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Blog post 27 May 2022

Kanban vs Scrum

Kanban vs Scrum

Kanban and Scrum are both Agile project management methodologies. The term "Agile" refers to the philosophy of speed and flexibility in a working environment. As a quick guide, you can think of it as the more dynamic cousin of "Waterfall," the traditional linear development methodology that is used by many large companies.

scrum and kanban together

Agile methods promote sprints instead of strict schedules, short feedback loops instead of long-term planning, and collaboration over individual ownership. They also focus on continuous improvement, using data (like customer surveys) to improve processes.

Kanban vs Scrum: The Key Differences

Kanban and Scrum, while similar in many ways, have some fundamental differences that are worth pointing out. They both aim to maximise productivity by limiting time spent in meetings and on projects, and both Scrum and Kanban rely heavily on the concept of self-organising teams that work together efficiently.

DifferencesScrumKanban
ApproachScrum is characterised by its use of Sprints. A Sprint is a fixed-length time period (usually two to four weeks) during which specific pieces of required work must be completed.Kanban takes an entirely different approach by focusing on continuous improvement—making incremental changes over time to ensure quality without sacrificing pace.
FlexibilityScrum allows for flexibility only at the beginning of a project, but is inflexible once work on a task begins. It also has strict guidelines when it comes to changes after a product is launched.Kanban is a very flexible method and allows for change at any point during a project's life cycle.
Progress MeasureScrum emphasises getting a product out quickly with the help of frequent updates called Sprints. Sprints are often two-weeks long, and are made up of daily Scrum meetings where team members discuss what they plan to do.Kanban focuses more on using graphs rather than fixed deadlines when managing projects, so teams only keep track of what they are doing instead of worrying about superfluous details.
Scrum TeamIn Scrum, the team is fixed (but can be changed if certain people are not doing their jobs). There are three well-defined roles in this model: product owner, Scrum master and development team.This is another difference in Scrum and Kanban; In Kanban there is no designated person for any task. This means that team members can take on the responsibility of getting something done themselves.

Kanban Board vs Scrum Board

When deciding between a Kanban board and a Scrum board for software development, there are some core differences that should be weighed before picking a board to use. On the surface, it seems like both boards accomplish the same goal: keeping track of what needs to get done and who is working on it. However, those using Scrum will find that the way they work with their team is completely different from how someone using Kanban does.

Scrum boards are useful for situations in which there will be multiple project features being worked on at once (especially if they span longer periods of time). As Scrum theory dictates, Scrum teams work best when they have clear goals laid out before them which they can easily grasp onto and run towards without getting distracted by other things going on around them. In addition, Scrum boards allow managers to gauge progress more easily through the use of important metrics such as velocity—which measures how many points were completed over the last Sprint—and burndown/Sprint backlog—which shows how much has been added to task lists versus how much remains over time period.

Kanban boards work best for single users or small groups composed of team members who only need to manage one or two simple projects at any given point in time. They are also quite helpful when short development cycles are needed from earlier stages onward (such as when starting out with an idea). Because Kanban boards leave room for less planning ahead and rely more heavily on current status updates, they are useful for preventing procrastination.

What is Scrum?

scrum board

Scrum, also known as Scrum Framework, is a framework for Agile software development. It consists of rules and roles for performing the work of the software development process, including product backlog management, sprints and stand-ups.

Scrum Process

Scrum is based around two simple concepts: “the sprint” and “the backlog”. The sprint describes how work is broken down into manageable chunks (called user stories), while the backlog describes all potential work that may need to be done in the future. The concept of backlogs, prioritisation, and detailed planning are key parts of Scrum; these elements are usually not present in other types of task management methods like the Waterfall method.

Scrum Team Roles

Scrum relies on several roles and concepts:

Product Owner: The product owner role represents the voice of the customer. They are responsible for generating and prioritising product backlog items and ensuring that they are clear to the entire team. The product owner may be one person, such as a manager or executive, or it may be a group of people, such as a project management office (PMO) or cross-functional team.

Scrum Master: The Scrum master acts as a coach by providing support, facilitation, and training to help Scrum teams deliver value continuously. This includes ensuring transparency within the team; removing any bottlenecks or impediments during daily stand-up meetings; helping team members identify areas that need improvement; solving cross-team issues; helping create estimates during sprint planning; facilitating sprint review meetings; identifying potential risks before each release; updating progress reports for senior management or other stakeholders interested in keeping track of how things are going. If you wish to become a Scrum Master yourself, take a look at the Institute's PSM Scrum Master course.

kanban vs agile

Development Team: This group of people produces working software every two weeks during each sprint. They are responsible for implementing features identified by the product owner through user stories during each sprint planning meeting. Developers can self-organise within their teams based on their abilities and experience levels without having someone assigned as their manager—this helps increase productivity compared with more traditional models where developers work at different rates depending on how good they are at managing themselves.

Key Metrics

1. Sprint Burndown: These are charts that show how many hours remain until a project is completed; this helps with planning so that there are no surprises at the end of a project when important tasks are not completed on time. Even if it takes more than one sprint to finish a project, you are able to see how much work has been completed and where you stand as far as goals (i.e., number of story points).

2. Actual vs. Completed Story Points: A project manager will use actual story point estimates at the end of each sprint meeting (or iteration planning meeting) along with completed story points from previous meetings in order to calculate percentage completion towards overall release goals (or product backlog items). This will help identify if each release or product backlog item has been over-scoped and whether additional resources are needed or if scope needs to be reduced in order to achieve original objectives on time.

3. Team Velocity: The total number of story points finished per iteration divided by the number of people on your team. For example, if you finish twenty story points in a sprint, your team's velocity is five per week. The goal here is to show consistent increases in velocity so that you can scale up to much larger projects and challenges eventually.

4. Scrum Retrospective Process Improvement: Retrospectives are an important part of Scrum because they allow teams to inspect how they're doing so that they can improve upon their practices over time. Teams should have several different types of retrospectives depending on what stage of the process they're currently in (planning, coding/development, or testing). By continuously inspecting their processes and sharing that information with others, teams can ensure that their processes become more efficient over time.

Change Philosophy

In Scrum, once the process begins, nothing else can happen in the product life cycle except for those deviations that the team agrees to in the Sprint Retrospective meeting. For example, if a problem arises during the course of a Sprint and there are not enough people to fix it because of some external responsibility that must be dealt with immediately but has nothing to do with development or testing of the product, then this will have to wait until after the current Sprint is completed. This may seem extreme at first—even rigid—but remember that this is intentional: every time a change (in whatever form) gets made to a project after it begins, there is always risk involved and it always impacts time.

By keeping things moving forward at an even and constant pace (and not allowing changes or distractions), one can safely say that any risk associated with making changes was mitigated as much as possible.

What is a Kanban?

Kanban board

Kanban is a software development methodology that is based on the idea of incremental change and continuous improvement. It is commonly used by software developers, but has also found success with other professionals as well, especially in creative fields.

Kanban Process

The Kanban methodology works by setting relevant metrics and goals to make sure that production processes are under control. The system is designed so that work flows smoothly and the necessary materials are always available to complete tasks, which can improve efficiency.

A Kanban method has three key components: A Kanban board placed on the wall of a workplace; cards posted on the board for each item being produced; and a pull system, where workers only start producing work items when cards are pulled from the board by other team members.

Kanban Team roles

Kanban is based on the idea that people are at the core of everything we do. One of the most important things to understand when you are working with Kanban method is that it does not have any roles (like Scrum Master or Product owner), nor does it prescribe specific tasks for people to perform. Instead, it is up to the people in your organisation to decide what roles they want and need. In other words, Kanban puts people first and encourages them to work together as self-organising teams.

Key Metrics

1. Burndown Chart: This chart is used to track the amount of work completed in a specific time frame (often day-by-day). It is great for keeping an eye on how much work is getting done and for planning ahead for future projects.

2. Lead and Cycle Time Chart: Lead time is how long it takes to finish an item after it has been requested, while cycle time is how long it takes to finish that same item once the cycle has started. These figures are useful not only as part of an overall productivity assessment, but also as a way to gauge employee efficiency.

3. Cumulative Flow Chart: The cumulative flow diagram shows how many tasks are being finished in different stages of completion over time. It can provide insight into the relative sizes of your workflow stage queues, which can help you identify bottlenecks or inefficient flow of work.

Change Philosophy

Change is a necessary part of any project. In Kanban, once the team has established their initial workflow, they can expect that there will be some changes along the way. During the process, new obstacles will arise and unexpected opportunities will present themselves. Flexibility is key to responding quickly and efficiently to these new challenges. In Kanban, it is easy to make small changes to your system when necessary—the overall structure of the process remains intact while the project details are adapted as needed.

Kanban vs Scrum: Pros and Cons

kanban vs scrum pros and cons

Kanban and Scrum are two of the most widely used Agile methodologies. They share the same overall purpose, which is to help teams deliver value faster. But each also has some important pros and cons which must be considered before deciding which methodology to use.

Kanban

Pros

  • A clearer overview of work, making it easier to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
  •  Greater visibility into the status and progress of a project.
  • The ability to track quick iterations in a fast paced environment.
  • Easy to implement as it does not require a complete overhaul of your existing processes.

Cons

  • It can be difficult at first to understand the principles of Kanban, so it might take some time for your team members to get the hang of it.
  • Kanban is a visual management method. You will need to invest in software, whiteboards, and other tools in order to make Kanban boards work.
  • The Kanban process can actually take more time than other project management techniques.
  • There is no framework or milestones built into Kanban, so your project team must create one on their own. If they do not know how, they will not be able to measure progress or see if they are on track or behind schedule.

Scrum

Pros

  • It gives the development team a level of freedom that many have not experienced before.
  • Constant communication within the team and with other stakeholders means there are no surprises at the end of a Scrum project.
  • Since it is based on iterative processes, Scrum allows for changes to be made after each iteration.
  • Scrum allows Scrum teams to inspect and adapt everything they do, including their products, processes, and tools.

Cons

  • The overhead of having to deal with new roles and processes may be too great, especially for small teams.
  • Daily Scrum meetings and constant communication can lead to distractions and interruptions, which are known to hurt productivity.
  • Scrum is only one framework, so it has limited ability to scale well beyond its core assumptions.
  • The most important decisions involving a project are often made outside the development cycle, so developers are not always able to make informed decisions about their work.

When to use Kanban?

Kanban methodology is ideal for when you want to add Agile values and practices without making a huge commitment to an entirely new system. It gives each person more flexibility on what they work on and when. Kanban's flexible approach is based around a visual board that tracks work-in-progress (WIP), which limits the amount of work being actively worked on at any given time to keep distractions down, focus up, and prevent handoffs from occurring too soon (which can cause delay).

When to use Scrum?

The Scrum Framework is a practice that was developed to manage complicated or complex projects. It focuses on flexibility, teamwork, and the creation of feedback loops. This framework can be used to break down obstacles, identify problems, and create solutions more efficiently than other project management systems. However, these positive aspects of Scrum can also be used against it if you are not careful.

Scrum is often used in software development because digital products are typically multifaceted and need frequent updates. The requirements for digital products are constantly changing as new features are added or bugs are found and fixed. The developers working on these projects need to be able to work quickly while still producing high-quality work in order to meet consumer demands for new features and bug fixes.                      

Kanban vs Scrum: Which method is best for you?

If your team needs a simple, visual framework for managing projects, Kanban might be the right choice. Kanban methodology is an easy system to implement and can be used for any type of work, from assembling a car to writing a book. Because it is not prescriptive, people tend to adapt Kanban in ways that are organic and effective for them.

Scrum is more structured and has its own terminology: sprints, scrum teams, backlogs, velocity, stand-ups, etc. It requires more discipline and commitment from everyone involved and is best for projects with smaller teams. If you are looking for a system that is flexible yet still provides some structure, Scrumban is worth looking into. This hybrid method combines the best of Kanban and Scrum; it takes the simplicity from Kanban and merges it with Scrum's sequential nature.