We have to credit the Japanese for coming up with a scheduling system that, among other functions, can increase productivity and minimize waste in a manufacturing environment. Kanban improves manufacturing efficiency and the system takes its name from the cards that track production within a factory. In any of its manifestations, Kanban cards and boards have proven to be valuable tools in many production industries.
Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer and businessman who is well-known as the father of the Toyota Production System, holds the credit with introducing the Kanban Cards system. The main purpose of this system is to manage the flow of parts in JIT or “just-in-time” production lines.
The term “Kanban” is a Japanese term derived from “kan” and “ban,” meaning visual and card respectively. Taken together, kanban roughly translates to mean “card you can see.” Ohno got his inspiration for developing Kanban card templates for the system when he noticed that the store shelves in a grocery store only had enough stocks to meet customer demand.
Also, the store’s inventory only got replenished if there were empty spots on the shelves. From this observation, Ohno came up with the idea of creating visual markers that could lessen unnecessary inventories. The system also helps discover and workflow process issues. These visual markers are the Kanban cards and because of their practicality, are still used today.
The Kanban sheets and cards have a system that’s highly visual in nature. This makes it easier for teams in a company to communicate better regarding what work they need to do and when. As the Kanban evolved into a knowledge work system, the Kanban cards became representative of a separate work item.
There are no complicated processes involved with the use of Kanban cards and Kanban sheets. The most common way to display the “pieces of work” is by using sticky notes on a whiteboard with lanes to illustrate the steps the team needs to take in the process.
These simple notes contain vital information for each piece of work. The placement of the notes on the whiteboard defines the status of the work item visually within the process of the team. From this simple routine came the modern use of Kanban cards.
In designing the concept of Kanban cards, Ohno took into consideration the psychological and emotional aspects of change. To do this, Ohno formulated a set of guardrails that will guide actions to clarify what’s required to make the system effective and to empower those who contribute to it.
These guardrails are highly effective and are now part of the general practices and basic principles. These principles describe how and what you must think to become successful in managing for efficiency:
The main purpose of Kanban cards is to visually convey a work item’s progress as it flows through a system or a process. To understand this better, you must know the most important characteristics of a Kanban card template. Here are some details of the card to help guide you as you create your own Kanban Excel template:
Face or Front
Since the main purpose of the card is a quick view of the work items’ visual status, the face or front should present details meaningful to your team and this information includes:
The information should fit on the front of the Kanban card template.
As the card moves across the workflow, any of the team members can utilize the back of the template to write down applicable metrics including:
In a way, the card ultimately provides significant information about the overall workflow. With the card, you can understand not only the workflow of the system but also identify bottleneck any issues before they can have a significant impact on the system.
The information on the card also gives you an opportunity for continuous improvement. The accuracy of recording metrics makes the team realize the value of the Kanban system.
For a Kanban system to work with maximum results towards a certain goal, there are some practices which describe the things you must do:
By using the same general principles and practices, you can also apply the Kanban system in many business departments including:
But for the Kanban system to succeed, the team must get deeply involved. Every member of the team should handle their assigned tasks within the established standards and follow the rules before turning over the task to the next team or individual. Furthermore, each member should keep the Kanban information updated and make this easily accessible to everyone
There are two ways to make a Kanban card template, you have the physical Kanban Excel template and the digital version. Many today prefer the virtual Kanban card template because of the features it has to offer. But keep in mind that either one can serve the same purpose.
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