Starting with Kanban

A practical workshop on Value Stream Mapping and WIP


As part of an ongoing release of all my training material following the launch of my book, I am releasing my training course "Starting with Kanban" under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. That is, you are free to share, copy, and adapt any part of this training course for your own purposes. All materials, including examples are available for download from this page.

So you’ve heard about this Kanban thing and want to know where to start, or maybe you’ve been using it for a while and you want to know where to go. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll start at the very beginning and teach you how to build a Value Stream Map and use that to define your inital Kanban and WIP limits.

If these terms don’t make sense to you, then you need to come to this workshop.

Course Features

  • Learn how to create your VSM; the commonly overlooked practice of modeling the functional steps in your business processes - anything from IT to finance
  • Track the flow of work through your VSM on your Kanban wall
  • Learn how to use your VSM, team size and process efficiency to calculate your initial WIP.
  • Learn how to embed a culture of Kaizen

If this sounds interesting, come along for a fun interactive workshop.

Course Notes

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Course Slides

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Participant Benefits

  • Value Stream Mapping (VSM): VSM is the (often overlooked) practice of defining the functional steps in common business processes and can be anything from IT to sales & marketing; it doesn’t matter. Attendees will learn how to model their business processes and create VSMs.
  • Process efficiencies: How to calculate your process efficiency, Value Add (VA) and Non-Value Add (NVA) time and why that’s important. In brief, your VA time is defined as the average time spent actively working on a task in the process, NVA is the average time spent between each process step and you can calculate your process efficiency by dividing your VA with your total time (that is VA+NVA).
  • Align your VSM to your Kanban: Track the flow of work through your VSM on your Kanban wall
  • Learn how to use your VSM, team size and process efficiency to calculate your initial WIP
  • Learn how to embed a culture of continuous improvement (Kaizen) through the use of retrospectives and common lean metrics

Who Should Attend

This course is for managers, project managers, business analysts, engineers and developers who are interested in learning about Lean techniques and how they can help improve the quality and responsiveness of their work and workflow. The material covered in this course is applicable across industries, including software development, engineering, and manufacturing.



This is intended to be a practical workshop on Kanban. If possible the room should be set up in rounds of no more than 10 people, but I can work this in a lecture theater in a pinch. The workshop will be split into 4 primary topics.

1. Introduction to VSM and Kanban

This will be a short introduction to the topic. A little history and how it made the jump from manufacturing to IT. I will show what a VSM looks like and demonstrate how teams can create them. I’ll also demonstrate how to calculate the value added (VA) time, non-value added (NVA) time and efficiency.

2. Build a VSM

Each table will model a the VSM of a given business process using large sheets of paper. The topic to model will be at the tables discretion. Some tables will create VSMs of their organisational processes. Where tables do not have or want to model their own, I will provide a number of common scenario’s for them to model. These include;

  • Defect management
  • IT Portfolio management
  • Recruitment
  • Iteration (sprint) management

3. Turn the VSM into a Kanban board with appropriate WIP limits

Following that, each table will then turn their VSM into a Kanban board and, using simple mathematics, calculate the initial WIP limits. This will be based on;

  • Calculating the process efficiency (based on the VA and NVA time)
  • Calculate your total WIP based on your team size (and agile practices such as pair programming)
  • Estimate your multitask capacity from your process efficiency
  • Proportion your WIP based on the above

4. Kaizen

Everything above is just the beginning. You are modelling the “now” state. We’ll look at how to use metrics (cycle time, lead time, statistical run charts, cumulative flow, etc) and agile retrospectives to embed a culture of continuous improvement to your processes through continuous refinement of VSM states, Kanban and WIP limits.