Kanban vs Gantt webinar

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Posted by APM on 10th Sep 2014

Paul Bamforth, UK Country Manager, Projectplace, presented a webinar on 10th September addressing how Kanban boards add value to the Gantt world. The webinar can be seen below:




Questions asked during the webinar presentation Kanban vs Gantt; answers kindly provided by Paul Bamforth of Projectplace post-webinar:

Q: What do you mean by Agile pm?
A: The ability to adapt to change quickly and efficiently, if required.

Q: What tools are you using that enable you to have Gantt and Kanban linked?
A: Projectplace.

Q: Is Projectplace cloud based only?
A: Yes, Projectplace is cloud based and at a secure level of ISO 27001 with 256 bit level encryption.

Q: How do you influence an organisation’s employees to start using a system like Projectplace, rather than traditional means such as Excel?
A: The tool is very intuitive and encourages users by notifying and communicating across current systems such as Outlook as well as combining document collaboration, project management and communication tools into one easy to use platform. When customers first start to use the service will commonly run a 'implementation project' in the service and then we can collaborate with the Customers project members and encourage their adoption.

Q: How about the emerging use of Excel instead of Gantt or Kanban?
A: We are finding more organisations are happy to pick up tools such as a Kanban board as the current use of excel is clunky/cumbersome in comparison and makes collaborating more time consuming as the document needs to be shared, opened and saved over and over again whereas the Kanban board is living and breathing the real-time progress of a project.

Q: What's so hard about changing Gantt charts?
A: If I understand correctly, it is not really about changing/updating the Gantt schema as such - but working with only Gantt schema is quite a administrative task, often taken by the PM. Using Kanban boards makes it possible to engage project members in planning and reporting work in progress.

Q: Technology might be available but many organisations exist in a 19th century technology world with behaviours and culture to suit - how can such organisations move towards such agile working?
A: There are always cultural impacts and the recommendation of adopting a Kanban approach it so look to address today's processes and then slowly adapt. The ability to mix traditional (Gantt) and social (Kanban) allows such an approach.   It is possible within the same organisation to use different parts of Projectplace tools and different approaches; for some it might be just fine to use Gantt and documents while other project groups might be very keen in using boards for planning.

Q: Paul if the majority of your project team are remote can this visual process work?
A: Yes - as wherever your team is based they will be able to access the tool via a simple internet connection or mobile device and view the same up to date plan as the rest of the team.

Q: How would the Kanban board work with teams across various offices/countries?
A: If the Kanban in placed in the cloud as it is with Projectplace then this will means that you can access the platform via pc, laptop or mobile device anywhere in the known universe.

Q: Am I right saying that Kanban does provide the same information that Gantt but in a different way?
A: They are similar, but the Kanban board gives you a clear work in progress overview that can't be distilled from a Gantt chart. There are some areas that overlap but the Kanban board really allows the ability of WIP to be understood and simplifies the ability to change focus/priority.  With all work across teams transparent and teams able to self-organisation Kanban is bring a Gantt to life and ensuring its effective execution.

Q: Can both Gantt and Kanban be used to manage projects? I see Gantt being used to plan longer term and determine key targets where the Kanban could be used to manage shorter term greater detail.
A: This is exactly what Projectplace is recommending.

Q: Is this the emperor's new clothes?
A: No because the combination of Gantt/Kanban is addressing real needs and allowing projects to be delivered in an effective collaborative way. 

Q: Within Projectplace is the Gantt connected to the Kanban board so that change on either side will be reflected on the other?
A: Yes changes are reflected but only from board to activity in Gantt, not Gantt to board. E.g. if a task is completed on a board, the activity related to it will update and show completed tasks.

Q: Does Kanban fit better in a functional organisation as opposed to a PMO or project resource setup where Gantt takes precedence?
A: In a first thought yes it does, but the key here is understanding difference between the tool itself and the methodology. The tool as such can be used as planning aid for any methodology and any type of organisation and its level. Agile methodology, Kanban combined with Gantt requires different mind-set in terms of working with resources. PMO function is on a totally different level and has not much to do with a detailed level of work in Kanban.  With that in mind at Projectplace we have helped organisation's address their project needs through the use of Kanban boards but also the PMO needs through PPM support.

Q: What’s the role of the PM in Kanban?
A: Kanban is a tool rather than a methodology, there are different roles in agile development methods, in scrum for example there is a Product owner and Scrum master. You can still work with traditional PM methods using Projectplace, PM's role will be in essence unchanged, but it can be relieved from a lot of administrative work.

Q: What does project progress reporting look like using a co-existing Gantt v Kanban planning method?
A: Currently it is possible to use Project status report to communicate project current situation, problems, deliverables etc.  In early 2015 we are releasing a new function "Project Monitor" which will make project reporting easier.

Q: Is there a risk of overcommitting resources (i.e. yourself) - how do you limit your participation in numerous project to fit with your actual available time?
A: Not really, if the concept of agile planning is adapted. Detailed planning is done with all resources involved. Resources are actively engaged in the planning, every task will have one person responsible for it and this person will commit to the deadline.  The key to success is getting teams to self-organise at the day level but ensure at the project level there is sufficient resource/capacity.

Q: You don't need Kanban for a project room, why do you link the two?
A: Kanban is a tool for planning and it’s an important part of the project room. Project room contains essential tools for project execution; high level planning - Gantt, detailed planning - boards, knowledge sharing and collaboration - conversations, documentation - documents, meeting management - meetings, taking care of problems and issues - Issues.

Q: I understand the emphasis on linking the Kanban and Gantt. There may be software applications to do this... but is there a theoretical framework for this to adopt before we go to software application? As I believe there could be many packages...
A: The framework as such depends on the project methodology and the type of project i.e.  the more complex the project the more look ahead planning (Gantt) that is needed remembering all projects, irrespective of size, require a master plan (milestones) and action planning(To do lists/Kanban). The concept is that a traditional projects model can be used together with Gantt schema. To provide a better degree of agility the most detailed level of a plan is best served as activities on a Kanban board.  

Q: Is there a risk of overcommitting resources (i.e. yourself) - how do you limit your participation in numerous project to fit with your actual available time?
A: Not really, if the concept of agile planning is adapted. Detailed planning is done with all resources involved. Resources are actively engaged in the planning, every task will have one person responsible for it and this person will commit to the deadline.  The key to success is getting teams to self-organise at the day level but ensure at the project level there is sufficient resource/capacity.

Q: How do you manage accountability and delivery risk using self-organising teams?
A: Risk management can be defined on the overall level and addressed during planning meetings, cards representing risks are can be associated to "risk activities" for better overview. Accountability for tasks is part of the concept of the agile planning. Every project member takes active part in defining and planning activities necessary to achieve given goals. Accountability and responsibility for a task completion would on the person assigned (often self-assigned to a task), accountability for a task itself - definition and planning is on the product owner.

Q: How would a Kanban show which tasks are running behind/ late?
A: The transparency of the Kanban board will make this apparent anyway, but you can also filter from your dashboard overdue tasks etc.  Also cards can be assigned due dates and reminder email will be sent to the card owner.

Q: Can you produce project highlight/status reports from the software?
A: Yes, the tool has the ability to create "one-click" reports for maximum time saving.

Q: Would you continue to monitor project performance such as SPI and CPI using a Gantt?
A: No, not in the Project room, but there we can offer a solution of Projectplace Extended, where more sophisticated project performance tracking is possible.

Q: How do you manage the dependencies between deliverables?
A: Dependencies in the Gantt are indicative, it is up to the project groups to solve/monitor dependencies with every period planning meeting.

Q: Could you please explain how Kanban deals with dependencies between tasks? Do you revert back to a Gantt for this?
A: Dependencies are driven through the Gantt chart not the Kanban board.

Q: How does a Kanban manage dependencies?
A: Dependencies are driven through the Gantt chart not the Kanban board.

Q: How do you show dependencies?
A: Through the agile Gantt.

Q: Can you expand on the concept of Agile Gantt e.g. how WIP items not completed at the end of an iteration feedback into the plan?
A: It depends on the level of planning in Gantt, but assuming that Gantt schema is defined on the high/overall level cards not completed during an activity should be moved/re-planed to the next period's board and associated to a next planned activity in the Gantt.

Q: Fantastic collaboration platform. Is it a software pack, possible to be synchronised with MS Project?
A: You can import your MSP plan directly into Projectplace and bring the Gantt alive with boards.

Q: Can you import Gantt charts in to PP and then use the software to detail out tasks using Kanban boards?
A: Yes you can. You can import MSP plans and then flesh them out with Kanban and even bring the plan to life in our Agile -Gantt.

Q: Our organisation uses MS (SharePoint, Project etc.) I can see Kanban being better than SharePoint, but what do you feel the key benefits are of Kanban over MS SharePoint/Project?
A: Sharepoint is a document management system whereas the Kanban boards are more intuitive and easy to use - they allow transparency of tasks, collaboration of documents, rapid fire task scheduling and gives the project manager a clear overview of their teams progress and work flow. It also provides an environment which empowers and motivates project members to take active part in the project.

Q: Integration with Sharepoint?

A: You can create a protected folder with a direct link to your Sharepoint environment as the Projectplace environment has API's to integrate with external systems.

Q: Is Kanban the solution or a combination of Gantt and Kanban perhaps others each project on merit and complexity?
A: It is dependent on the complexity of the project. For a simple project, Kanban will suffice on its own.

Q: Are there other tools apart from Projectplace that you'd recommend?
A: Whilst obviously there are other tools on the market they generally address one, or at most two, parts of the three elements (information management, project management and communication).

Q: For a PMO how would the Kanban provide an overview of the programme?
A: There are ways to do this via the Kanban, please contact us for further details.

Q: Is it possible to have a demo version for evaluation?
A: Yes, please contact us for more information.

Q: Is there a "reporting" capability in the software?
A: Yes, happy to show this in a demo. Please contact us for more info.

Q: Is there a webinar scheduled that gives an overview of the Projectplace service?
A: There are webinars running on set days accessible via our website (see here) or get in touch and we can arrange a 1-2-1 session online.

Q: Does Kanban allow storing project information with restricted authorities?
A: Projectplace boards can be set up with a restricted access for define user groups.

Q: Great looking tool, but isn’t there a risk with social sharing that people spend too much time reading and reacting to other peoples tasks rather than their own?
A: Whilst there may be a risk all activity is transparent and the feeling of belonging to a project, understanding your role etc. means such a risk is outweighed by the benefit of the increased productivity.

Q: How would Kanban link back to a roadmap for a product / division / organisation?
A: A Kanban would be used to manage sprints and a link to product backlog within a PD environment.

Q: Would Kanban boards be set up differently for IT Scrum boards to general to do task?
A: A Kanban board can be used to support all processes remembering it is configurable with the minimum/mandatory columns being - planned, working on and done.  

Q: Do you have any NHS customers?
A: Yes we currently work with Manchester, west Hertfordshire and Horsham NHS to name a few. We also work with a handful of cogs.

Q: If you have a decent Gantt that everyone can see and buy into, why would you need Kanban board?
A: I agree that the Gantt has an important role and in particular for more complex project but there are many 'simpler project' that fitting them into a Gantt is not the best approach i.e. a set a milestone and a set of 'to do's does not necessity a linked bar chart/Gantt.

Q: So in theory is it right to say that you are managing the WBS through the Kanban board?
A: Not really, the WBS is providing the structure and good overview over the project schema. Boards are aligned with the activities in Gantt, cards are the lowest level of the work planned in project. Progress of work i.e. done /not done is visible in the Gantt's activities (tasks).

Q: How is agile product delivery (IT) different to Agile PM in construction?
A: It depends, IT projects include project members in every detail task definition and planning, which is not always the case in the construction projects. - But in practise that shouldn't be any difference.

Q: As project delivery success is predominantly by behaviour, irrespective of Waterfall or Agile, Kanban approach, the risk of success or failure could still be the same?
A: Not really, if the success of delivery is predominantly by behaviour, following the agile approach project members are more engaged and committed to the project and tasks. Additional benefit is a wise usage of the collaboration tool, enabling positive reinforcement of individuals in the project. Example: a like feature in Projectplace's conversations tool is one of several features to stimulate project commitment through positive reinforcement.

Q: What is the pricing mechanism for using Projectplace SaaS? Can it be used to replace business Information systems of work and central storage?
A: Storage of documents, yes. Knowledge sharing and corporate communication can be solved with Projectplace as well.  For any commercial information please contact us directly.

Q: Is there an academic subscription rate?
A: Not a specific rate but for any commercial discussions please contact us directly.

Q: How much is the Projectplace Saas?
A: Please contact us directly for any commercial questions.

Q: Is it a subscription service for companies or project by project basis?
A: Both are available please contact us directly for more information.

Q: For how long is it in the market place, being used?
A: Projectplace has been in the market for 16 years. We started in 1998.


For those unable to view the full webinar recording (due to security restrictions, etc) please find the presentation slides below:

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