Doing too many things at once can slow an entire organisation down. Every successful organisation will have more great ideas than they have capacity to build, and it is tempting to start too many of them at the same time. However, too many projects in progress will slow down delivery of each and every one of them. This is exactly what happened to us at Trade Me, New Zealand’s biggest eCommerce platform.

Using the example of Trade Me, a 500 person company, I will demonstrate the practical application of Portfolio Kanban. I will show how we managed to: reduce our work in progress by blocking projects; work on the important rather than urgent stuff through visualisation and shared prioritisation; and explore how Trade Me are using Portfolio Kanban to direct the organisation’s Agile teams.

In this session I will describe how we managed to bridge the gap between theory and practice and share some ideas for how to put the principles of Kanban into action.

Come along and enjoy tales of our successes, challenges and struggles on our (ongoing) journey towards awesome portfolio management.


Outline/structure of the Session

  • The problem and its cause (5 mins):
    • What problem were we trying to solve at Trade Me?
      • Projects take a really long time
      • We don’t know where our projects are at
      • We can’t trust our estimates
    • Why were we facing those problems? 
      • Organisational multi-tasking
      • Ad-hoc resourcing/no stable teams
      • Lack of visibility  
  • The solution (20 mins) : In this section I will describe how portfolio Kanban helped us solve the above problems.
    • Make moving targets more stable: stable teams, stable priorities 
    • Visualisation - now we can see we have 69 projects in progress. Whatever our (yet unknown) capacity really is, that is way too many!
    • Reducing WIP - how do we actually make this happen? Block existing projects to reduce WIP
    • Managing people’s expectations - blocked means don’t work on it. 
    • Track progress - some metrics that matter (lead and cycle time, business happiness, client happiness, staff happiness)
    • Prioritisation across the organisation on a continuous basis. An exec team realising that just adding to the queue won’t help.
  • Benefits + challenges (5 mins): 
    • Working on the right stuff
    • We have a process for "shiny new things"
    • Getting stuff out faster
    • Ownership
    • Iterating through the board
    • Lack of co-location 

Learning Outcome

After this session participants will be able to: 
  • Explain what Portfolio Kanban is and how it works
  • Understand how to improve flow and delivery speed
  • Achieve transparency across the organisation
  • Apply practical measures to achieve and stick to organisational WIP limits
  • Come up with ways for how to practically prioritise between projects
  • Increase communication across the organisation
  • Have a step by step plan for how to get started

Target Audience

Programme Managers, Project Managers, Scrum Masters, IT-managers, Portfolio Managers

schedule Submitted 2 months ago

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