Organizations are always looking for ways to optimize their workflow and ensure productivity is at its peak. Two methods of choice nowadays are Scrum and Kanban.
What is Scrum and Kanban? Both Scrum and Kanban are Agile frameworks for project management. Scrum is mainly a software development method that helps teams deliver projects of any size on time, budget, and quality. Kanban is a visual tool for project management, with columns representing work to be done, work in progress and completed work.
While Kanban and Scrum have some things in common, they’re also quite different in their use. We’ll look at what is Scrum and Kanban to make an informed choice of when to use scrum and when to use Kanban.
What’s Agile Software Development?
Before we get into Kanban Vs Scrum, let’s understand what Agile means in the world of software development. Agile is an iterative, incremental approach to software development. The key concepts behind Agile are:
- Collaboration among all the people involved in a project
- Quality over quantity
- Working software, with an emphasis on shorter, more frequent releases rather than long-term planning
- Adapting the process to your audience, listening to what they have to say and responding appropriately
Whatever the difference between Scrum and Kanban, both methods grew out of this approach.
To understand the difference between Scrum and Kanban, we need to first break down each of the methods.
Scrum is a framework for developing and sustaining complex products. It comprises a set of interrelated practices, called the Scrum framework. These practices ensure Scrum teams always deliver high-quality software on time. Some of the key features of Scrum are:
- It relies on sprints. A sprint is a short (usually two to four weeks) development cycle, during which they achieve a goal. Sprints help minimize risk and uncertainty in the project. The sprints enable teams to track progress
- Items are pulled from a list of tasks and they’re completed in the course of a sprint. During this sprint, the team only works on these tasks and no others
- Scrum has four ceremonies: sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review and sprint retrospective. The ceremonies help teams ensure all tasks are completed on time and blockages are identified early
- Scrum teams are cross-functional
- Scrum has several roles that help teams complete tasks. Each role has specific responsibilities, and all roles are essential for effective Scrum implementation. These are:
1. Product Owner:
The owner writes user stories, does capacity planning, manages the product backlog, decides what features will go into the next sprint or release.
2. Scrum Master:
The Scrum master guides the team through Scrum meetings. The Scrum Master also ensures that team members perform their roles effectively.
The team develops a clear understanding of user stories, determines how much to work on each story, and ensures the team follows the Scrum process.
Now that we’ve explained how Scrum works, let’s look at Kanban, so it’s possible to weigh the benefits of kanban vs scrum.
Is kanban better than scrum? That depends on the needs of the teams.
Kanban means signboard in Japanese. Kanban is a process for improving productivity by simplifying work processes and facilitating balanced production. It’s a visual tool for project management with columns representing work to be done, work in progress, completed work or ‘done’. It helps teams of any size to manage their processes. Here are some features of Kanban:
- Kanban is a continuous process of project management. It’s about how to control the flow of work and information within a team
- Kanban works like a web, with several cards of work flowing from left to right across the columns. Items are moved from one column to another—from to-do, to work in progress to done
- Kanban encourages self-organization through visual display and simple limit signs on cards
- Limiting the to-do list is the focus of Kanban, where you set limits on both the number of tasks in-progress and the amount of work in progress. By limiting the tasks in any phase, it ensures work is completed with maximum efficiency
- The Kanban method helps teams manage and optimize their workflow. When one column is empty, another task is pulled in for completion
The Kanban method is frequently used outside the sphere of software development. Its ease of use means it’s been adopted widely by professionals in other industries as well. It can also be used with other productivity techniques. In fact, it’s sometimes used by Scrum practitioners.
Kanban Vs Scrum
Now that we’ve defined what is scrum and Kanban, it’s time to look at some similarities between scrum and kanban:
- Scrum and Kanban both encourage planning that can help make better decisions
- Both Scrum and Kanban are Agile methodologies. This means they’re focused on limiting waste
- The timeboxed approach to tasks is one of the fundamental similarities between scrum and kanban
- They’re both pull methods, with different signals for moving tasks from commission to completion
- Scrum and Kanban both have a list of roles that help teams to complete tasks that have been broken into smaller segments
- Scrum and Kanban both promote self-organization through visual display
- The emphasis on people instead of processes makes both Scrum and Kanban human-centric. The practices enable teams to respond to changes flexibly
- The goal is to increase team productivity through improved learning, higher quality and faster delivery. This approach focuses on continuous improvement as opposed to the view of project management as a definitive process with a beginning and endpoint
Hopefully, this information on the similarities between scrum and kanban can help settle the question: Is kanban better than scrum? If not, here’s a look at the differences to make it clearer.
Difference Between Scrum And Kanban
Despite the similarities between these processes, there are significant differences too that might make one method better for a project or team. Here are the key points to note:
- The major difference between scrum and Kanban is that, in Kanban, you can add new tasks at any time to the workflow. It’s a continuous process. In Scrum, the team has to work on tasks in a fixed order. It’s a cyclical process. A Scrum process needs to be completed for more items to be added to the backlog
- Another difference between Kanban and Scrum is that in Kanban, the team defines its own process. It’s very flexible. But without a clearly defined process, iteration length and deliverables, teams have to figure out how to implement Kanban for themselves
- Scrum also emphasizes self-organization. However, Scrum doesn’t give the team complete control over their work. It defines a set of standardized roles essential for effective Scrum implementation
- In Scrum, we define productivity by how fast a team can complete a sprint. Kanban focuses on clearing all tasks from the system, moving it through the workflow from the to-do list to the done column
Either tool can help teams produce their best work. It’s knowing what works, given the team and workplace dynamics.
Is Kanban Better Than Scrum?
Kanban vs Scrum isn’t always an either/or decision, but a both/and.
Understanding the difference between scrum and Kanban might help choose one over the other, but it might also show that it’s possible to use both in an organization depending on the needs of the project. To decide when to use scrum and when to use Kanban on a project, consider these differences in more detail:
1. Flexible Or Defined
Kanban is often more flexible than Scrum. It allows for more changes and ad hoc modifications as the project progresses. Scrum, however, is less flexible because it follows a pre-defined workflow. It’s better for predictable projects where teams know exactly what they need to do and would work according to a strict schedule.
2. Project Parameters
Kanban can apply to virtually any kind of project as opposed to Scrum, which is specifically designed for projects that are difficult to plan with accuracy but can be delivered with high quality on time.
3. Working Style
Kanban is less prescriptive in terms of tools and practices. It encourages spontaneity in managing workflow, whereas Scrum has a pre-defined process and roles. Kanban allows teams to change their process continuously, while Scrum does not support this.
Kanban is often used in conjunction with Scrum, but Scrum isn’t always used with Kanban. There are cases where you can use both at the same time or in different combinations. Then it’s up to the team to choose when to use scrum and when to use Kanban.
Whether it’s Kanban Vs Scrum or Kanban and Scrum for an organization, mastering methods like these will help teams work more effectively. That’s what’s at the heart of Harappa’s Executing Solution’s course. It’ll help managers maximize efficiency, to delegate and manage projects till completion. Professionals in any field can learn frameworks and tools to implement projects, complete deliverables and manage crises. With Harappa’s transformative courses, every team can work at its best.