Case Study – Kanban board for a purchasing & import department


Kanban boards were originally invented as tool to link the information flow between work cells, but in the last couple of years this concept had been adapted to steer the delivery of IT teams. However, it may also be used to facilitate the coordination efforts for a purchasing & import department, as I like to show in this example.

In our case the department manages about 10 sea and air import processes per month. Each Kanban card represents one importation process. These cards are put in one of the board’s columns, indicating the stage of the particular process. The stages range from “in production” over “in transit” until “cost accounting finished and closed”. So everyone can quickly check how things are progressing.

Kanban - Import Process

The actual Kanban card itself contains 4 types of information: General information about the process (i.e. the FOB value, the number of pallets or gross weight), the most important dates (i.e. shipping date or arrival date), a checklist for all off the required documentation, and an overall summary/status.

Lean SCM - Kanban Card

While the details of the processes are maintained in an ERP system, the board has been proven itself as a useful information radiator which facilitates alignment and prioritization for the employees.