Kanban Guide

Glossary of Kanban Project Management Terms


A backlog is a list of tasks or work items to be completed by the Kanban team. However, depending on their value to end-users, not all backlog items are moved to the Kanban board and executed by the team.
A blocker is anything that obstructs the Kanban team from completing a task or delivering a product. Similar to an impediment in Scrum, a blocker stops the team from doing any more work.
Blocker Clustering
Blocker clustering is a Kanban technique to identify, batch, and mitigate similar, recurring blockers in a workflow or system to increase throughput and reduce cycle time.
A Kanban board displays workflows and systems from start to finish, helping to visualize and communicate progress and improve efficiency. There are three main columns on a Kanban board: To Do (or Planned), Doing (or In Progress), and Done (or Complete).


Cards represent the smallest unit of work on a Kanban board. They are placed in and moved into different columns to show their current work status, e.g., To Do, Doing, or Done.
Certified Kanban
Certified Kanban practitioners ensure a strong foundation and constant improvement of Kanban practices in a Kanban team.
Conwip is short for constant work-in-progress. It is a Lean methodology for implementing a pull system in Kanban by using a global set of cards to control the total work-in-progress limit (WIP limit) in a system.
Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD)
A cumulative flow diagram shows the total count of items in a Kanban column for the preceding 30 weeks. It gives an idea of the amount of work-in-progress and lead time.
Cycle Time
Cycle time measures how long it takes for a work item to move from the Doing work stage to Done. It is the amount of time between starting work on a task and finishing.


Daily Kanban
Daily Kanban is a daily meeting to communicate new information generated during the previous day's work and monitor lead and cycle time and work-in-progress (WIP).


Feedback Loop
A feedback loop is a process or event implemented by a Kanban team to drive continuous improvement in Kanban practices and operations.


Kanban is an Agile framework and project management approach using visual cues to plan, organize and communicate work-in-progress in a system.
Kanban Cadence
Kanban cadence refers to the recurring, scheduled meetings that drive flow and change within a business process to achieve efficient service delivery. They are a series of meetings to streamline work and collaboration in a Kanban team.
Kanban Product Owner
Kanban does not have a designated product owner position. Instead, its main roles are Service Request Manager (SRM) and Service Delivery Manager (SDM). However, Kanban teams can create specialized roles to accommodate unique business processes.
Kanban Productivity System
Kanban productivity system refers to the start-to-finish workflow and processes a Kanban team uses. This could be a digital or physical Kanban board used to manage a team's work and the Kanban cadences they follow.
Kanban SAFe
Kanban SAFe, or SAFeban, is Kanban applied in a Scaled Agile Framework environment. Kanban SAFe facilitates learning cycles to achieve efficient and successful service delivery in large organizations or teams.
Kanban Service Delivery Manager
A Kanban Service Delivery Manager (SDM) is responsible for improving workflow efficiency. Also called the flow manager, the SDM facilitates Kanban cadences and ensures all processes work towards delivering customer satisfaction.
Kanban Software
Kanban software helps to apply the principles and practices of Kanban. They provide Kanban boards with columns for different work stages, performance data from ongoing and completed projects, and many more useful functionalities for Kanban teams to manage their work.
Kanban Ticket System
A Kanban ticket system provides capabilities for Kanban teams to track and manage tickets effectively and reduce response time by categorizing tickets into swimlanes and columns to refine the backlog and adapt continuously.
Kanplan is a hybrid Agile approach combining features from Kanban and Scrum. Kanplan is ideal for teams who want the ability to groom backlogs and work iteratively, but not in time-based sprints.


Lean Kanban
Lean Kanban is a project management methodology with an iterative approach to work and significant amounts of flexibility. It integrates Kanban visualization methods with Lean principles, creating a visual, incremental change process management system.
Little's Law
Little's Law is a guideline governing flow theory. Little's Law states that the more tasks a team works on at any given time, the longer it will take to finish those tasks. Hence, if a team's cycle time is long, it is advisable to reduce work-in-progress (WIP).


Maturity Model
Kanban maturity model is a tool providing guidance to enhance productivity in a Kanban team. A maturity model helps to assess current team effectiveness and close performance gaps to increase efficient service delivery.


Kanban retrospective is an event in which a Kanban team reviews completed work, measuring performance against customer-focused metrics. Kanban retrospectives are organized to solve problems and identify areas for improvement in the workflow process.


Scaled Kanban
Scaled Kanban simply means applying Kanban principles across multiple connected teams and layers in an organization. It's a way of expanding Kanban practices to deliver value in a large organization.
Six Sigma
Six Sigma is a set of statistical techniques to improve business processes and deliver quality output by reducing the probability of errors or defects. It is a process improvement method that improves overall quality by identifying and removing the causes of errors and defects in a business process.
Swimlanes are horizontal lines on a Kanban board used to organize similar tasks and separate different types of work. Swimlanes help to visually organize different work types on a Kanban board.
Scrumban is a hybrid Agile approach combining features from Scrum and Kanban. It is ideal for teams transitioning from Scrum to Kanban.


Throughput is the delivery rate of work items to the endpoint in a workflow. It is calculated by the number of work items completed per period.
To Do
The To Do column on a Kanban board holds all work items that are ready to start. This column forms the actual to-do list for a Kanban team. Once started, work items on this list should be moved to the Doing column.


Upstream Kanban
Upstream Kanban manages incoming requests before committing them for execution on the Kanban board. It is everything a Kanban team must do before starting working on a task. Upstream Kanban provides a continuous flow of validated work items a team can pull without additional delays.


Value Stream Mapping
Value stream mapping is a visual representation of work to maximize available resources and how they're used. Value stream mapping helps to spot bottlenecks, identify waste, and discover areas for improvement.


Work In Progress (WIP)
Work-in-progress (WIP) is work that has been started but isn't done or completed. All work-in-progress in Kanban is regulated by the work-in-progress limit (WIP limit).
Work In Progress Limit (WIP Limit):
Work in progress limit is a constraint applied to one or more work stages on a Kanban board to manage team capacity and prevent blockers that hinder the continuous flow of work. New tasks can only be pulled into a new work stage when the total number of work items in that stage is lower than the WIP limit.