Introduction to Kanban

The Kanban method was originally invented as a part of the famous Toyota Production System in the 1940s. In the 2000s, Kanban was adopted into software development when Microsoft’s software development team wanted a better system for fixing bugs in their product. Today, Kanban helps teams manage both daily tasks, big projects, bug tracking, editorial workflows, hiring processes, marketing scheduling, UX design and much more. 

What Is Kanban?

Kanban_illustration

Kanban is a popular framework for managing your workflow in a visual way. The underlying concept of Kanban is that all work starts as «To-do» and ends up as «Done».

The word Kanban (かんばん) is Japanese and means «Visible card» or «Signal card». In manufacturing, a fixed number of cards was set in circulation based on capacity. Each card was then attached to a physical work item. When this piece of work was finished, the card was detached and recycled, freeing up capacity for starting a new work item from the queue. In other words, work is pulled from the queue and into the system only when there is free capacity, which is known as a pull-system.

In software development and knowledge work,  the cards are the actual work items, and they’re not used a a signal card attached to physical items. The cards are usually placed on a Kanban board, with different columns representing the different stages of the work. This lets you visualize your entire workflow. The signal to move a card from “To do” to “In progress” incurs when the visual quantity of work in progress is less than a set capacity.

Advantages of using Kanban

  1. Visual boards provides more information than just text
  2. Kanban is intuitive and easy to use
  3. Can be adapted to fit almost any process
  4. Increase productivity and reduce workload stress
  5. Improve team communication and collaboration
  6. Eliminate bottlenecks and optimize everyone’s capacity

 

How To Get Started with Kanban

5 steps - kanban

In his book, “Kanban – Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business”, David Anderson identified five key properties for a successful implementation of Kanban:

1. Visualize Your Workflow:
A workflow is a representation of the different stages in your work work from start to finish. A typical workflow is “To do”, “In progress” and “Completed”. Some people prefer to have several stages between “To do” and “Completed”, for example plan, test and deploy. This visualization helps you see the big picture, enabling better desicion-making and increased effectiveness.

2. Limit Work In Progress(WIP):
A WIP-limit is the amount of tasks you can handle at once. Start with a number that is realistic, and adjust as you go. If your WIP-limit is 3, you should never have more than 3 tasks in the “in progress”-column.  Limiting work in progress enables you to focus on the tasks at hand and increases your efficiency.

3. Manage the Flow of Work:
By flow, we mean the movement of work items between the various stages of your process. The flow should be fast, smooth and predictable. The goal is to maximize value delivery, minimize risks and avoiding delays. Identifying and addressing bottlenecks and blockers are therefore important aspects of managing flow.

4. Make Process Policies Explicit:
It’s key that there is a common understanding of how works gets done in the various stages of the process. This makes it easier to discuss issues and come to an agreement on what needs improving. Examples of policies include: the definition of done, capacity allocation and WIP-limits.

5. Improve Collaboratively:
When everyone focus on the workflow, ideas about improvement will start popping up, especially if the WIP-limit is reached. It forces the team to focus on resolving issues regarding bottlenecks and blockers that impede the flow of work.

 

Digitize your Kanban Board with an Online Tool

Product Image
Screenshot from Upwave

In our modern day world, where employees are scattered in different locations, we need digital solutions for collaboration. There are a lot of tools based on the Kanban method, that lets you create the workflow that fits your need, collaborate on cards in real-time, and drag and drop cards between columns to represent progress. One of these tools is Upwave, which lets you create beautiful Kanban boards customized with your favorite colors and background images.  Get started for free with our 14 day trial!

Blog - CTA banner pink

 

 

Get an instant overview of progress with the new Upwave dashboard and team page

We have now launched a new dashboard, which will enable all users to easily monitor how their teams and projects are progressing.

image

With the new dashboard, you get an overview of:

  • Card completion rate
  • Cards overdue
  • When boards were last updated
  • Board members
  • What team a board belongs to

 

Workspace dashboard
The dashboard will be available at the workspace level, see attached screenshot below.

New dashboard_screenshot

Team page
In addition, you will get a similar team page, where you get progress overviews at the team level. With this update, it will be easy to pick up your work and see where action may be required.

New dashboard_marketing team (1)

Navigation
The navigation has been moved to the top and made consistent throughout the platform.

New dashboard_gifRead more about navigation on our helpdesk.

What’s next
As bigger teams and enterprises are using Upwave, we are working on ways to help them monitor performance, and take action. This update is a continuation of our strategy where we want to support their needs, without sacrificing usability.

Our short term product roadmap will further build on this and includes:

  • New team calendar
  • Team reports – get portfolio overview of progress across boards in a team
  • Team analytics – graphic overview of a team’s progress and activity

 

As always, we welcome feedback and improvement suggestions!

 

Symetri Collaboration becomes a strategic investor in Upwave Technologies

The industry-leading Nordic IT supplier Symetri Collaboration has become a strategic investor in Upwave Technologies as of December 2018.

“This is very exciting for Upwave’s development. In Symetri Collaboration and their parent company Addnode Group, we have a partner who can contribute with valuable expertise in marketing and technology. We also gain access to their distribution channels in the European market”, says Kjetil Moløkken-Østvold, CEO of Upwave Technologies.

Symetri Collaboration is the market leader in Norway in delivering collaboration solutions for construction projects. Symetri has been in the market since 2001 and has extensive industry experience and knowledge, with large customers such as Veidekke, Statsbygg, Statens Vegvesen and a number of other significant actors within the private and public sector.

“With this investment, we get an exciting and strategically important technology partner in Upwave, who can help us offer even more user-friendly solutions at a faster pace. With its rapid growth, solid professional expertise and technological know-how, we are confident that this will benefit our customers. Through integration and joint product development, we will together offer the market better, more user-friendly and
comprehensive collaboration solutions”, says Steinar Svinø, CEO of Symetri Collaboration.

This investment will strengthen our technological cooperation and increase
both companies’ position in the collaboration space and we look forward to delivering new and improved solutions to our customers in 2019 and beyond.

 

Upwave Introduces Time Tracking and Estimation

You can now track time on your tasks and set time estimates directly in Upwave!

 

Manage your time with Upwave

Easily track the time you spend on a task by using the automatic timer feature inside a card or by creating manual time entries. Set time estimates to make sure you stay on track. Several people can add time entries on the same task, which makes it perfect for collaborative work.

Time Tracking

 Turn your data into insightful reports

Time is the most precious resource we have, but we still waste a great deal of it. To spend time more wisely, you need to know where your time is going. Easily generate timesheets at project-, task- or user-level. Share your reports by exporting them as PDF- or csv-files.

Time-sheet-blog.png

Start tracking and spend your time more wisely!

Sign up for a free 14-day trial at here!

Upwave announces it has joined the Google Cloud Technology Partner Program

Oslo, Norway, July 19th, 2018 — Upwave Technologies AS, producer of the project- and process management platform Upwave, today announces that it has joined the Google Cloud Technology Partner Program.

Joining the Google Cloud Technology Partner Program will allow Upwave to innovate faster, and deliver an improved and more seamless collaboration experience to their customers. Upwave is looking forward to continuing its relationship with Google Cloud, and to better serve customers who are using G Suite and Upwave in combination.

«Our relationship with Google Cloud is a big step for Upwave as it gives us the opportunity to bring a suite of capabilities to our customers in an easy and scalable way», said Kjetil Moløkken-Østvold, CEO of Upwave. «The Google Cloud Technology Partner Program gives us access to an engaged network of technology partners to learn from and create with, helping us innovate faster and scale smarter».

Contact information: Kjetil Moløkken-Østvold, CEO. kjetil@upwave.io, +47-90140187.

 

About Upwave Technologies

Upwave is a cloud-based platform for collaborating on projects, innovation processes, and daily tasks. Launched in early 2016, Upwave has customers in over 30 countries across the globe. Primary customer industries are public sector entities, non-profits, and creative consultancies.

The main philosophy behind Upwave is that we believe that you get more done with the right amount of features and less clutter. Upwave seeks to increase productivity, collaboration and employee engagement, and integrates well with other B2B SaaS products.

Upwave is based in Oslo, Norway.

Use SWOT to Identify Opportunities and Mitigate Risks

The SWOT-matrix is a strategic planning tool used to understand and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in an organization.

SWOT illustration.001.png

Strengths: Which characteristics of the business or project gives it an advantage over others?

Weaknesses: Which characteristics of the business or project places it at a disadvantage relative to others?

Opportunities: Which elements in the environment could the business or project exploit to its advantage?

Threats: Which elements in the environment could cause trouble for the business or project?

 

Why use the SWOT-matrix?

Using the SWOT-matrix has many advantages:

  • Intuitive way to map internal characteristics of your business and external elements in your environment that may affect your business
  • Lets you visualize how you can use your strenghts to exploit opportunities or reduce risks
  • Easy way to structure your brainstorming and encourage conversation in your team

 

How to Create Your SWOT-matrix in Upwave

swot-focused.png

The easiest way to utilize the SWOT-matrix is to use an online tool, like Upwave, where you can update the canvas in real-time and collaborate with your collageus. To get started with SWOT in Upwave, go to templates and choose “SWOT”. To add a card, just click inside the box where you want to add it. Try to keep the text short and concise. Use different colors for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Get started with your SWOT-matrix

Identify Customer Problems Worth Solving with Lean Canvas

Lean Canvas was created by Ash Maurya (leanstack.com) and is an adaptation of Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder. Lean Canvas is optimized for the Lean Startup methodology, and the emphasis is on finding customer problems that are worth solving.

Lean canvas_illustration
Illustration of Lean Canvas created based on the original from www.leanstack.com

The 9 building blocks in Lean Canvas are as follows:

1. Problem: What are your customer’s problems and how are they solved today?

2. Customer segments: Who are your target customers and what are their characteristics?

3. Unique value proposition: Why are you different and worth paying attention to?

4. Solution: What are the possible solutions for each problem?

5. Unfair advantage: What advantage do you have that can not be easily copied or bought?

6. Revenue streams: What are your sources of revenue?

7. Cost structure: What are your fixed and variable costs?

8. Key metrics: What are the key numbers that tell you how your business is doing?

9. Channels: What is your path to customers?

 

How to Create Your Lean Canvas in Upwave

lean-canvas-focused.png

The easiest way to utilize Lean Canvas is to use an online tool, like Upwave, where you can update the canvas in real-time with your collageus. To get started with Lean Canvas in Upwave, go to templates and choose “Lean Canvas”. To add a card, just click inside the box where you want to add it. Try to keep the text short and concise. Use colors to create links between different aspects of your business model.

Start by filling out problem (What are your customer’s problems and how are they solved today?), customer segments (Who are your target customers and what are their characteristics?) and then unique value proposition (Why are you different and worth paying attention to?). Then continue with solution (What are the possible solutions for each problem?), unfair advantage (What advantage do you have that can not be easily copied or bought?) and revenue streams (how much money are you going to make?).

Now that you’ve covered the problem, your solution, why you are different and how you’re gonna make money, it’s time to look at costs, metrics and channels. Start by filling out cost structure (What are your fixed and variable costs?) and key metrics (What are the key numbers that tell you how your business is doing?), and finish with channels (how are you going to reach your customers?). You now have a one page visualization of your business model!

Get started with your Lean Canvas

Connect Upwave to 1000+ other apps with Zapier

Upwave now integrates with Zapier, which lets you automatically create cards in Upwave whenever there’s a trigger in any of the 1000+ connected apps.

Automated connections called Zaps, are set up in minutes with no coding. You can automate your day-to-day tasks and build workflows between apps that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Each Zap has one app as the Trigger, where your information comes from and which causes one or more Actions in other apps, where your data gets sent based on your set-up.

To learn more, read our guide which explains step-by-step how to create a Zap from scratch. Or jump straight into the action and try out one of the popular premade Zaps below.

Skjermbilde 2018-06-21 kl. 12.21.23.png

Skjermbilde 2018-06-21 kl. 12.22.55.png

Skjermbilde 2018-06-21 kl. 12.26.25.png

Skjermbilde 2018-06-21 kl. 12.27.05.png

Skjermbilde 2018-06-21 kl. 12.27.29.png

To connect Upwave with thousands of other apps, including Gmail, GitHub, and Slack, head to Upwave’s Zapier integration page.

 

Visualize Your Business Model with Upwave

We are working on expanding our system templates to fit even more of your business processes, and the first one out is the Business Model Canvas!

What is the Business Model Canvas?

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management tool developed by Alexander Osterwalder (www.strategyzer.com). It helps you visualize your business model in a logical way on a single page. The canvas consists of 9 building blocks which covers the four main areas of a business; Offer, customers, infrastructure and financial viability.

BMC_colors_numbers

The 9 building blocks are as follows:

1. Customer segments: Which customer groups are you creating value for?

2. Value propositions: What value do you deliver to your customers?

3. Channels: How do you reach your target customers?

4. Customer relationships: How do you interact with your target customers?

5. Revenue streams: How much will you make?

6. Key resources: What do you need? Which resources does your value proposition require?

7. Key activities: How do you do it? Which activities does your value proposition require?

8. Key partnerships: Who will help you?

9. Cost structure: What will it cost?

 

How to use the Business Model Canvas

business-model-canvas-focused.png

The easiest way to utilize Business Model Canvas is to use an online tool, like Upwave, where you can update the canvas in real-time with your collageus. To get started with Business Model Canvas in Upwave, go to templates and choose “Business Model Canvas”. To add a card, just click inside the box where you want to add it. Try to keep the text short and concise. Use colors to create links between different aspects of your business model.

Start by filling out customer segments (which customers are you serving?) and then value propositions (which customer problems and neds are you solving?). Then continue with channels (how are you delivering value to your customers?). customer relationships (what kind of relationships do you need to establish and maintain?) and revenue streams (how much money are you going to make?).

Now that you’ve finished the customer and revenue aspect, it’s time to look at the infrastructure and costs. Start by filling out the key resources (which assets does your value proposition require?) and key activities (which activities does your value proposition require?). Continue with key partners (who will help you?) and finish with cost structure (what will it cost?). You now have a one page visualization of your business model!

Get started with your business model canvas

Upwave Introduces Productivity Bot for Hangouts Chat by G Suite

Upwave’s productivity bot for Hangouts Chat is now available! At its core is an AI that understands natural language. It is instructed not to spam users with unwanted messages.

blog_bot_social

The Upwave productivity bot for Hangouts Chat is a two-way AI bot. You can talk to it either in private or in a chat room. It will help you and your team to create, delegate, and list tasks (cards) directly inside the chat. You can also configure the bot to send you private notifications when something important occurs in Upwave that involves you. A chat-room will never get spammed with messages that don’t matter to you!

Natural language

The bot understands natural language and can sometimes follow up with a question if something is unclear. For example, a command like @Upwave create Remember to schedule meeting with Sofie tomorrow, will ask you on what board you’d like the card “Remember to schedule meeting with Sofie” to be added. “Tomorrow” will be understood as tomorrow at noon, but the bot understands a wide range of dates, for example, “tomorrow morning” or “next Tuesday”.

Another very useful feature is to ask the bot to find information. For example, you can ask the bot to list your own or a colleagues’ tasks for the upcoming week or what they did yesterday. This is perfect in scenarios like a remote status meeting.

blog_bot_what-to-do

Personal Assistant

Sending a direct message to the bot will initiate the personal assistant. The assistant will notify you privately on important events happening in Upwave. For example, it will let you know when one of your tasks is due or if someone sent you a High Five. It will never post to a chat-room where others may receive unwanted information. You can, of course, configure the assistant to stop sending specific types of notifications or turn it off altogether.

Preview of Upwave boards and cards

Linking to Upwave cards and boards naturally in a conversation has never been easier. You can ask the bot to preview a card or board for everyone to see by simply pasting in the URL.

The card will then be displayed for all in the room (or privately if you’d like) with action buttons to assign/unassign yourself or complete it.

blog_bot_card-details

Try it out

Trying out the bot is easy if you already have a G-Suite account. Head over to https://chat.google.com and find the bot by typing @Upwave in a chat room or as a Direct Message. If you do not have an Upwave account the bot will create one for you with a free 14-day trial.