Take your Old Waterfall Method and Set the Dial to “Agile” with Kanban

Are you trying to make a seamless transition from waterfall to agile in your organization? Kanban might be the best fit for its ability to incorporate agility into your process without turning it upside down. Kanban is similar to Waterfall in that a user story is developed, code is written against the story, the code is tested and then it goes out to production. But the big difference is that Kanban breaks this process into very specific phases tracked on a feature level rather than a release level. By focusing on only one user story at a time, taking its production step-by-step, you can increase the rate at which you complete each project and increase your success rates.

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Kanban phases can be as simple as: To-Do, Doing, Done.

For large scale efforts, the phase can be as detailed as:

  1. Inbox—Received user story from a customer, sales representative, etc.
  2. Specifications in progress—This takes the user story and writes acceptance criteria or further defines the story
  3. Specifications done – Acknowledging that the specification has been completely written
  4. Development in progress – Beginning code creation against the user story
  5. Development done – Agreement that the code needed to complete the user story is completed
  6. Code review in progress – Code begins the process of being reviewed/checked by the team
  7. Code review done – Code has passed the team’s approval
  8. Development testing (local testing) – Code is being tested in a sandbox-like environment
  9. Testing on pre-production in progress – Code is being tested in more production – like environment
  10. Pre-production testing done – Code has passed testing in the more production-like environment
  11. Ready for deployment – Code is staged in a build that is ready to be deployed
  12. Deploy – Code has been deployed

The simplicity or complexity of the phases in a Kanban process are driven by how many user stories are currently under development, and the overall scope and size of the production team. hen producing a large number of user stories, it is almost always faster and more efficient to produce and test each story individually through Kanban where possible, rather than to produce all stories at once and try to test the entire development effort in one, massive push. Kanban drives visibility into production and helps to identify bottlenecks in the process, because there is more visibility into each phase of the process, as well as the contribution of each item to overall progress. This visibility enables you to quickly identify which steps in your process are hurting efficiency, giving you the tools to drive greater agility and throughput.

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