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I'm trying to apply Jira's Kanban to our development team to make our work more manageable and predictable. The development team consists of three backend Java developers and one tester. The developers implent new features, write unit tests, fix bugs. A tester performs manual testing and new writes tests. We came up with the following workflow: READY_FOR_DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT, CODE_REVIEW, TESTING, DONE.

But it never happens that we have a large amount (or zero) of tasks in one column. I don't feel like this board is helping us in any way.

Maybe the steps we have chosen for our wolrkflow are too trivial? What Kanban workflow have you used in development teams (consisting of developers and testers)? How did it help your team?

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There's more to Kanban than just using a board to visualize the work. It seems like you may be missing two key aspects - a pull system and work-in-progress limits.

The workflow that you describe seems mostly correct. I would add one additional state between CODE_REVIEW and TESTING - READY_FOR_TESTING. This would help implementing a pull system, where the tester can clearly see what work has completed code review and choose which work item(s) from those to begin testing.

In the definition of the board, you didn't mention work-in-progress (WIP) limits. Most of the columns should have WIP limits. Once you establish these limits, work should not enter a column unless it has room under its WIP limit. This is a signal to the team to start moving work to the DONE state before starting new work and moving it to the workflow.

I believe that making a pull system more explicit and defining WIP limits will reveal bottlenecks in your process, which can then be addressed by the team.

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  • Thank you! I just suppose that using personal WIP limit (equal to 1 or 2) can completely replace Kanban and the Kanban board. What are the benefeats of Kanban over the approach of not-taking more than 1 or 2 task per person? – Chris Brettini Jan 12 at 17:46
  • @ChrisBrettini Kanban is about the team. The team takes responsibility for getting work done and for owning and improving the processes. If you had personal WIP limits, you wouldn't have a team, you'd have a bunch of individuals doing their own thing. For software development, I wouldn't advise it for more reasons than can fit into a comment. Focusing on the team delivery process is, more often than not, a good solution to many problems. – Thomas Owens Jan 12 at 19:32

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