Manual visual board to improve measurement

In this post I describe a perspective of visual board when it’s used with an automated ticketing system. In current project which I facilitate its Kanban implementation I introduced a practice of process review. During which we found gaps between the board and the ticketing system, for a given card we can have:

– Visual board is correct state while ticketing system is wrong: This was the case for the majority of cards having inconsistency issues. This is rather easy to fix by agreeing and communicating instructions with team on the mapping rules between the states of the Kanban board and those of the ticketing system.
– Both states in the visual board and ticketing system are incorrect: This was failure in the process implementation and would require that we may change our mind on the implementation approach.
– Visual board is incorrect and ticketing is correct: This was very rare and in fact we didn’t encounter this situation.

Discontinuing the visual board and use electronic tool on top of the ticketing system can lead to drop in the Kanban process implementation. The visual board allowed:
– Collaboration among all team members to discover issues which otherwise could not have been found if we use electronic solution alone.
– The manual board can act as data validation process,which is often a missed step of a measurement system. Data captured in the ticketing system is validated against manual board which creates improvement opportunities for the whole process.
– Increased degree of transparency between what actually takes place and what is being reported.
– As corollary of previous point, the implementation of  the visual board has raised the morale level of team members and improved trust.
– Produced accurate data to top management for deriving the overall process improvement.

The ticketing system is not the process; instead it’s a tracking system to help in implementing the process. The real process is what happens at the visual board, and by implementing the agreed on mechanics of engagement among team members. We can’t rely on the data of the ticketing system if the manual implementation of the process is unclear. The data is reflection to a process and in the absence of the process the data can be misleading.

Having a manual board for 2 months period or so before introducing a tool on top of the ticketing system is my preferred approach. This will allow the process to be substantiated among team members and to produce meaningful data from ticketing system.

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