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Every organization seeks to improve their productivity and resource efficiency in any way possible. Although there is no single golden thumb rule that works for all, the Kanban system is one of the most popular approach in operations management which helps organization to achieve higher levels of productivity by visualizing work and streamlining the work in progress. As a management student, it is imperative for you to have a thorough understanding on Kanban so that you can write papers on your own, on this topic.

The term Kanban is derived from the Japanese word for “card”, which acts as a signal in Kanban system. Kanban is a lean scheduling approach to inventory management, where an organization aims at reducing the inventory lot sizes. This is achieved by moving inventory through the retailers only as needed by them, instead of pushing them through the supply chain whether or not there is a demand for it. This approach where the inventory is moved only as it is needed, is called a “pull” system.Kanban facilitates the arrival of the inventory at a work center which matches the processes sing time as much as possible.

What makes Kanban So Useful?

The concept of Kanban seeks to reduce inventory by pulling inventory. The requirement for the next batch of items is signaled through the use of a card or Kanban, which acts as the authorization for the arrival of the inventory. In a typical scenario, a Kanban is generated for each container of shipment required from the supplier. Now before you can apply Kanban in your own college essay, let us look at an example.

In your nearest supermarket, when customers make their purchases, the employees present on the floor observes the shelf and prepares an end-of-day sales list for restocking. When the limited supply of the store is finished, the shelves need to be restocked again. So, a pull signal is sent to the suppliers and the distributors, so that they can send the required stocks the very next morning. This allows the store to retain only as much inventory as needed. Organizations often use the Kanban system by redesigning its concept to best fit their own business model. The core idea of implementing Kanban system is to send a signal for restocking as the inventories deplete. Usually, each Kanban card or signal refers to a fixed number of containers or SKUs (stock keeping units). The number of Kanban cards issued can be determined by the following simple formula:

Core Principles of Implementing Kanban

Kanban can be implemented in almost any organization of your choice in your formal essay, by following the four key principle of Kanban. These principles make Kanban an incremental and evolutionary process.

1. Begin with What You Already Know: The Kanban system is highly flexible in nature, which allows it to be implemented on any existing operations model, without disrupting the workflow, which has already been proven to be successful for the company. Application of Kanban on the existing workflow allows for identification of key issues that needs to be addressed which is bottlenecking the productivity of the firm. One of the key advantages of adopting Kanban approach is that it does not require any sudden major changes in the organization, thereby avoiding the risk of rejection from the workforce.

2. Adopt Evolutionary and Incremental Changes: The processes associated with the Kanban system is designed to meet minimum resistance. It encourages the organization to bring small incremental changes where it gains more control over its flow of inventory thereby becoming more reactive to market demand.

3. Respect Current Operational Processes: The Kanban system is designed to recognize the existing roles, responsibilities and processes which are already functional in the organization and should be retained. It is important to understand that Kanban bring evolutionary changes, which can be implemented on the existing processes to improve them where there are opportunities.

4. Facilitate Leadership in All Hierarchical Levels: The process of Kanban allows the leaders and managers to focus on the managing the work, rather than managing people and their roles. The application extends to every level of the organization, where the company adopts a lean approach.

Based on these 4 principles, the Kanban practices have been designed which can be applied to the existing business operations of the company. The practices discussed below can be highly useful for writing your paper for college.

Six Key Kanban Practices

The Kanban methodology has been designed to improve productivity in an organsiatoan at every level of its operations. It allows the firm to become more reactive while gaining more control over itsinventory management.

1. Workflow Visualization: The first stage is to visualize the workflow of the organization, in the form of visual representation involving job cards and columns highlighting its status.

The Kanban board, as shown above, provides a clear understanding to the employees about which tasks are needed to be done, which are ongoing, which have been completed and which are delayed. This as a result helps in prioritizing the tasks in the most suitable manner.

2. Streamline Work in Progress: Secondly, the organization needs to make sure that at any given time there are only as many works in progress as manageable. This compels the firm to limit its WIP in order to avoid overworking of the employees and making them more efficient.

3. Manage Workflow: Managing the workflow involves ensuring a seamless flow of work through the production process. The firm needs to reduce or eliminate any bottlenecks in the workflow which is limiting the efficiency of the resources. It should be noted that the managers should focus on managing the operational activities and the workflow, instead of managing the people.

4. Clearly Defined Policies:
The process policies should be explicitly defined to every employee. Clearly communicating the workflow processes and its associated policies can help fostering voluntary participation of the employees. Employees are more likely to get involved in processes which they clearly understand.

5. Facilitate Feedbacks: Exchange of feedbacks within the organization plays a crucial role in the implementation of the Kanban system. It facilitates seamless transfer of knowledge among the stakeholders. The employees are fully aware of the expectation of the managers. Simultaneously, the managers also have a clear idea of the status of the work progress.

6. Collaborative Improvement: In order effectively utilize the Kanban system to improve organizational productivity, it is important to engage all the functional units of the firm into the process. Continuous improvement can only be achieved when all the department of the organization are jointly engaged in managing the workflow following the Kanban system. The teams which share the same goal of organizational success are also more likely to work together on common organizational problems and progress towards a better future.

At this point, you should have gained an in-depth knowledge on what is Kanban and how it enables an organization to become more productive and resource efficient. The principles and practices discussed on this article can be quite useful in professional essay writing on the domain of operations management.

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