Most of the electronic Kanban boards that exist simply don’t understand what WIP limits are really about. They all seem to go down the path of forcing any step (column) in the process to have a maximum limit that is very hard and fast. They set it up so that you cannot add any more items to the step than the limit allows. But the truth about WIP limits is that they are not supposed to be hard and fast, mechanical limits. Putting in a hard limit like this is a great way to destroy the productivity of a team and usefulness of a tool when the team finds themselves in a crunch, in a situation with additional resources and needs, or any of a number of other circumstances.
I know I haven’t been vocal about this online, but it’s something I’ve been complaining about to my coworkers and friends for a while. It bugs me and is one of the major reasons that I’ve stayed away from the major (free) players in the electronic Kanban realm, other than trials and basic testing of the systems.
But then I got an email from Chris Hefley this morning, about some new features in LeanKitKanban. When I logged in to check them out, I was surprised to see this happen when I tried to exceed a column limit:
I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this! Finally, one of the tools vendors in this space is really starting to get it! For this, and a few other reasons that I don’t want to talk about yet, LeanKitKanban is now officially my favorite electronic Kanban / task board around. If you haven’t done so, I highly recommend that you check them out.
Do any other electronic Kanban boards are heading down this same path and allowing for limit overrides? If your current tool doesn’t support this, it should.
Update: Looks like AgileZen is getting this feature in the next release (see Nate’s comments below). that’s great news! I’ve been impressed by this tool as well. the support for soft WIP limits in multiple tools is starting to show some real competition and innovation in the market space. that’s good news for everyone!