Agile beyond IT - Applying Kanban in HR functions for enterprise agility

Human Resources is an important function of an organization today. Like before, it's no more all about recruitment and people management but a complete paradigm shift on People Development. Today's organizations are more knowledge workers and hence they are no more looking out for jobs but are aspiring for long lasting and rewarding careers.

However, HR practices that are followed today are many a times still primitive and not updated to match with the aspirations of today's players. A shift in mind set and practices are very much the need of the day if an organization truly wants to develop its people and create a knowledge organization.

Kanban is an extremely effective way to bring in Resilience into the HR practices. This paper will walkthrough the case study of how HR has been implemented successfully in my client organization to keep up with both the speed and the development aspects of the organization.

We used most of the key Kanban principles while applying Kanban for the HR team. Here is an example for one of the HR teams – Talent Acquisition – on how Kanban was implemented: I will have multiple examples in the ppt.


  1. Visualize the workflow - we used this specifically in the talent acquisition teams to track the number of applications, applications selected, interviews lined up, offers rolled out and candidate joining. These were the columns we used in our Kanban board and each item was tracked and during the daily stand up, if any of the line item was in the same column for more than 3 working days. Each column was further split into – To Do, WIP and Completed (refer to the ppt for the visual of the board)
  2. Applying WIP Limits – We had a two –way limit to the WIP – one at the time level with a 3 working day limit for completing the pending work and second – not having more than 3 work items on the board
  3. Manage flow – since the requests for hire come from all over the organization, managing flow and identifying a point of contact for the business units was critical and helped manage the flow and predict the flow for the future as well
  4. Make process and policies explicit – since all of the business units are the customers, being transparent with them on making the hiring process explicit and bringing them into the Kanban fold was essential
  5. Feedback – As all the business units are the customers, taking a monthly feedback on the talent acquisition process and a retrospection on the feedback for continuous improvement was essential
  6. Improve and Evolve – Improving on the feedback as well as inspections within the team and evolving as an efficient lean team was not just a principle for us but it was our Goal!

The key problem we were trying to solve were:

1. Agility in IT only can only bring that much change and will continue to be constrained on human factors. Hence agility should go beyond software development and we started with HR to begin with.

2. Agile is a team and people focused philosophy. If these are ignored, the initial improvements we will see in IT will stagnate without able support from the HR function over a period of time. So to sustain the IT agility, it's essential we go beyond to bring in enterprise agility

The key measures that helped us to tell that we are in the right direction were:

1. Frequent feedback - from teams, managers, stakeholders on any new changes / processes we introduce (e.g.: managing recruitment pipeline for various business units - current # of days vs post Kanban implementation days etc)

2. Feedback from candidates on recruitment experience

3. Learning & Development progress - participation, applying the learning

4. Feedback on new performance / talent development process

All changes were introduced gradually and frequent inspect and adapt helped in streamlining the gaps. We looked not only at Kanban principles but also the 4 values and 12 principles of agile manifesto to see and measure our progress.


Outline/Structure of the Case Study

It will be a 45 minutes ppt based session with the following agenda: 

  1. Introduction to Kanban – 5 minutes
  2. Kanband principles – understanding empirically – 5 minutes
  3. Kanban beyond IT – 5 minutes
  4. Kanban for HR – deep dive – 15 minutes
  5. Advantages / benefits – 5 minutes
  6. Do’s and Don’ts – 2-3 minutes
  7. Q&A and wrap up – 6-8 minutes

Learning Outcome


  1. Understanding Kanban principles in its true spirit beyond theory
  2. Applying Kanban in HR teams and how it fits so well
  3. Advantages of Kanban in HR Teams
  4. Dos and Donts before and during the Kanban journey


Target Audience

All senior management team planning for enterprise transformation


schedule Submitted 6 years ago

  • Siraj Sirajuddin

    Siraj Sirajuddin / Amitabh Mendiratta SPC 4, CSP, DA, CSM / Susan Gibson / Tathagat Varma - Enterprise Agility & Leadership Transformation Stories (2017)

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    Enterprise Agile Transformation initiatives are BIG. Change at this scale of thousands is tough. 

    The Leaders and Executives involved in these initiatives are going through their own personal transformation. Change at this scale of one is equally tough. 

    Since our last session at Agile India 2016, (March 2016), we have worked with several hundred more leaders, put on two gatherings for leadership story telling, published two books etc.. You'll hear a lot of new stories direct from the field, with those experiencing the transformation firsthand.  

    Siraj Sirajuddin (SPCT4) has worked with hundreds of executives leading enterprise agile transformation initiatives. These are their stories of personal growth and individuation. We will hear how transformation at a personal level is the leverage for transformation at a collective level. We will also learn of unique methods that activate personal transformation for leaders who are ready to step into their leader persona but are unable to get that from traditional leadership training and coaching methods.

  • Siraj Sirajuddin

    Siraj Sirajuddin / Susan Gibson - The New New Offshore Development Game - Taking India’s Offshore Advantage to the Next Level with Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

    90 Mins

    The New New Offshore Development Game: Taking India’s Offshore Advantage to the Next Level with SAFe®.

    India has won the offshore development game by numbers. The offshore advantage is firmly with Indian software services players.

    How will India continue to win this game? How are the leading Indian software services companies going to provide Enterprise Agility advantage to their clients? How are they transforming themselves to enable their clients transformation? How are the GICs (Captives) adopting Scaled Agile to match the “Motherships”?

    In this powerful keynote presentation we look at where the leading edge is for these offshore scaled agile service providers. We will hear stories of transformation and the challenges of adopting Scaled Agile.

    Siraj Sirajuddin (SIRAJ), SPCT4, MBA - has been working with very large offshore scaled agile engagements since 2012. He has been in the Indian offshore development advisory business since 1992. He is India’s first SAFe Program Consultant & Trainer (SPCT4) and his consulting firm, Temenos+Agility, is India’s leading provider of Scaled Agile training, consulting and advisory for offshore vendors and GICs (Captives). He travels between India and USA every month leading several large onshore / offshore client engagements and training workshops. Siraj has trained more than 200+ SPCs in India and several thousand scaled agile professionals all over the world. He is the Founder of The Temenos Effect and hosts the annual Temenos Effect Gatherings in Bengaluru India and Boston USA.

    Susan Gibson, SPCT4, CSPO - For the past thirty years in the tech industry, Susan has been working with large enterprises, helping them to transform, resulting in happier employees, delighted customers, and greater competitive advantage . Susan is Co-Founder of Temenos+Agility, and travels the world, training, consulting and mentoring top leaders from some of the world's largest multi-national corporations, enabling them and other change agents to lead large-scale agile transformations, leveraging the Scaled Agile Framework.


  • 45 Mins
    Experience Report

    This talk will present you with the real time challenges and ideas to deal with them in a healthy way with SAFe framework.

    • Challenges the organization needs to deal when they deal with Enterprise transformation.
    • How Leaders and Agile Coaches play an influencing and critical role in enabling the organization in scaling agile practices
    • How the leadership teams can make or break the deal
    • How the 5 critical challenges are addressed with Lean practices embedded in the SAFe framework.
    • Some tips to make it happen.
  • Deepti Jain

    Deepti Jain - Coffee Talk ScrumMaster

    Deepti Jain
    Deepti Jain
    Agile Consultant
    schedule 6 years ago
    Sold Out!
    20 Mins

    What do you enjoy most with your coffee talk friend, that friend with whom you can be yourself, seek help and express ideas? Does anyone even need an answer to understand the feeling?

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    In this talk I am not going to talk about what and why of role ‘ScrumMaster’, we already know that. But I want to shed some light on the most ignored part – How. What human aspect makes a ScrumMaster a friend, philosopher and guide? Can anyone who is a CSM, or SAFe SM or SM can be one such ScrumMaster? In short, I want to talk about qualities that make you a ScrumMaster material. For a ScrumMaster to be able to facilitate anything, be it process, cross-functional team, motivation or conflict resolution, it is really important to be able to connect with his team members and enroll them in his vision and mission of creating a dream team. He should be able to create a space of trust where individuals feel safe to share.

  • Eelco Rustenburg

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    45 Mins

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  • Noopur Pathak

    Noopur Pathak - The Magic knobs of Agile Digital Marketing

    Noopur Pathak
    Noopur Pathak
    schedule 5 years ago
    Sold Out!
    45 Mins

    My experiments with Agile Digital Marketing led me to tap into my own creativity and innovation.

    Being a marketeer, I never had the luxury to depend on a single technique for a longer period of time. With the change in technology, product attributes and customer expectations, everything changes everyday. Since Agile talks about adapting to the changing environment, I chose to club Agile and Digital Marketing practices to survive and grow in the shifting ecosystem.

    The journey began with breaking down Google Adwords marketing campaigns into smaller iterations than doing it at once. The results have been overwhelming both financially and emotionally. 15-20% of the budget allocated could be saved. 

    In this session, I share my journey 'Monomyth' to move from known to unknown and reach back home with newfound wisdom - 'The Magic knobs of Agile Digital Marketing'.