Saturday, November 06, 2010

Lean concepts for the operations management - part 5 – HR KANBAN Board

Let’s talk about the HR KANBAN board. I explained the user stories which will go to the stack in my previous post.

We all met on the 1st day, in front of the HR office glass wall. We divided the wall in to 3 main columns as follows;


( Where we put whatever comes out as user stories related to our HR

To do

( The most prioritized stories)


(What we are working on)


(The completed ones)

We made the following format for each of the sticky we use..

Here you can see some of us getting the stack prepared..

We pasted all the prepared user stories in the stack. Now we go to do the following

Prioritize them

Prioritization is important, due to 2 things.. There can be very important user stories but still we could wait some time before we act on them. As an example, we have decided to create a new appraisal process for employees which will support agile team concepts in the organization. That’s a very important user story, but still we can have some lead time to start it due to the current process in place for this year. Let’s look at another user story; issuing the new version of “onsite travel guide” to the staff was a very high priority story as we had some upcoming onsite visits planned in some projects. So we managed to prioritize the stories based on the urgency as well as the importance of them.

Here we go prioritizing them...

2. Split them as smaller stories if they are too big to move.

This was a challenge. Can you imagine that.. ? Look at the previous user story I explained.. If we say “we need a new appraisal process which supports agile team concepts” that’s a very big user story..It will be harder to move the user story across the board. So its needed to decompose it in to a smaller level stories at the time of moving to “To Do”

If you look at the tasks under this appraisal user story, you can make few more sticky notes such as;

1. Review the existing appraisal process so that we can have a good idea about how people are appraised currently.

2. Discuss with the staff and find the areas where they like to be changed so that we can get good insights from stakeholders who will be appraised by the process

3. HR manager needs to talk with the Project organization so that she can understand the gap between the current process and the new process requirements.

Likewise.. We faced some big user stories which had to be decomposed.. and some smaller user stories which doesn’t need to be decomposed.

3. To do and WIP

How do we do that? Interesting.. initially we tried to limit the To do to 10 and WIP to 6. Any logic in that? NO.. We wanted to avoid committing to too many things which we cannot deliver but still to have sufficient amount of work and urgent work needed to get going.. But still .. we have not mastered the limiting skills J I will observe this further.. (Inspect and adapt ;-) )

4. Understand that there are tasks which will not be in the KANBAN board

due to 2 reasons;

1. Those tasks are way too small and routine.. so you anyway attend to them

It’s important to understand where we will draw the line for the KANBAN board otherwise you may flood it with all the smaller things you have to do during the day.. the purpose of us is not that.

2. When it comes to HR. In reality, there will be few tasks where visibility of them will be challenging even at management level.

Initially I explained one of the major challenges in our operations is that as its recognized as internal work.Unlike in projects, some of the initiatives never get completed due to other prioritized commitments … or drag too long..I think thats a common problem in any organization. But now.. all these stories are so visible..what we need is to measure the cycle time..

In my next post I will explain the challenges, benefits and other observations we had of our KANBAN board when we were proceeding daily..



Lean concepts for the operations management - part 1 – How did it start?

Lean concepts for the operations management - part 2 – Why not scrum..?

Lean concepts for the operations management - part 3 – Looking at KANBAN..

Lean concepts for the operations management - part 4 – How did we implement it ?


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