Startups are in a unique position in the business world. They have a long way to go, plenty to prove, money to raise, and competition to beat. In a business world where half of all companies are going under in five years or less, early approaches are often key indicators of future success. One wrong move could create a domino effect of chaos for baby businesses, and startup founders are doing their best to ensure the longevity of their products.
Because of this, the methodology they choose is crucial. Startups are always changing. Depending on market research, customer feedback, new technology, and multiple moving factors, it’s the norm for startups companies to pivot. And in a business environment where the landscape is always shifting, there needs to be a methodology in place to address those changes head on.
Kanban is an agile framework, similar to Scrum, but with different execution. “Agile” is a collaborative development approach that guides the team through an iterative processes. It allows everyone to respond to changes without changing the structure process. For startups, the Kanban methodology is particularly attractive for efficiency, and there are several reasons why. Here’s what you need to know:
Increased Development Efficiency
The Kanban approach revolves entirely around maximizing efficiency for each task—in other words, getting things done. With Kanban boards, teams can visualize their workflow from start to finish, as it comes on a rotating basis. The overarching goal: to shorten the project timeline.
Developers will find this level of efficiency particularly useful, especially when the main goal is to scale down the amount of work in progress at any given time. When you remove all the standard controls in development, like speediness and sprints, what’s left is the developer’s ability to work with efficiency without interruptions—and enjoy doing it.
Although there are more complex methodologies and platforms with stronger management features, startup developers can use Kanban boards for their deployment. They can achieve their development goals by allowing each board to represent a different environment. For instance, you might use a board to organize a Kubernetes cluster or manage your Docker tasks and registry (more on that here). From here, you can easily move those tasks from column to column, without all the fuss on metrics and complicated tools.
Unlike Scrum, which helps team members identify specific roles in the organization, Kanban creates accountability and ownership across the entire company. Everyone uses the Kanban board, igniting a collective responsibility. This level of ownership is so important for early startups, where teams are small and everyone should be equally and deeply involved in the process.
The ability to work cohesively together and deliver important tasks in the most transparent manner is necessary, and it also sets the foundation for how the company operates and grounds its culture moving forward. While your methodology may change as you grow, the steadfast transparency, communication, and teamwork remain with you long after Kanban is no longer an integral part of your processes.
Project management is a crucial piece of the startup puzzle because startups need to constantly be able to meet demands and deliver. Goals need to be put in place and tracked carefully. With Kanban boards, simple workflow stages are shared and communicated seamlessly. Common Kanban boards include To Do, In Progress, In Review, Blocked, and Completed. However, you can customize the board and arrange them in any order you see fit.
“Lead time” and “cycle time” are the metrics used to determine the average time to complete a task, and with an analytical tool called Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD), you can better analyze the amount of work items across each stage and remove bottlenecks.
Prime Time Flexibility
One of the benefits of running a startup is that you can adhere to a more flexible schedule, before too many investors and customers begin shaping your output. Kanban is ideal for this because nothing is quite set in stone—instead of focusing on when something will get done, you can focus on the most important deliverables and what’s necessary to achieve them in the most efficient manner possible. While Scrum has a release milestone for each sprint, Kanban makes room for a more flexible production schedule. This way, companies can adapt to changes with ease and rearrange workflow stages accordingly.
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