All About Kanban

In the spirit of continuing with the article roundup, this week I present to you everything related to Kanban. If you are still wondering how push and pull differs or what does WIP limit stand for, this one is for you. So take a look and dive into the world of self-organization and progress.

The Basics

Just starting with one of the more flexible Agile approaches? No worries we’ve got you covered. Learn the basics with 5 steps to start doing Kanban, configure your work space after reading Setting Up a Kanban Board and start adding work items with the knowledge of 5 Ways to Execute Kanban Task Cards.

Once your process is all set up and running, learn to measure the progress with two most popular Kanban reports:

Written by: Dalia Lasaite

In order to improve, every team needs to monitor and evaluate its performance.  There are two key tools for measuring performance in Kanban: the Cumulative Flow Diagram, which we covered in a previous blog post, and the Lead and Cycle Diagram. Lead and cycle diagram measures two indicators – lead and cycle times. This blog post reviews lead and cycle times and how to use them to increase team’s performance.

The image bellow shows the definition of Lead Time and Cycle Time.

 lean and cycle time

Image source: http://stefanroock.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/leadtimes3.png

This week, we continue with the Eylean how-to series by taking a closer look into how your Kanban projects should be created or moved into Eylean. Starting with a new software or a new way of managing your daily tasks can be overwhelming sometimes, therefore we will give you some pointers to make the transition as smooth as possible. However as we always point out, these are only guidelines for when you first start and you should feel encouraged to experiment and to use Eylean in a way that best suits your process and your needs.

First up, you will need to create your board. We in Eylean like to give you choices therefore you are able to copy your existing Kanban board or to use a prepared template to start anew. If you want to have a replica of your existing board, simply enter all the specifics in the settings tab – you will create an exact match. However, if you are new to Kanban or wish to start fresh, you can use the provided template Kanban board that has the basic columns all set. One important thing to remember is that you can adjust and modify your boards at any time, especially if you feel that they do not fit your requirements anymore.


Starting to implement Kanban can seem a little intimidating at first, especially if you have no previous experience with it. However, you need to remember that Kanban is all about constant improvement and change therefore all you have to do is take the first few steps and soon you will be well on your way.

The methodology does not provide us with the fool-proof way to start, however it does give us the three main principles to follow through the whole process:

  • Visualize your workflow.
  • Limit the things you work on.
  • Optimize your cycle time.

From the three principles above we can draw 5 steps to take when starting with Kanban. The first step is to get to know and understand the current processes of the company. That is the whole process from the customer’s initial request to the final product or service. You need to know what type of tasks are carried out, what steps they need to go through, who assigns responsibility, etc. This is very important in order to understand what is happening in your company at the moment and how it can be improved in the future.

If your team is using Kanban, you probably want to know how effective your team is when using this pull technique. The approaches of measuring team effectiveness in Kanban are numerous – it would probably be possible to list dozens of metrics designed to evaluate this technique. However, in order to keep it simple, we will discuss the two of the most common metrics used to evaluate Kanban performance – and will provide a few insights on what you can learn from them. These methods are Cumulative Flow Diagram as well as Lead and Cycle Diagram. The latter will be covered in another blog post.

Both of these metrics are supported at Eylean, so we will help you understand how to make the most sense of these metrics.

Cumulative flow diagram

The most common approach of measuring team performance at Kanban is Cumulative Flow Diagram or CFD. An example of Cumulative Flow Diagram is described below.

 Cumulative flow diagram


BusyFlow integrates cloud applications into one dashboard, helping teams collaborate and work together more efficiently. The company works with numerous APIs, codes in Python and has just launched their Android app. We are talking with their CEO Jaro Satkevic on their development process – and how they adjusted it to make developers happier.

Tell us about yourself. What does your company do and what is your role?

I am the CEO and co-founder of BusyFlow. Busy Flow is app that integrates different productivity and collaboration tools, like Dropbox, Trello, BaseCamp, Google Drive and other tools into one workspace where people can see the changes, act on them and collaborate together. I am a co-founder and I manage the developer team.

Are you a developer yourself?

Yes, I am. But at the moment most of the time I am doing other activities in our start-up.

Can you tell us how big is your team? How many people and how is it organised?

At the moment we have four people. We also have two more people related to our company – a designer and an iOS developer – who help us when needed. So actually it is me and three other developers in our team.

Can you tell us about your development process? How does it typically work?

Draugiem is one of the few social networks that compete with Facebook heads on – and are still winning. We are very lucky to speak today with Ingus Rūķis, their development team lead, about the way development process works at Draugiem.

Tell us about Draugiem. What does your company do and what is your role?

Draugiem is the largest social network in Latvia, we are still ahead of Facebook here. Draugiem was started in 2004 – at the same time as Facebook was started in the United States. We used to have a decent market share in Hungary as well, but we have lost that market and we are currently focusing on Latvian market only. Draugiem has around 500,000 daily active users in Latvia, and probably around 800,000 monthly active users.

I am software development team lead and I have been doing web development for seven years at Draugiem, after which I moved to this management position. I am also responsible for the social gaming part of Draugiem – talking to game developers, making contacts, and so on.

How big is your development team?

The development team is very small. We have historically kept development team under 10 people – we currently have nine developers and two system administrators plus a couple of mobile developers. It is basically the commitment of the people that has taken Draugiem so far. We also do not have separate positions of back-end developers and front-end developers, every developer is doing both front-end and back-end. The only position that is separated is the dedicated C developer, who is only doing the social graph and various other serverside services. Everyone else is multitasking.

Draugiem has been acting quite long as a startup, thus we did not have any project managers, and the team was self-organized and self-directed – the developers used to decide what they want to do and just did it. In the past couple of years, however, we have moved a bit away from the startup culture and introduced a couple of project managers who are working to direct the team.

Today we are talking to Campalyst – the social media analytics company behind the Google Analytics Twitter plugin. Campalyst team is based in Tartu, Estonia, and New York, US, and their CTO Juhan Aasaru shares a few insights into their development process. 

Tell us about yourself. What does your company do?

I am a CTO and co-founder of Campalyst. Campalyst is a 1.5-year-old startup that helps brands to sell more via social media. Companies are spending huge amounts of money for campaigns in social media with little or no clue of how much it helps them earn more. We have build the software that measures the income from social media campaigns and provides the metrics to understand what works and what does not in terms of increasing ROI.

Before founding the startup I was working as a developer and private consultant in Estonia and Ireland.

Sounds good. Can you tell us about your development team? How are you organized?

Besides me – I count myself as developer – there are other 3 full-time developers and one part-time tester. Three of us are working in our development office in Tartu, Estonia. One developer and the tester work from home and occasionally pop into the office. We are a US company and the business office is in New York.

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