How Agencies Can Use Kanban to Manage Client Work

Jun 14
Post Masthead

Are you managing an agency and are finding it hard to keep things together? Are you starting to feel overwhelmed and simply disorganized? One of the easiest ways to bring order to chaos is adopting Kanban.

According to a report from PMI Pulse of the Profession, 48% of projects aren’t finished on time, 43% of projects are not on budget, and 31% fail to meet the set goals or business intent.

Furthermore, according to a recent study by KPMG, only 31% of all agencies and organizations deliver projects that meet clients’ goals or objectives. Only 34% of agencies deliver results that satisfy the client base.

Agencies face many challenges—from dealing with multiple clients to managing quick turnaround times to overcoming changing priorities. All these challenges can be made more manageable with the power of Kanban.

In this article, we will explain how and why agencies can benefit from adopting Kanban to manage client work effectively, efficiently, and at scale.

What is Kanban?

The Kanban framework is a member of the “agile” project management methodology family. It involves visually representing work items, tasks, and activities on a board (either physical or digital), and ensuring clear, open, and real-time communication related to the work.

The benefits? No silos. No bottlenecks. No miscommunications related to who is working on what and when it’s due.i

The term “Kanban” translates to “billboard”. And today’s innovative and creative teams prioritize “visualizing work” above all else.

In today’s digital age, more and more agencies are adopting Kanban to help with managing client work and to scale.

Kanban Benefits

Now that you have a better understanding of what Kanban is, here are the top benefits:

  • Better task organization and management
  • Increased visibility
  • Clearer communication
  • Improved cycle times
  • Better predictability
  • Simplified process and workflow
  • Increased productivity and efficiency

How to Use Kanban

Kanban board

1. Visualize the work

Use a whiteboard with dry-erase markers and/or sticky notes, or a web-based, digital visual workflow board, which is great for remote teams.

Draw or create columns that represent your workflow and in a sequential manner, from left to right. Then, populate each column with the work that needs to be done and the work that is currently in progress. This easily shows the team’s current workload and the status of all work activities and tasks.

2. Optimize the flow

Most agencies see hang-ups or delays in their work when there is an insufficient number of resources available to handle all the work, or when deliverables are sent to clients for review.

Therefore, it’s helpful to have an “In Review” column to show which tasks and deliverables are held up in client review. This also helps pinpoint where the largest bottlenecks are in the process.

Teams can then problem-solve around how to move more work through the pipeline, or conduct a root-cause analysis to determine where bottlenecks occur and why.

visualizing work

3. Limit the WIP

By WIP, we mean “Work in Progress”. The primary goals of agile project management are to increase flexibility in work while also decreasing the amount of work in progress. The WIP limit is the maximum amount of work that the team can handle at any given team. This amount is different for each agency, so it’s important for agencies to experiment to figure out what this breaking looks like for their teams.

For instance, your team may have only one graphic designer. That person may end up becoming the bottleneck. If you assign only one design for him to do, he may sit idle waiting for the client’s clarifications should questions come up.

If you assign 2-3 tasks, he can bounce back between the tasks at hand and feel more productive. However, if you notice that assigning four design tasks at a time starts to make his workflow chaotic and overwhelming, then you may choose to set the WIP limit to three at a time.

As you go along, it will be easier to identify the proper WIP limits for each column in your Kanban Board.

4. Continuous Improvement (CI)

Even after implementing a visual workflow and following the Kanban framework, this doesn’t mean that everything will flow like magic all the time. The most efficient workflows and high-performing teams take the time to assess, evaluate, and optimize their processes for even greater output and to ensure that they are able to scale their agencies.

Of course, team, business, and client needs evolve and shift over time. Thus, continuous process improvement and optimization should be a regular activity.

Delivering Excellence with a Kanban Workflow Tool

Kanban is a powerful framework for creating a workflow that delivers and keeping your team members on top of it. You can accelerate your workflows further with a tried and true Kanban workflow tool like Rindle. Rindle allows you to set up a digital visual workflow board, build columns, and create task cards, all in a snap.

See Rindle in action or try it out for free.