WIP Limits: How to Journey Safely Into the Unknown (Part 2 of 3)

It sounds counter-intuitive, but limiting your work in process (WIP) actually improves your flow -- and your team’s productivity. In this three-part series, Stephen Franklin, CIO at LeanKit, draws from experience to explain the common obstacles you'll face when setting WIP limits, and tips for overcoming them. 
In part one of this blog series, I discussed why limiting the amount of work you have in process can be so inherently difficult. Now that you’re aware of the mindset needed to implement work-in-process (WIP) limits successfully, it’s time to venture a little further into the unknown.
There are three different perspectives to consider when managing WIP limits: personal, team and organizational. A common mistake is to assume that the same approach for managing WIP limits will be effective at each of those levels. Take it from me that it won’t. In this post, I’ll share some of the observations, ideas and lessons that I’ve learned about managing WIP limits at the team (execution) level and at the organizational (structural) level.

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WIP Limits: How to Journey Safely Into the Unknown (Part 1 of 3)

Journey around a mountain

It sounds counter-intuitive, but limiting your work in process (WIP) actually improves your flow -- and your team’s productivity. In this three-part series, Stephen Franklin, CIO at LeanKit, draws from experience to explain the common obstacles you'll face when setting WIP limits, and tips for overcoming them. 

Missed deadlines, constant task switching and inefficient handoffs are just a few of the consequences of having too much work in process (WIP). Throughout my career in the IT field, I've witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of juggling too many balls at once, whether at the personal, team or organizational level. I've seen tidal waves of WIP completely submerge entire organizations. I've also seen how effective it can be when teams and organizations apply WIP limits and become hyper-productive by laser focusing their attention on only the work that matters most.

Introducing WIP limits isn't easy and can feel like a journey into the unknown. You need to be prepared for what lies ahead, resist the temptation to turn back and stay focused on reaching your destination. With perseverance comes significant improvements. This three-part blog series will serve as your guide.

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LeanKit Kanban Outage Retrospective

LeanKit Kanban Outage Report
Thursday March 22nd
8:00 AM CDT - 5:45PM CDT (GMT-5)

Background:
An outage of LeanKit Kanban on March 22nd resulted in approximately 9.5 hours of unscheduled downtime for our customers. For many of our customers, this occurred during peak business hours and caused hardships and difficulties far beyond what is acceptable from our point of view. At this point, we can offer apologies and assurances that we are taking corrective actions to prevent this type of outage from ever happening again.

What Caused the Outage:
At approximately 8:00 AM CDT (GMT-5), the hosting provider that we selected to host our infrastructure mistakenly reallocated the IP addresses for our private subnet. After that point, no network traffic was able to reach any of our infrastructure. This resulted in a complete loss of access to our systems and therefore limited the amount of diagnostic activity that we could perform. We immediately contacted our hosting provider and sent them all the troubleshooting information that we we able to compile. Our provider performed their diagnostic and corrective actions including the replacement major networking components. Unfortunately, despite numerous diagnostic attempts, they were unable to discover the root cause of the issue until late in the afternoon. After discovery of the problem, the issue was resolved quickly and our system connectivity was re-established.

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Preview LeanKit’s Analytical Tool Improvements

We are very excited about the new analytical capabilities that will soon be released within LeanKit Kanban.  We hope these tools can provide your organization with valuable insight into the effectiveness and throughput of your system, as well as helping you recognize and exploit the constraints or bottlenecks within your system.  We feel that these tools complement the other capabilities being released in the next version of LeanKit Kanban.  These analytical tools are but the tip of the iceberg in regards to the tools that we plan to offer to help your organization achieve the highest level of value from your Kanban methodologies and practices.  Take a quick look at this overview of some of the capabilities offered in the upcoming release.  The video is a little rough and uses an unpolished version of the UI but hopefully demonstrates the capabilities that will soon be available.

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