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Limit Work In Progress (WIP) With Kanban

Why do we need a definition of Work In Progress (WIP) Limit in Kanban?

Because Kanban is a pull system. That means each step of the Kanban process pulls tasks for processing depending on their available capacity. In contrast, in a push system, the demand centers push tasks and initiate their starts.

This maximum available capacity of a Kanban team, which is responsible for a specific step, corresponds to Work In Progress (WIP) Limit in Kanban.

Limiting Work In Progress (WIP) comes from efficient lean manufacturing ideas. Kanban advocates the minimization of work in progress items at every step of the production phase. That enables quicker problem resolution, faster and more optimal stabilization of processes, and lower wastes.

Over the years, it has been proven that smaller batch sizes of work enabled by limiting Work In Progress (WIP) made various other benefits possible for Kanban teams such as building ownership of their work, system-thinking, and innovative mindsets.

Work In Progress (WIP) limit of Kanban provides two benefits in managing disorder.

  1. Focus Of Kanban Team: WIP Limits restrict the number of tasks influenced by altering priorities and demands. That saves Kanban teams from abandoning their ongoing tasks.
  2. Improvement Of Kanban Process: A Kanban team cannot finish its work quicker than its slowest step. Therefore WIP Limits can quickly show the Kanban team whether specific steps are bottlenecks or the other steps are overoptimized. This input can be rapidly turned into measures to improve the overall performance of the Kanban process.

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Limit Work In Progress (WIP) With Kanban

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