We are transiting from Scrum to Kanban. One of the things we need to still have to stick to some deadlines (stakeholders need to know some dates).

We have some classes of tasks negotiated with clients (SLA levels). They also have:

  1. Fixed deadline - ordinary tasks that turn into high priority if the deadline is very close.

  2. High priority - tasks to be done as soon as possible.

  3. Expendite - all current work needs to be abandoned and this issue should be addressed. (like PROD env is down or equivalent)

We do grooming of backlog, break deadline items into tasks, decorate them with deadline time. After some time the deadline is approaching, some of the tasks turn to be high priority. Still we are confident about our commitment.

But our boss comes and tells to start working on something equally important (other thing or PROD issue). Now, we understand that we can't deliver committed features on time.

1. How those situation are managed in Kanban?

2. Are there any application that can calculate automatically new delivery date?

P.S. Team is multifunctional so not everybody can do all the work, so personal WIP are also imposed and should be calculated towards new dates.

2 Answers 2


Nothing really to do with Kanban, its just management. Ask the stakeholder which work should be removed from the commitment (or system) to make space for the new work. The good thing about Kanban is, it is a pipeline so you only need to finish one thing at the end and if everyone is available to pull work from the previous stage a free slot should open up at the beginning.

Regarding question 2: I thought your delivery dates were fixed deadlines. If your delivery dates are currently based on calculations, then why cant you redo these calculations to see what the new delivery date might be? If they are decided based on business reasons then calculations might not help.


In Kanban there are no deadlines, only priorities.

The Kanban board is typically in priority order with the highest priority work items at the top and the lowest at the bottom. The team works on the highest priority work item(s) and get them completed first before working on lower priority items.

If a work item has a deadline associated with it then this needs to be translated in to a priority. For example, a work item with a tight deadline might well be the highest priority work item and go straight to the top of the Kanban board.

I would suggest that if your boss comes along and introduces new work that you ask the boss to tell you what the priority is (i.e. how high up the Kanban board the item should be added).

For example, say the team has the following on their Kanban board:

Item X

Item Y

Item Z

The boss comes along and says that there is a new piece of work called Item W. The team asks the boss what the priority of Item W is. The boss replies that it is urgent and needs to be done in a few days time. The team says that they will then put Item W at the top of the Kanban board and work on it as a priority over the other items on the list:

Item W

Item X

Item Y

Item Z

The team informs the boss that this means that Items X, Y and Z will now be delivered later.

  • 1
    Kanban supports estimated delivery dates based on lead/cycle times, but otherwise I agree with you. :)
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 23:15
  • Actually there are deadlines. If a task has to be done by a certain date we can use the Fixed Date class of service. Priorities are actually secondary. Backlogs (or work that has not yet been committed to) is usually not prioritized. Every time someone decides what to pull, they refer to the class of service and the statistics to determine "right now" what the priorities might be among the options to pull, but apart from that items are not usually prioritized relative to one another.
    – Kurt
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 12:02

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