Work that hasn’t been deployed, shipped, or otherwise delivered to a customer has no real value. Value is only realized when the work is available for use by the customer. The naive assumption is that the more work in progress there is, the more work will get to ‘Done’. Yet evidence is to the contrary. More work in progress results in less work done. (See The Impact of Agile Quantified for more).
The use of a Kanban board is a simple way to help limit Work in Progress by having a column that visually displays the work that exists in that state, and setting a maximum limit of the quantity. The idea is that we shouldn’t start new work before the existing work gets to done. Once a column has a WIP limit and the column fills up, then we’re forced to move downstream to help get the most downstream work to truly done.
Over time, teams often reduce their WIP limit to improve flow. Each reduction will challenge the team to cross-skill and collaborate more.
Scrum by Example – The Story of an Incomplete Sprint
- How to Set WIP Limits on Your Columns When You’re Just Getting Started
- Limiting Work in Progress (WIP) in Kanban
- Scrum With Kanban WIP Limits
- Why you should limit work in progress and stop multitasking
- WIP Limit Definition
Mark Levison has been helping Scrum teams and organizations with Agile, Scrum and Kanban style approaches since 2001. From certified scrum master training to custom Agile courses, he has helped well over 8,000 individuals, earning him respect and top rated reviews as one of the pioneers within the industry, as well as a raft of certifications from the ScrumAlliance. Mark has been a speaker at various Agile Conferences for more than 20 years, and is a published Scrum author with eBooks as well as articles on InfoQ.com, ScrumAlliance.org an AgileAlliance.org.
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