Kanban boards are becoming quite popular for marketing departments in various industries and their effects, while subtle, can have a significant benefit translated into efficiency and improved marketing management.
Kanban is a Japanese word that translates to signboard or billboard. It was introduced back in 1940s when Toyota workers started using cards (Kanbans) to signal each other when more parts were needed.
Kanban boards ensured the company only produced as much parts as were needed preventing overproduction of parts. The use of such boards was later adopted by software developers and is now a proven methodology in marketing. Today, a Kanban board comprises various columns that depict the progress of a marketing or development process from start to finish.
It all begins with outlining the lifecycle of the process through all involved phases. Tasks are placed in the first column which is a backlog that contains a (to-do) list. When an employee is ready to work on a project, they push it out of the backlog to the next column and this is repeated throughout the phases until the project is completed and released.
A comprehensive Kanban board should have several columns including;
- Work backlog
- Visualization storyline columns
- Work in progress caps/limits
- Time tracking and deadlines
- Continuous release schedules
For agile marketers, a Kanban board is a handy tool that can be used to achieve a lot of things not limited to the following;
This is a no brainer; Kanban boards include extensive backlogs where tasks and projects are listed based on their importance. Using the pull-driven model, employees will only focus on what comes first on the board and work on the project through the various phases.
Each column is also limited so you cannot have several projects tied in one phase. This makes it easy to prioritize projects and see to the end of each before others are pursued. However, this does not mean only one project can be handled at a time as Kanban boards allow continuous production.
Anything that has not been incorporated on the board, however important it may be, will receive no attention from the employees.
Create Transparency In Your Team
When Kanban boards were originally used in the manufacturing factory, they played a very simple role. Workers lifted their cards to signal other departments when more parts were needed and took the card down once the need was met. In the marketing world, Kanbans play the same role of creating transparency and clarity.
All stakeholders can see where the project has reached at a glance and make any necessary preparations for the next cause of action once that phase is completed. Good Kanban boards also have timeframe tracking that remind employees of project deadlines once it enters the “In Progress” column
Keep Questions/Comments Associated With A Specific Task
Kanban boards do not only track the progress of a given project, but also make it possible to monitor each task involved within a given phase. Marketers can incorporate questions and comments in their boards to provide a clearer picture of what is taking place within the given phase. Other employees can view these comments and make decisions on what is to be done next to facilitate the ongoing stream of activities.
Questions and comments create a more efficient interaction and communication. They also ensure operations run smoothly and everyone is up to speed. If a specific task is to be completed before any progress is made, comments can be left to help speed up the process without missing any points.
Provide An Agile Approach To Marketing
The benefits of agile marketing cannot be overstated and such discussions circulate the internet as experts and bloggers alike convince businesses on the importance of agile approach to marketing. The real challenge still remains establishing schemes and strategies that can provide basis for an agile approach. Using Kanban boards is a fair start, but it will take more to have a fully integrated agile approach.
Kanbans provide real-time monitoring and tracking to inform everyone that views the board. When all employees are up to speed, it is much easier to work as a team towards the same direction thus completing projects and tasks within their time limit. What’s more, these boards have sections for comments, questions and feedback alerts.
Create Clear Lines Of Responsibility
With a Kanban board, assigning tasks to specific staff members should be no problem. Everyone can clearly see where they come into the project and where their responsibilities end. This also improves communication and efficiency as members can contact those responsible for a specific task for inquiries, questions and clarification before they continue.
Comments can also be left for specific people. Kanban boards open doors to seamless communication between project members thus increasing the team’s efficiency and ability to overcome challenges. Clear responsibilities also prevent disputes as each member knows what tasks they are supposed to do and where they hand it over to the next group.
Unlike scrum, Kanban boards allow for continuous release where members work on given tasks and move the project to the next phase once they are done allowing them to focus on the next item in the list. They offer marketers an inexpensive, yet efficient way to achieve agile marketing and streamline various processes. Any kind of business can benefit from using this simple methodology and establish a practice of having Kanban Boards for all their marketing processes.
In order to achieve the efficiencies attributed to these boards, it is important to understand the complexity of tasks, projects and all the stages involved from start to finish. You may need to train employees on how to effectively use Kanbans or even get experts to illustrate how they work.
Nevertheless, it should not take much effort to develop one. If you have been finishing projects without one, then you probably already know what key aspects are important to include in the Kanban. It will add efficiency to your existing system and increase communication if not speed up the entire process.
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Also published on Medium.