In Lean systems, it is important to identify the maximum number of items allowable in each stage of a workflow. Since work at any stage before completion does not provide actual value, having too much Work In Progress (WIP) can be an expensive proposition. Setting a WIP Limit helps ensure that there is a smooth flow of value through the entire system. On Kanban boards, WIP Limits are an essential constraint, because they act as a signal to finish work that is already in progress, rather than starting on something new.
When starting new teams, experimentation is necessary to determine WIP Limits. By applying the Theory of Constraints, and visualizing the work as it moves through different stages, teams can identify bottlenecks and improve their process.
WIP Limit Video
WIP Limit Podcasts
WIP Limit Example
Authored by Steve Moubray
Edited by Philip Rogers
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