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Our UX team is shifting to Kanban so we can manage our workload and projects better. My question is, how do we represent tasks that require a collaborative effort on the board? Do we break it out into cards for each person? How do we then account for the fact that different tasks are different size s without going to scrumban?

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  • I believe there's also a project management stakexchange forum. You might want to try asking there as well. pm.stackexchange.com
    – nightning
    Jun 15, 2016 at 23:23

2 Answers 2

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In the Kanban process, who is doing the actual work, how much collaboration is needed, or even the size/complexity of the work is not terribly important. People will naturally collaborate when they see that a task is not moving on the board.

The strength of the Kanban is to allow the team to easily visualize where a particular item is at a given time. If majority of your larger items require analysis, design, implementation and testing, then create these as columns on your Kanban. When people see an item lingering at a given column, the people with the right expertise will jump on it. You don't need to plan for collaboration beforehand. This avoids a lot of overhead associated with waterfall processes. For smaller items that don't require all the steps, simply skip over the columns. There's no need to explicitly mention the size of the work. Because regardless of its size, if that's the highest priority item, the team should get it done.

It'll be nice for people to know who's working on what for discussions, so definitely have people's avatars on the task they're working on. If people are collaborating, you'll see multiple avatars on the task.

Another way you can facilitate collaboration is through daily stand-ups. The team review the kanban together every morning. Should there be interviews, client session etc that need to be schedule ahead of time, the stand-up is a great time to remind the team about them. Knowing that and seeing the board should be sufficient for people to self organize in getting the work done.

Comment on WIP limit: A Work In Progress (WIP) limit is important here to help your team stay focus. If you start seeing bottlenecks because you're constantly hitting the WIP limit at a particular stage, then the team can look into addressing the root cause for inefficiencies. Minor task to task variability in lead time washes out over time. In my experience, velocity measurements aren't terribly accurate. So don't be overly concern about fluctuations. The WIP limit bottlenecks are plenty sufficient for identifying problems.

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  • very nice answer!
    – Devin
    Jun 16, 2016 at 4:51
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I guess it depends on your process workflow and team structure. It may mean that because you don't have a linear process (e.g. design --> build --> test) or a team where each member has a specific role (e.g. there might be a person doing business analysis while also designing and coding at the same time - unicorn sighting perhaps!) then you will have to cater for it differently.

One approach you can take is to 'tag' each task as having different facets or aspects required for its completion. So in the case where the collaborative effort is due to a task requiring analysis and design (for example) then perhaps you can tag the task with both 'analysis' and 'design' flags instead of creating two separate tasks (which you could do if there are no dependencies). Or in the case where the collaborative effort is due to a task that has external dependencies (e.g. outsourced to an offshore team), then you can tag the task with 'internal' and 'external' teams to indicate collaboration instead of creating two separate tasks (which you could do if there are no dependencies).

In terms of displaying planning and estimation of effort, if you are going to create separate cards then you can estimate separately, or sum the effort estimates if you keep it to a single card. You'll probably have to find a suitable tool to do this kind of process management because most applications cater for very generic scrum processes only.

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  • Interesting! Though I'm thinking more in terms of capturing the fact that multiple people participate in a task at once. For example, it often takes two people to sit in on interviews, or sometimes it takes the whole team to do an affinity diagram ( and that can't be broken up into several tasks. It's literally several hours of everyone participating in a sticky note exercise.) I imagine combo of single person tasks and multi person tasks would skew the wip?
    – kaylithin
    May 16, 2016 at 13:24

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