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Kanban and working on more than one team?

 
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I got a great question from Burk XXX:
Marcus,
Thank you for the jump start. I'm wondering though about the practicality of kanban for people who are working on more than one team.

From what I've read, it seems the general scenarios is that there's one board for a project and everyone involved is focused on the project. How does that work for someone who's on two or three projects as far as limiting WiP goes?

Thanks,
Burk Hufnagel
 
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Marcus,
I'm glad you liked the question - and I've got more. I'll post them to different threads though, to help keep things straight.

Thanks,
Burk
 
Marcus Hammarberg
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Hello again Burk,

Now let me answer that question of yours:

It can sure be tricky to work on more than one team since that means double (or more) reporting, double things to hold in your head and people in two teams depending on you and your progress.

Sadly kanban doesn't solve that for you... but rather shows you that this is a problem. Typically we create a board per team so that person (is that you Burk? ) will have to attend and watch both the teams boards. That in turn will make the work items that you work on move slower than for people that work full time on the project. Other people will have to wait for you to complete your item before it can be moved into the next stage of the board etc.

Now to the good part; kanban (or rather visualization) will show this to you and everyone else in the team(s). This will give you something to talk about and from that you might come up with solutions around this problem. Maybe you do full weeks on each team, maybe it's better that you take ownership of one of the work items and then follow it until it's completed. You can probably come up with better suggestions.

Finally; a lot of teams that I know split their board, horizontally into two or more swim lanes. One for each project, or team even. Then you can track the work for more than one group on the same board. This would help you track YOUR work across more than one team, as you avatar (if you use them) would be found in both projects, both swim lanes.
 
Burk Hufnagel
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Thanks, Marcus.

Yep, I'm the guy on multiple teams. I'm a solution architect for multiple projects. The good news is that I'm mostly involved near the beginning and end of projects but not so much in the middle. The downside is that, since I'm not busy during the entire time, I work on multiple projects part time.

The teams I'm on don't currently use kanban, but it sounded interesting to me, so I set up my own board. Unfortunately, it had to combine the tasks I do for several teams, and I didn't think about setting up a swim lane for each team, so things got messy pretty quickly.

I can see how it might have been better if the teams had their own board and I was simple updating them. I don't think it wouldn't be much more effort than attending the daily status meetings.

Thanks for the idea of using swim lanes - I may give it another try,
Burk
 
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