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12 Weeks to Kanban - How to use Kanban in your MSP with ConnectWise or Autotask

Welcome! You're probably here because you've heard of Kanban and how it streamlines work for IT managed service providers, but you don't know how to get started. Don't worry! Adopting Kanban practices in your team isn't difficult, and it doesn't require much time. This 12 week program will help you understand the key points of Kanban and begin using it in your MSP.

We created this training series to address the #1 feedback we used to get from customers who cancelled- "TopLeft is great, but our team isn't ready to use it." There were no easy-to-understand instructions for an MSP that wanted to improve their workflow by using Kanban. But that's no longer the case. This program will get you up and running with Kanban in 12 weeks.

12 Weeks to Kanban is loosely inspired by week-by-week Couch To 5k exercise programs such as this one.

What to Expect

This program takes you through a series of steps to adopt Kanban for a single workflow in your MSP. For example, by the end of 12 weeks, you might use Kanban for the quarterly business technology review workflow, where you prepare and deliver high-level business reviews for each customer every quarter. When you complete the program for one workflow you should repeat the process for other workflows in your organization. Limiting the initial changes to a single workflow keeps things simple, allows you to test the changes in a single team and not the whole company, and reduces the time investment.

To keep changes manageable, only one step is prescribed each week. While you could work ahead and do more than one step each week, we encourage you to take it slow. Enjoy the ride. If you miss a week, don't try to catch up. Just resume where you left off. You're more likely to succeed if you give your team a chance to observe the positive results of changes and to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Think of it like getting into a steaming hot tub- it's nice to ease yourself in. Jumping in all at once leads to quite a shock.

Don't expect all the changes to be easy. You'll need to revisit some decisions. Some team members will need persuasion and some customers will need explaining. This is fine. Your business workflows are deeply embedded in your organization, so expect a few challenges when making a major change.

This program doesn't explain every aspect of Kanban. You should learn about Kanban from other resources. We think of this program like a recipe for someone who already knows how to cook; we don't explain the basics of cooking. Here are some good resources for learning about Kanban:

What You Need

If you were to start an exercise program, you'd be sure to get good shoes and appropriate clothing. In the same way, there are a few things you'll need when you adopt Kanban in your organization. Before starting this program, ensure you have:

  • Understanding of the problems you're hoping to solve. You have some dissatisfaction with your current methodology. For example, maybe tickets sit in a queue for many weeks before they're started, or tickets are started but rarely finished. If all you have is a vague goal such as "become agile," you're not likely to succeed.
  • Support from company leadership. Leadership should understand that adopting Kanban is a major change. They should understand the change process.
  • Authority to change organizational processes. You are respected in the organization and can lead changes in the affected teams. Depending on the amount of resistance to change in the affected teams, you can apply the appropriate amount of carrot/stick to push changes forward.
  • Understanding throughout the company that Kanban is being adopted in one workflow now and in other workflows in 12 weeks. Nobody should be surprised when these changes begin.
  • Time to dedicate to the change. We've designed the program to take minimal time, but it will require some time to analyze, discuss, and implement changes.
  • Permissions to configure service boards and statuses in ConnectWise. We prescribe changes to the ConnectWise configuration and it's much easier if you can make these changes yourself than if you must ask someone else to change them.
  • A TopLeft account. If you don't yet have an account, sign up today.

Next Up: Kanban vs. Connectwise Methods