What our previous workflow was like
On the Requirements board, there are five columns: To do, In progress, Validation, Client Acceptance, Done.
Tasks stayed in the review stage for a long time, which was frustrating
- Let's say we could spend 10 working days on developing a page interface. However, later in the column where the client approves it, this task would sit for 20–30 days or even longer. While the other columns cleared quickly, tasks accumulated here. Heads of departments noticed this and raised questions. Clearly, something wasn't right.
Across all boards—the project board and the workshop boards—we witnessed a backlog of tasks
We changed the workflow to prevent tasks from slipping through the cracks
All iterations of edits are now placed within separate lanes—swimlanes
For instance, when the client mentions that the task is generally fine but has a couple of comments, we agree to address the first iteration of these comments, and the task is moved to the To do column of a new swimlane. Previously, the task would have remained in the Client Acceptance column. As there might be several iterations, the task could have lingered there for a long time.
Thanks to the swimlanes, we can see the actual stage at which the task currently resides
- For instance, the design itself might be approved, but the designer needs to illustrate additional states, prepare layouts for handover to the development team, or add minor elements to the UI kit. These tasks need to be done regardless. However, we prefer not to create separate tasks for these since they essentially relate to the same task.
This is a simple solution that, nevertheless, improved resource management.
What were the concerns, and how did we address them?
In our case, it was crucial to alleviate the workload specifically on the Client Acceptance column. This way, we could gain a clearer picture of our tasks: what's currently under review, what has been sent back for revisions, which tasks are nearing completion, and which ones are undergoing initial review by the client. Artifact preparation took a week, while acceptance took a month. Clearly, something was off; it was better to break down this stage into several other stages.
This approach didn’t suit us. A couple of new columns wouldn’t provide enough clarity in our workflow. All it did was overcrowd the board and complicate the workflow. Additionally, when dealing with iterations, tasks essentially repeat the path they've previously taken, making the solution involving additional swimlanes appear more elegant.
Why we’re proud of ourselves
- When the department head can see the stage of a task, they can authorize a specialist to start working on it immediately or later. For instance, in one project, the requirements document might already be at the final stage, while in another, the team hasn't yet begun. A quick look at the board indicates which task has a higher priority. Previously, this would have required discussions with the manager of each project.
4. Such meticulousness is particularly beneficial in fixed-price projects, where addressing feedback takes more time than the initial iteration. It's crucial for the client to consistently understand the stage we're at. Moreover, additional metric monitoring can help pinpoint bottlenecks and streamline the process overall.