Measuring Progress and Kanban

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Agile Fundamentals Online Learning
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The course is part of these learning paths

Applying AGILE Techniques to Build a DevOps Practice
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Agile Fundamentals
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Measuring Progress and Kanban


This course takes a look at how you can work in an agile way. It will help you to understand what value is, how to measure progress and what Kanban is, and what a project is. You will also learn more about iterative development, how to estimate, and reflect on your own agile journey.   

Learning Objectives 

The objectives of this course are to provide you with and understanding of: 

  • What value is
  • How to measure progress
  • What Kanban is 
  • What agile pm/ DSDM is 
  • How to delivery in an iterative way 
  • How to estimate 
  • Growth through mastery  

Intended Audience 

This course is suitable for anyone with no prior knowledge of agile who is considering, evaluating or involved in a move towards working in (or with) an agile environment.  


There are no prerequisites for this course, however, participants should be familiar with the content and rationale in the agile manifesto ( ) 


We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at if you are unsure about where to start or if would like help getting started. 


How do we actually monitor the progress we're making in an agile environment? Well, there are two really common ways to monitor progress, and in this video we're gonna discuss both. The first one I'd like to mention quite briefly is the burn down chart. This is simply a chart that plots the estimation of effort to get the work done, against the number of days in a sprint to help us visualize our progress.

On the horizontal axis you have time, or the number of days in the sprint, and on the vertical axis, you have the number of effort points you've built into the sprint. In a perfect world, there would be a straight line down from the total estimation to the last moment of the sprint. Of course, this isn't how things actually work. Sometimes, user stories take a couple of days to complete and other times work gets done in a flurry. This means that the burn down chart line you create will have horizontal and vertical lines; horizontal while work is ongoing, and vertical when it's completed, creating a graph that looks more like this.

A second way that we can monitor and visualize our progress is by using a kanban board. So, kanban comes from the Tokyo Production System, TPS, and translates to signal card. It's a just-in-time flow-based system to help deal with the build-up of inventory, but ultimately it works well in an agile environment, too. So, kanban boards are quite simple, actually. You can think of them as a system of flow. So, imagine we've got a few headings, something like ready, worked on, or work in progress, tested, PO signed off, and done. Now, all we have to do is create our user stories and build them across the kanban board as we go. While this is a really easy way to monitor progress, using kanban properly also means that we need to embrace the four principles and five rules of kanban. Let's go through each of these quickly.

The first principle is start with the existing process and resources. Don't try to change anything at first. Start where you are and map your tasks into the kanban board. Next up, embrace iterative change. So, over time, take on the lessons learned and change as you need to. Everyone is responsible. While this one kind of speaks for itself, it's easy to put blame onto others when things don't go right. This principle tells us the responsibility for success and failure sits with the whole team. The last principle is respect roles. Regardless of how cross-functional your team is, it's important to respect the role that each person plays in bringing your product or service to life.

Let's move on to the rules now. The first is that you have to visualize the workflow. You can do this in a kanban board and by using user stories or any process that you use to populate it. These could be accounts payable, recruitment, expenses, anything really. The next is limit work in progress. The key thing here then is that you should only be working on whatever you can achieve at any one point. Don't look to have lots of work in progress. Instead, have less work in progress, and get that done as quickly as possible. This allows us to limit context-switching or task-switching, helping us to keep focused and limiting any wasted effort.

Measure and improve flow. Over time, you can start to see where the bottlenecks are and understand what's working and what's not. We need to measure this, take note of it, and ultimately, look to improve the workflow if at all possible. Chances are this is an ongoing process, as once one bottleneck is dealt with, another will appear. Make process policies explicit. It's very important that everyone understands exactly how things are going to be done, why they're done that way, and to keep this at the forefront of everyone's minds. These could be in the form of working agreements, which must be visible to everyone.

Lastly, improve collaboratively. It doesn't help to improve only yourself. As a team, you need to be looking to improve. So, those are two really fantastic ways you can measure progress in agile environments. Burn down charts are a quick graphical representation of the progress that has or hasn't been made. Kanban boards are a visual representation of all the work that's being done and represents a workflow.

About the Author

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Tony has over 20 years’ experience in Business Development, Business Change, Consulting and Project/Programme Management working with public, private and third sector organisations.

He has helped organisations to design and create process and procedures to align ways of working with corporate strategy. A highly motivated and detailed solution provider utilising a wide range of methods and frameworks to provide structure whilst promoting creativity and innovation.

As a confident and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills Tony is able to bring people together and get them working as a team quickly.

Tony is an Agile and Scrum trainer with a vast knowledge spanning IT Systems, Business Change, Programme and Project Management. With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. He has successfully guided those new to the industry through their initial training, helped experienced staff as they progress in their careers and worked at Director level advising on best use and practice, as well as tailoring courses to fulfil the exact needs of clients.