What does a Work In Progress Limit mean?

Posted on June 17th, 2009 in Kanban by siddharta || No Comment

One of the goals of Agile is to limit the amount of work in process. This means that they strive to complete features to a “done” state before starting out on another feature. Agile teams minimize the work in progress by working in small batches in each iteration, and moving each feature through to completion by the end of the iteration. Thus, the work in progress never exceeds the size of the iteration backlog.

Some teams go a step further and limit the work in progress for each state in the workflow. For example, they might say that only two items can be in development at a time. If the queue is full, then the previous step in the workflow waits until a development slot is empty, at which point they pull a card from the previous stage. The idea behind doing this is to ensure that the input doesn’t exceed capacity, for example by pushing more stories into development than there is capacity to complete them.

We blogged about this kind of development way back in 2007. Read it here. For more details, do read the original article on Kanban in Action.

Setting WIP limits in Silver Catalyst

Note: Set the field to -1 if you are doing classical agile and you do not want WIP limits. If you want to implement WIP limits, then read on.

Silver Catalyst: Work In Progress (1)

You can set the WIP limit in the Workflow page of the project settings. By enabling WIP limits for workflow states, you can implement a Kanban “pull” process with Silver Catalyst.

Silver Catalyst - Work in Progress (2)

The WIP limit field in Silver Catalyst simply allows you to set a limit for each “in progress” state in the workflow. Silver Catalyst will not allow you to move more cards above the WIP limit for that workflow state.

Silver Catalyst - Work In Progress (3)

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