Using the Enterprise Kanban Board to coordinate multiple teams

Posted on January 18th, 2011 in Kanban, Lean by siddharta || 3 Comments

Most of the time it takes multiple teams from across the organization to deliver an “Epic” (See this post on multi-tier kanban for more on Epics). In this post, I’ll take a look at using enterprise kanban boards to coordinate these teams.

When you think about it, multiple teams are the norm, and its really rare for one team to deliver the whole business value. Here are some examples of how multiple teams may be involved

  • The development team builds a feature. Once its deployed, the website team needs to create a page on the website. The marketing team has to update marketing materials and promote the epic with press releases and newsletters. Only when all of these happen can the epic be considered done.
  • A product is supported in multiple editions, for example SaaS and onsite editions, which involve different teams.
  • A feature is to be added to both the current and previous version of a product. Each version is developed by a different team.
  • Teams are divided by platform, for example Windows Platform Team and Linux Platform Team. Each of these teams may develop platform specific versions of multiple products.

As a product company with both SaaS and onsite editions, we regularly encounter the first two types of coordination. It’s easy for these cross team coordination to fall through the cracks. For example, deploying a feature without the follow up marketing means that the feature is still in-progress, as the business value won’t be realised until it is complete end-to-end. Without visibility into this, it’s easy to miss out and find that you have a lot of features that are elaborated, but not developed, or developed but not integrated into marketing, and so on.

An enterprise kanban board gives visibility into these kinds of bottlenecks.

The Scenario

So here is a scenario that we’ll try to visualize using the enterprise board. Lets say that you have an epic that consists of two features. Each feature will be worked on by a different team. After both the features are deployed, the web team needs to update some pages on the website.

To start with, take a look at the blog post on multi-tier kanban as I’ll be building on that post.

What we do is to define epics that cut across all the work that needs to be done.

We can then flow the appropriate stories on the respective team board

Once both the stories are complete, the epic moves to the next column, and the web team stories are moved to the web kanban board.

Once the web team is done, the Epic is also moved to the done column.

Now, if both features are not completed, the Epic remains in the dev column on the enterprise board, highlighting that something else needs to be done. Or if the development is done, but the website work is stalled, then the Epic will remain in the Marketing column. By tracking bigger features on an enterprise board, bottlenecks and coordination issues become visible, and you can take action to resolve the bottleneck.

Webinar on Leveraging Enterprise Kanban

I’ll be expanding on these ideas in a free, one hour webinar on Leveraging Enterprise Kanban. The webinar will happen on the 19th of January, 9:30 PM IST (see time in other timezones). Sign up for the webinar to join the discussion.

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3 Responses to “Using the Enterprise Kanban Board to coordinate multiple teams”

  1. toolsforagile Says:

    Using the Enterprise Kanban Board to coordinate multiple teams – http://toolsforagile.com/blog/archives/6… #kanban #businessagility

  2. projekt_log Says:

    RT @toolsforagile: Using the Enterprise Kanban Board to coordinate multiple teams – http://toolsforagile.com/blog/archives/6… #kanban #businessagility

  3. Teodor Says:

    Link to multi-tier kanban article is not working. Could you fix it?

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