University of Oulu

Muhammad Ovais Ahmad, Denis Dennehy, Kieran Conboy, Markku Oivo. Kanban in software engineering: A systematic mapping study. In Journal of Systems and Software, Volume 137, 2018, Pages 96-113, ISSN 0164-1212.

Kanban in software engineering : a systematic mapping study

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Author: Ahmad, Muhammad Ovais1; Dennehy, Denis2; Conboy, Kieran3;
Organizations: 1Empirical Software Engineering in Software, Systems and Services, P.O. Box 4500, University of Oulu, 90014, Finland
2Lero Research Centre & Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, Ireland
3College of Business, Public Policy & Law, Lero Research Centre & Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, Ireland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-11-24


Following a well-established track record of success in other domains such as manufacturing, Kanban is increasingly used to achieve continuous development and delivery of value in the software industry. However, while research on Kanban in software is growing, these articles are largely descriptive, and there is limited rigorous research on its application and with little cohesive building of cumulative knowledge. As a result, it is extremely difficult to determine the true value of Kanban in software engineering. This study investigates the scientific evidence to date regarding Kanban by conducting a systematic mapping of Kanban literature in software engineering between 2006 and 2016. The search strategy resulted in 382 studies, of which 23 were identified as primary papers relevant to this research. This study is unique as it compares the findings of these primary papers with insights from a review of 23 Kanban experience reports during the same period. This study makes four important contributions, (i) a state-of-the-art of Kanban research is provided, (ii) the reported benefits and challenges are identified in both the primary papers and experience reports, (iii) recommended practices from both the primary papers and experience reports are listed and (iv) opportunities for future Kanban research are identified.

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Series: Journal of systems and software
ISSN: 0164-1212
ISSN-E: 1873-1228
ISSN-L: 0164-1212
Volume: 137
Pages: 96 - 113
DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.11.045
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 220 Industrial biotechnology
113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This research was performed within the DIMECC (Digital, Internet, Materials & Engineering Co-Creation) Need for Speed program and was partially funded by Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation). This work was supported with the financial support of the Science Foundation Ireland grant 13/RC/2094 and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund through the Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme to Lero - the Irish Software Research Centre (
Copyright information: © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license