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If a project is already started and the team is using a Kanban Board, who can add more cards to the Backlog? Are there some specific rules? Is it the manager, any of the team members, or are such decision taken after a meeting?

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Kanban on its own does not make a recommendation. It is, after all, a process or method to improve your existing process. It encourages you to start with what you have currently, visualize it and make improvements where possible/ necessary.

So, here are some initial questions to answer -

  1. What is your current process in which new work is identified, categorized, prioritized, scheduled and actually taken up for working on?
  2. Who is currently doing each of those activities?
  3. Are there different types of work items (user stories vs. bugs vs. customer-reported defects, for example)?

That should be your starting point to be visualized either in a separate "upstream" Kanban board - or in upstream columns of the Dev board - or even in a separate swim lane.

Once that analysis is clear, you might define policies on who prioritizes the different kinds of work, at what frequency - and within certain WIP limits.

In our case, for example - we have the following processes in place:

  1. We manage our roadmap in a separate 'upstream' Kanban board. This is the place where key product themes are identified and prioritized - and new stories and enhancements against those themes are identified, prioritized and scheduled for specific releases. We do a monthly roadmap review and a weekly replenishment meetings to manage this board.
  2. We have a Dev Kanban board where work flows in from the Roadmap board based on each Replenishment meeting (and a WIP limit of 15 for the Ready column of the Dev board).
  3. In the Dev board, we also directly log in internal defects (found by our own team) and customer defects (reported by our customers). These are typically prioritized over user stories and enhancements.
  4. Our policies for recording new work items and taking them up for execution are -

a) User Stories/ Enhancements: Anyone can suggest/ Product Management (Owner) prioritizes and schedules.

b) Internal Defects: Anyone can report/ log, Product Management/ Engg Lead evaluate and prioritize.

c) Customer Defects: Customer/ Sales/ Support report and log, typically with Criticality, Engg lead pulls/ assigns on priority over other work if needed.

We have daily standup meetings where any clarifications on priority are discussed or specific work identified for execution if needed. The standup is attended by the full Product Management and Dev team.

Hope this helps.

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Are there some specific rules?

Yes, there should be some specific rules. As to what they are, it is up to you.

In my experience a Product Owner is the ideal candidate for adding cards to the board backlog (as they should have the skills to ensure they're appropriately articulated and that it's a fit for their product).

If you can it's better to have a single point of contact for adding cards to ensure uniformity of content and so you don't get cards where you have to ask "Who added this? What does it mean?".

So the process is typically that anyone can request a card to be added, but the process involves working with a specific person to put the card together and get it on the board.

And it should be able to happen at any time, not just after particular meetings. You can't control when problems/opportunities occur, so you should try not to artificially restrict their flow to getting prioritised.

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Generally speaking anybody can add cards to the board, because the first practice suggests to visualise the workflow. On the other hand, the fourth practise suggests that the team should have explicit policies which should specifically state how new work can enter the system.

Combining these two, teams tend to add new work to the Incoming column and decide together with the PO or PM in which order they let the work enter the system. Additionally, if the card represents something that needs to be done in order to finish something else, they mark it as unplanned.

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If it is a Kanban team then technically any stakeholder can add cards after the stakeholders have negotiated the class or priority of the card.

If it is a team using a Kanban board then it depends on the team. If it is a Scrum team, then the PO should generally be adding the cards.

The important thing is that whoever adds the card:

  1. Has defined the purpose of the work (commonly via user story and/or acceptance criteria)
  2. Has communicated their intention to add the work with other stakeholders (customers, PO, PM, sponsor, etc) in the project to ensure the work is appropriately timed
  3. Has reviewed the proposed work with those who will be doing the work to ensure the work is understood and sized

Your team should have a defined process for who/how cards are added to a Kanban board if they do not explicitly operate as a Kanban Team and many Kanban Teams will still explicitly identify their process since Kanban teams often serve large groups of stakeholders.

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