Kanban - What is it and How to Use it in Recruitment

Kanban – What is it and How to Use it in Recruitment

Can you think of a single, simple technique that can improve your recruiting process? Kanban is cited by 37% of companies as the best tool for tracking processes, recruiting included.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a technique where a specific process is laid out visually. Usually, a board is used where specific subtasks are laid out and regularly updated. In a manufacturing environment, for instance, the board would show every step of the manufacturing process: it would quantify what materials are used, track work-in-progress, end goals, and more.

Using Kanban allows management to quickly spot and address workflow problems. Kanban boards, whether digital or physical, help to increase efficiency for greater value and growth.

History of Kanban and its Uses

As a part of the need for leaner manufacturing processes and just-in-time production, the Kanban board is a means of scheduling and communication so that efforts remain coordinated and priorities are recognized.

Kanban was developed for use in the automotive industry during the 1940s. The technique was pioneered by engineer Taiichi Ohno of the Toyota motor company. It was hoped that Kanban would bring the company on a closer par with the efficiency of American automobile assembly lines.

Kanban systems can manage a single key process or the entire workflow from suppliers to customers. Inventory and accountability can also be included to optimize material flow and reduce disruptions. As a means of building higher output with shorter timeframes, Toyota’s success led to various forms of Kanban spreading throughout the automotive industry, and ultimately to many other industries and the digital sphere.

Kanban and Agile Recruitment

Kanban is an Agile methodology that helps facilitate faster development and operations. It allows teams to easier cope with changing requirements, helping them react much faster. By breaking up large projects into smaller, more manageable steps, called sprints, Agile methodology helps implement new solutions as soon as there is a major (or minor) shift in any process. Thanks to this, teams are better able to revisit tasks and adapt to the unpredictable.

One industry where this has proven to be very effective is recruitment, specifically, recruitment agencies. Progress through incremental sprints provides more visibility into recruitment activities.

Implementing Agile

For instance, suppose that your recruitment task is to put together an elite talent pool for a company’s graphic arts department. The task is streamlined into sprints such as defining candidate requirements, sourcing candidates, advertising, active recruiting, initial contact and screening, interview, and so forth.

Often, you’ll have to adjust job requirements if sourcing is not bringing appropriate candidates. Agile sprints combined with Kanban allow you to revisit any step and tweak when necessary. By gathering timely feedback from clients and candidates, you will adjust the process faster, even when hiring for an entirely new position.

Difficulties With Kanban and Agile

And how do you keep this fluid process shared across the team? With Kanban boards. A particular team, such as your IT recruiters, can see each new position as soon as it appears. They can check what kind of progress has been made to fill the client’s expectations. Each sprint is revisited to ensure that current demands are being met.

It’s critical to have a good grasp of how you’ll implement Kanban and Agile to achieve goals faster. While your team identifies the hoped-for outcome of each sprint and the priorities needed to get ideal candidates in the most efficient way, it is the client who must be involved in the planning process. Without their involvement and feedback, any changes and improvements might be a step backwards.

Your Recruitment Kanban Board

When integrating Kanban and Agile, focus on simplicity. Trying to bring too much detail or tasks will obscure the recruitment process and leave everyone involved scratching their heads. While you are making your Kanban board, there are a few steps you should follow:

  1. Decide how to represent your process flow and your candidates visually. Ideally, it should be simple so that everyone understands. For example – have tabs for each task step, and candidates added as movable substeps.
  2. Limit the number of candidates in any one stage of the process to avoid distractions and mistakes from over-work.
  3. Focus on the flow of candidates through the process. Allow reiteration using Agile methodologies where criteria changes or surprises, such as not finding good candidates, occur.
  4. Gather feedback and document your efforts and results. Continuously look for areas where your processes need adjustment.

For example, to make a Kanban board for interviews, you would have steps such as:

  • Prospects – a list of candidates who seem to be a good fit
  • Contact Candidate – a list of candidates to contact
  • Contacted – a list of candidates who were contacted
  • Scheduled – a list of candidates with a scheduled interview time
  • Rejected – candidates that are not a good fit
  • Rejected after Interview – candidates who didn’t make it after the interview
  • Final Interview – the final screening before offering candidates
  • Candidate to Offer – those candidates you will offer to the client

For each of these tasks, you should limit to having a maximum of 3 names for each. For example, if you already scheduled 3 interview, you will not schedule another one until you finish interviewing at least one of the three, and so on.

Your team will be able to see at a glance which candidates might be moving too slowly through the workflow. You will be able to resolve issues by reiterating steps, or working more closely with certain candidates to sharpen skills may provide a solution. A Kanban board helps you identify potential problems more quickly.

Success in recruitment, as in any other business functions, takes visibility into processes. It takes a coordinated effort. Kanban, especially when combined with methodologies like Agile, is a proven tool for developing a more productive organization.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Jasmine Williams

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. She was rummaging through her grandma’s clothes before it was cool and she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, but delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Tweet her @JazzyWilliams88

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