Sunday, 6 January 2013

What’s the difference between the Backlog Board and the Kanban Board?

As you know, in one of the latest Team Foundation Service deployments (I recall it, the team works on a three-weeks-long sprint) and soon to be in the Quarterly Update 1 for Team Foundation Server, there has been a nice new feature: the Kanban Board.

Kanban is a process based on the boundaries imposed by the work-in-progress limits. Everything is in a queue, with defined states (eg. Development Ready, Test Ready, Release Ready, etc.), and the to-do jobs are governed by the capacity of the team. Ideally, this is the best way for ‘just in time’ production

It has a fairly interesting history, as it’s been created by a Japanese man watching american stocking habits in supermarkets. More on Wikipedia.

Kanban forces the team to rely on their self-control, continuously adjusting their queue based on the work they can do. Using it together with Scrum – for instance, inside the sprints – makes software development like a Swiss clock. That is my opinion, of course Smile

How does that fit in Team Foundation Service? The Kanban Board is the main tool for adopting Kanban: it’s visual, and effective.

In our case, it doesn’t affect the existing Backlog Board, they are complementary! Here’s what I mean:


This is a sample Backlog Board: I can see on the left my PBIs, with the inner tasks composing it, and their status.

Here is the correspondent Kanban Board on the same project:


I can just see the User Stories, and not the linked Work Items. And as I am the only project member, I entered 1 as the maximum WIP load. So I can understand just looking at it that I am overcommitted.

So the Backlog Board can be used to understand a finer grain load, at a task level, for my team. The Kanban Board is a useful tool for a project level inspection. They are two different tool but they might be used together Smile

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