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I'm trying to apply kanban to a team that has a specific process workflow designed by the client to deliver items.

I'm facing some struggle on a specific step that requires an item to be modified by a team member and then running an evaluation step that requires some waiting time. Based on that evaluation values, there is the need to go back to the modifying item step, and rerun again the evaluation, and stay on this loop until we are satisfied with the evaluation values to advance to the next step.

This evaluation step has a lot of waiting time (depending on the size of the modification) and the application that runs it is not stable, so it is really important to show the impact that it does on our flow.

Based that we shouldn't go backwards on a kanban board, how should we be able to tackle this loop step?

Edit based on replies: On those 2 steps that we have the loop, one is work in progress, the other is relevant waiting time where the team member can pull other kanban card.

Thanks

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  • What causes the need to need to go back to modifying and then rerun the evaluation? Can this reasonably be considered "rework" where it's possible to improve the process to enable flow? Or is this a process where you cannot reasonably assess the quality of the work without the evaluation step? I'm curious if your tools allow you to count cycles and time in a state across cycles - understanding the number of times that work has entered the evaluation step and the total time spent in the evaluation step can help you figure out average time in evaluation step to show the impact of instabilities.
    – Thomas Owens
    Feb 15, 2023 at 16:26
  • It doesn't pass the step until it passes the step. It isn't done till it passes quality review. You could code it as blocked until it passes quality review
    – MCW
    Feb 15, 2023 at 17:59
  • @ThomasOwens It is a process that I cannot avoid to evaluate the impact that our input is having on the full system. There is no other way to assess that, and if it causes bad results we need to do more modifications until we are happy with the result and finally get out of this cycle. It isn't even a regression testing (that we do later on), it is a test that shows the impact of our input...
    – Zé Bentao
    Feb 15, 2023 at 19:44
  • @MCW I'm really inclined to go on the direction of what you said, even with the concept of the cycle...
    – Zé Bentao
    Feb 15, 2023 at 19:46

2 Answers 2

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I wonder if you might consider having the modification and evaluation being represented by a single stage in your Kanban board. Then perhaps use a veritical separation to show the exact status of the tickets within that stage.

You would continue to use the usual analysis of your workflow, but looking to optimise the modify-evaluate stage as a single step.

For example:

Last month items spent an average of 14 days in the modify-evaluate stage, but this month that has increased to 16 days. Perhaps we need to investigate this?

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    My concern about this solution is that option would include, as part of this single step, a work in progress part (the modification of the item) and a waiting part (the running of the evaluation) that can take more than half of a day, which the team member has the opportunity to pull other task...
    – Zé Bentao
    Feb 15, 2023 at 12:11
  • I take your point, but at the end of the day what matters most is the cycle time. By making it a single stage it directs the team to think of ways to improve it as one step. Perhaps there are ways to reduce the evaluation time or to reduce the number of repeats of modify-evaluate? Feb 15, 2023 at 17:32
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It sounds like you are trying to implement a Kanban board for your team's specific process workflow, but you are struggling with a specific step that requires a loop of modification and evaluation. Since Kanban boards typically flow in a linear manner, it may seem challenging to handle this loop step.

One approach could be to create a separate "loop" area on your Kanban board that is specific to this step. This area can show the items that are currently in the loop and their status. It is important to make sure that these items do not block the flow of other items on the Kanban board, so you can set a limit on the number of items that can be in this loop area at any given time.

Additionally, you can consider breaking down the modification and evaluation step into smaller sub-tasks to achieve a better understanding of the process and to make progress visible. You can then track these sub-tasks on your Kanban board, which will give you a more detailed view of the process flow and allow you to see where the bottlenecks are.

Ultimately, the key to successful implementation of Kanban is to remain flexible and open to making adjustments as necessary based on the team's specific needs and the nature of the work being done. It is important to continuously review and improve your process to ensure that the team is working efficiently towards achieving business goals.

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