Now Set Work in Progress (WIP) Limits in Aha! Develop

Add WIP limits to columns on the workflow board in Aha! Develop.

February 10, 2022

Now Set Work in Progress (WIP) Limits in Aha! Develop

by Jeff Tucker

Stop starting and start finishing. This is a fundamental concept of kanban. The idea is that it is more efficient to focus on getting a few work items done quickly rather than letting unfinished work accumulate. Setting work in progress (WIP) limits establishes your team's workflow capacity at any given time — so you can deliver value at a steady pace.

You can now set WIP limits on your workflow board in Aha! Develop to improve team efficiency.

Beyond efficiency, WIP limits also force you to ruthlessly prioritize work and focus on what is most important. When you have fewer items in progress, it is easier to monitor all of them and see where tasks get held up — so you can quickly address blockers or bottlenecks and keep moving forward.

With today's update, you can add a WIP limit to each column on the workflow board in Aha! Develop — excluding columns that are marked as "Done," "Shipped" or "Will not do." When a WIP limit is exceeded, the column turns red and a card limit line appears.

Let's take a closer look at how to use WIP limits:

Set your limit

Start by setting a WIP limit — using the new menu option in the top right of a column on your workflow board. There is no magic formula to this limit — estimate what is manageable for the team and adjust over time. In the example below, we added a WIP limit to these three columns: "In development," "Waiting," and "Code review." This will restrict the amount of work that can be in a given status to no more than three cards.

Add a "Waiting" column to your workflow board to highlight work that is queued up.

Optimize your flow

Now let's use our WIP limits to evaluate work as it moves across the board. In the example below, when we move a card to "Code review," the column turns red — indicating that we have exceeded the WIP limit. We can dig into the reason why and figure out what needs to happen next to keep work moving along.

Changing the WIP limit is easy — just click the number and type in a new value.

Use WIP limits to focus on what is most important and deliver more value. It is a win for the team and for customers.

So stop starting and start finishing. You will be amazed at how much more efficient you are when you focus on fewer things. And if you are new to WIP limits, just give them a try. You can easily adjust your limits as you learn more — until you finally achieve the optimal throughput.

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Jeff Tucker

Jeff is passionate about promoting customer empathy throughout product and engineering teams. He is a Senior Product Manager at Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software. Jeff has more than 10 years of experience across product, design, and engineering roles. Previously, he managed products at developer tool and cybersecurity startups.

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