work in progress, requires you to set work-in-progress (WIP) limits. You’re then ready to track progress on your Kanban board and monitor key metrics to reduce lead or cycle time.

Your Kanban board turns your backlog into an interactive signboard, providing a visual flow of work. As work progresses from idea to completion, you update the items on the board. Each column represents a work stage, and each card represents a user story (blue cards) or a bug (red cards) at that stage of work.

Sample KANBAN Board

Kanban board, Agile template

User stories and bugs correspond to types of work items. You use work items to share information, assign work to team members, update status, track dependencies, and more.

You open your Kanban board using one of these URLs that connects you to your team project:

Visual Studio Online: http://AccountName/DefaultCollection/TeamProjectName/_backlogs/board/

On-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS): http://ServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/TeamProjectName/_backlogs/board/

If you don’t have a team project yet, create one in Visual Studio Online or set one up in an on-premises TFS. If you don’t have access to the team project, get invited to the team.

Kanban core practices

What is Kanban?

Having worked through the above four steps, you’re well on your way to implementing most of Kanban’s “six core practices”.

  1. Visualize your workflow. Teams track their work using a Kanban board that maps to how they work. Teams discuss how to best focus their resources to deliver the most important work.
  2. Limit work in progress. Teams set and adhere to WIP limits they set for each stage of work. They use WIP limits to maintain focus on completing what they started and to identify bottlenecks occurring in their processes.
  3. Manage flow. Teams monitor the overall work in progress and lead time, which gives them an idea of the speed of their delivery.
  4. Make policies explicit. Teams spell out the standards and processes they agree to follow and make them readily accessible. For example, by making the team’s Definition of Done for each work stage explicit, they can avoid wasted time and effort.
  5. Create opportunities for feedback. Teams meet periodically to reflect on what’s working and what needs improvement.
  6. Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally. Teams determine how to improve the continuous flow of delivery over time based of key metrics. They involve the entire team to gather insights and ideas. And, when persistent bottlenecks arise, they determine the changes that will alleviate them.

Over time, Kanban can provide your team insight as to how well their current processes work end-to-end and how to improve them. Incremental adoption of Kanban practices tends to yield greater success and builds on the sixth practice, to evolve experimentally. These practices arose from principles of Lean Manufacturing and Systems Thinking.


Plan and track work, Keep the team focused

A good set of tools will help know which is the status of a given task, how does it contribute to the overarching story or what work has been done until today. Make sure your team checks the tools included on your Visual Studio Online account.

Keep (and honor) your backlog. It wi l help you define the work that needs to be done.
Track task completion on the Kanban board, a visualization that helps the team know what’s in progress, who’s doing what, what needs to be done next and what’s been done.
Break down the work in sprints.
Let the information flow in the team rooms.