Kanban project management originates from Japan, but it’s been widely adopted around the world as a more effective visual solution to improving work productivity. In high-stress environments, using Kanban has grown into a major management philosophy helping to hone in on what’s most important.
At the heart of the concept is using your brain to gain visual cues for more efficient workflow. It started at Toyota in Japan (close to 70 years ago) where the company matched inventory with the demand to achieve higher levels of quality.
Now it’s being used in chaotic work environments, including in the world of IT support, which has always been notorious for a highly stressful atmosphere. Through the use of visualization, focus on workflow, limiting work in process and using analytics, Kanban makes IT support jobs become less of a burden on employees.
Let’s see how it works in this field to prevent exhaustion when dealing with under-staffing.
Finding Where to Make Your Changes
The only way to get started with Kanban is to find out where the problems are in a work area. In IT support, there’s plenty to look at because of the frenetic pace. Analysis has to start by looking at what typically gets done, how long it takes to find solutions, and who takes on which part.
In many IT support offices, technicians have to take requests from various sources like email, website, or via phone with no tools available to write notes. Without those notes to take care of a task later, some issues won’t get solved. The same goes if there’s no method to record what occurred for a follow-up.
Plotting Out a Visual Record of IT Support Tasks
To get started using Kanban techniques, you’ll need to create a chart that breaks IT support tasks into step-by-step procedures. However, this has to start small to eliminate the initial problem of getting overwhelmed.
Using visual cards, you’ll need to place “pending tasks”, “tasks in progress”, “feedback”, and “projects done” on one board. As primitive as it sounds in a digital world, a simple board with sticky notes gives a better visual process to how people work in these settings.
As each card progresses on the board, everyone in the IT support office has awareness of who’s doing what and tracking down what’s occurring. By placing a time stamp on the “projects done” card, it gives a visual record of measuring how long the task took to complete.
Now employees won’t have to work on their own computers or mobile devices and isolating themselves from sharing information.
The True Soul of Kanban: Limiting Work on Simultaneous Tasks
Getting into more Kanban techniques, you’ll start enacting its concept of limiting how much work occurs simultaneously. Despite us living in a multitasking world, trying to take on too much work at once only leads to employee burnout and likely more tasking mistakes.
In IT support, a typical problem is being under-staffed and having limited employees attempting to take on everything at the same time. It’s better to let employees work on one item each for more centered focus. By indicating this on your visualization board, you bring more transparency to what each person is doing.
It helps to add another visual card on the board for pending tasks that are fully read to work on. Doing this brings a better sense of prioritization on which support requests need doing now.
By improving workflow using the processes above, it ultimately reflects on the customers who call in with IT issues. Through the transparency of the visual board, it allows for better follow-ups during the day.
Since Kanban’s basic philosophy is continuous improvement, using a visual board (preferably a whiteboard) inspires continual action to keep your workflow path clear of obstacles.