Kanban is any signaling device that gives authorization for a supplying process to know what to produce, or for a material handler to know what items to replenish. For example: a physical paper card placed in a container of parts. When stored items are actually used, the Kanban card gets “freed” (perhaps it was in the bottom of the container), and gets put back into a Kanban stand where the Kanban “requests” are fulfilled.
Kanban is a way of limiting work in process and the amount of new work that is introduced into the process. As a result, work would be pulled from the previous stage as work is completed and levels demand. It emphasizes throughput rather than numbers. If you have read my previous posts, you would recognize the emphasis I put on throughput and the need for this to be monitored in the sales and marketing process.
The Reasons for a Kanban can be summed up in these previous posts:
Improve your Marketing Cycle, Increase your Revenue : Speed is important in the buying process. Your total cycle time can be improved. However, it seldom can be done without more feedback loops in your system. Develop process blitzes to reduce these non-value times. Go to Gemba or the customer’s place of work and find out what happens during this time. See what is stopping them from moving forward. It may be an internal constraint within their company. However, the constraint may be yours. You may not be responding to the customer’s latest needs. Your ability to focus your resources on the customer needs may provide the overall clarity he needs this to make a more rapid decision.
Improve throughput, cut your customers in half!: In a manufacturing system cutting WIP just about always will increase throughput. Why? You end up working only on what is needed and when it is needed. You also will have less waste, less material to handle and fewer mistakes. Good things happen when you are not handling excessive amount of material. In a marketing system cutting the amount of customers in half works very much the same way. You end up working on what a customer truly needs and wants. Your marketing will become more personal, more direct, and fewer mistakes.
Using the Six Sigma Tollgate in your Marketing Funnel: Have you thought of using DMAIC as a way of defining your marketing funnel? We looked at Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control and utilized these basic principles to walk a customer through the marketing funnel. In other posts, I discussed the ability to create a shorter cycle time by decreasing the non-value time in between each of these stages. One of the methods of doing this is to have a strong call to action for a prospect to move from one stage to the next. However, how do you know if a customer is ready to move from one stage to the next?
What kind of questions would you ask at a tollgate?: In a recent post, using the Six Sigma Tollgate in your Marketing Funnel I went through the concept of using a tollgate in your marketing funnel. Below is a list of questions that might help general a few ideas that you may want to consider. (Review Post)
The essential points needed in a Kanban system are:
- Stock points
- Replenishment Signal
- Quick Feedback
- Frequent Replenishment
If you would consider the typical marketing cycle as a prospect moves from one stage to another, you imagine it as step by step process and certain events taking place within that stage. With a Kanban method or a tollgate you could have certain trigger points for each stage or even a phase within that stage allowing one marketing effort to pull from the previous. The method would also limit the number of prospects within that cycle so that the proper amount could be managed or more importantly satisfied! Or, you could have an unlimited supply of leads flowing into each stage? You probably wish you had the latter. However, which would prove more effective?
Photo Courtesy of Systems2win.