According to PMI, in a recent study, 46% of surveyed organizations use or have used an Agile or hybrid Agile approach over the course of the last 12 months. The Agile framework sets itself apart from traditional methodologies due to its flexible and iterative approach that leads to efficient workflow, and timely project completion, with mitigated bottlenecks and roadblocks.
Although Agile comprises a number of approaches, each holding its own importance in different environments, these approaches are often misinterpreted or confused with each other.
In this post, we attempt to clarify common misunderstandings related to Kanban vs Scrum.
Both Scrum and Kanban are Agile approaches designed and developed for streamlining workflow and team collaboration for optimum results. Agile, as opposed to the more conventional Waterfall approach, gives more flexibility and follows a more modular approach, while provisioning for iterations as the project team goes along.
Although both of these approaches have been incorporated in project management and other industries as well, they remain significantly in use by the software industry.
You can gauge the popularity of Agile in the software industry through the findings from a survey by Stack Overflow, which discloses that 85.9% of 101,592 international surveyed software developers use Agile in their work.
Let’s have a deeper look at the different characteristics of Kanban vs Scrum and vice versa.
What are Scrum Boards?
Scrum boards are a type of project management tool that helps teams track and visualize their progress on tasks. They typically consist of a physical board with columns for each stage of the task, and cards representing each individual task. Scrum boards can be used for any type of project, but they are particularly helpful for agile or scrum-based projects.
Types of Scrum Boards
There are three types of Scrum boards: physical, virtual, and hybrid.
- Physical scrum boards are the traditional whiteboards that most people think of when they think of a scrum board. They can be very helpful in creating a shared space for the team to visualize their work and progress. However, they can also be expensive and require a lot of maintenance.
- Virtual scrum boards are web-based applications that provide many of the same features as physical scrum boards. They can be accessed from anywhere, which can be helpful for distributed teams. They can also be less expensive than physical scrum boards and easier to maintain.
- Hybrid scrum boards are a combination of physical and virtual scrum boards. They typically have a physical board that is used for face-to-face sprint planning and reviews, while the virtual board is used for everyday task management. This can be a good option for teams that want the benefits of both types of scrum boards.
Features of Scrum boards
Here are some of the features of scrum boards:
- Visual representation: Scrum boards provide a visual representation of work tasks across the project and can be used to give a clear overview of progress in an easy-to-understand way.
- Prioritization: The board makes it easy to prioritize tasks, allowing teams to focus on the most important items first.
- Flexible: With Scrum boards, you can easily adjust and re-prioritize tasks as the project progresses.
- Real-time collaboration: Team members can collaborate in real-time on the same board, making communication and decision-making quicker.
- Auditability: Boards allow for full auditing of changes and decisions made throughout the project, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
When to Use Scrum?
Scrum has been ever-growing in popularity over the years and has captured the attention of thousands of professionals. According to a survey by Scrum Alliance involving about 5000 people, the overall success rate of projects delivered using Scrum is 62%.
Scrum is an ideal Agile approach for projects that require streamlining from ideation to implementation. You can establish a complete project implementation plan by devising team roles and allotting intervals to be used as milestones. The team stays in sync with the customers and management throughout the development process.
The best scrum tools:
The Best Scrum Tools of 2023 for Agile Project Management
What are Kanban boards?
A Kanban board is a project management tool that helps teams visualize their work and track progress. Kanban boards can be used for any type of project, but they are particularly well-suited for agile or lean projects.
Kanban boards help team members see what work needs to be done and who is working on what. They can also be used to track progress and identify bottlenecks. When used correctly, Kanban boards can improve team collaboration and help teams deliver projects on time and within budget.
Types Of Kanban Boards
There are two types of Kanban boards: the personal Kanban board and the team Kanban board.
The personal Kanban board is used to manage one’s own work, whereas the team Kanban board is used to manage the work of a team. Each type of Kanban board has its own advantages and disadvantages.
The personal Kanban board is great for managing one’s own work because it gives a clear overview of all the tasks that need to be done. It is also easy to keep track of progress and see what needs to be done next. However, personal Kanban boards can become cluttered and overwhelming if there are too many tasks on them.
Team Kanban boards are great for managing teamwork because they allow everyone to see what everyone else is working on. This transparency helps to avoid duplication of effort and ensures that everyone is aware of deadlines. Team Kanban boards can also be helpful in identifying bottlenecks in the workflow. However, team Kanban boards can be difficult to set up and maintain if there are too many people on the team.
Features of Kanban boards
There are many features that make Kanban boards an attractive option for project management, including their ability to:
- Help you visualize your work: Kanban boards make it easy to see what work needs to be done and who is working on what. This can help you better plan and prioritize your work.
- Limit work in progress: One of the key principles of kanban is limiting work in progress (WIP). This helps prevent bottlenecks and ensures that work is getting done efficiently.
- Help you track progress: Kanban boards can help you track the progress of your work so you can see how close you are to completing your project.
- Be flexible: Kanban boards are very flexible and can be customized to fit your specific needs.
When to Use Kanban?
Kanban, too, has been proven to show incredible improvements in project development cycles. According to a research paper by Peter Middletone and David Joyce, using Kanban in software development has been shown to improve lead-time for software delivery by 37%, resulting in rising consistency of delivery by 47%, and defects reported by customers fell by 24% compared to the previously used agile methodology.
Kanban is a more preferred approach in project development cycles that require continuous improvement in gradual increments. Focusing around the Kanban board, this approach helps teams have a visual idea of what is going on in the project and what is next to come.
You can have an entire project plan laid out and apply the Kanban approach to ensure the team is on the same page and that tasks are being completed on time.
Scrum Team Roles and Responsibilities
The Scrum approach revolves around 3 main roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development team. The Product Owner is responsible for defining and finalizing a list of tasks to be completed in a given time interval (Sprint).
This list of activities is known as Product Backlog. The Scrum Master facilitates the Scrum team in multiple ways.
The Scrum Master assists the Product Owner and the Development team in understanding the requirements for carrying out the Scrum approach. S/he makes sure the team is adhering to the specified rules and policies necessary for project completion and removing any ambiguities between the Product Owner and the Development team.
The Development team is the set of individuals that work on a specific project. These individuals may include programmers, testers, or business analysts.
Team Roles in Kanban:
The Kanban method does not specify any team roles. No individual is responsible for any stage of the project development or accountable for the performance of any team.
Instead, the team collectively works toward project completion by completing tasks assigned to different team members. Identifying issues or problems, sharing task status or changes to be made are displayed by the assigned individuals on the Kanban board.
How are the Iterations Established?
In Scrum, work is broken down into different sections called User Story. The Product Owner discusses the customer requirements on priority and the milestones to be covered in a certain time. Each User Story is translated into a Product Backlog by the Product Owner.
Each Product Backlog comprises a list of tasks and activities to be completed in a given time interval. This time interval, also known as the Sprint, can be anywhere between seven days to a month or even two months, depending on the requirements of the customer and project work patterns.
While working on the Product Backlog, the team holds a daily, stand-up meeting, known as the Daily Scrum. In the Daily Scrum, the team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master highlight the work under process including the tasks to be completed, the completed tasks and any bottlenecks encountered during the process.
The Daily Scrum helps in keeping the work clear and transparent. It also allows for timely identification of problems incurring so that they can be resolved on time. In certain cases, it is recommended that management and customers be a part of the Daily Scrum so that the project progress stays in sight.
In Kanban, the work is broken down into smaller sections and displayed on a Kanban board. The Kanban board is visible and accessible to the entire team. The Kanban board exhibits each element of the work being done in the form of columns. These columns can depict the stages of the workflow i.e. Progress, Testing, Ready for Release, and Release, or be defined as To Do, In Progress, In Review, Blocked, and Done. This demonstrates exactly where the project lies in the project development timeline.
Check out our list of best to-do list apps.
Also, to measure the task completion cycle, Kanban makes use of Work in Progress (WIP). Through WIP, a limit is predefined pertaining to how many tasks can be listed under that specific status. At any point in time, the number of tasks listed on the Kanban board cannot go beyond the defined limit.
Instead, the tasks listed earlier need to be worked on and completed. This is particularly useful to avoid having too many tasks in under a certain status, which may affect the workflow. The team is required to finish the pending items before addressing the new ones.
Learn more about the Agile Iterative Approach here.
Kanban and Scrum Features
When it comes to Scrum vs Kanban, here is a summary of the salient features you can avail:
|Purpose||Planning to delivery||Consistent improvement|
|Task Presentations||User Stories/Product Backlogs||Columns or Kanban Cards|
|Iterations||Fixed length sprints||Continuous flow|
|Activity Completion||End of Sprint (depending on Product Owner’s approval)||Continuous delivery (depending on the team)|
|Team Roles||Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team||No specified roles|
|Metrics||Velocity is key. Burndown charts depict the work completion status||Lead time and Cycle time. Use of Cumulative Flow Diagrams (CFD), Cycle time histograms, etc.|
Kanban or Scrum? Which One to Use?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to Agile frameworks. It is important to understand the type of organization, the team, and the project category before identifying and adopting a suitable project development approach.
A key difference you can keep in mind while assessing Scrum vs Kanban for your project and team requirements maybe if you need a more structured approach and the customer is specific about the requirements from beginning to end, Scrum seems to be a more likely option.
However, if the pattern is not fixed and the customer is flexible as long as the product is being improved continuously, Kanban may be your thing.
If unsure, you can attempt to understand both approaches and carry out an experiment with small, non-critical projects. This will help you better assess which approach gives you more value and helps you reach your project goals faster and more efficiently.
As mentioned above, you can even look into a “Scrumban” approach – which I’ll discuss shortly – that allows you to combine aspects of both these methodologies and you can customize it according to requirements.
Scrum + Kanban = Scrumban?
Despite focusing on different elements in the software development life cycle, Scrum and Kanban share similarities in a few ways. First of all, both Scrum and Kanban help in making work more manageable by breaking it down into smaller sections.
This is especially useful while undertaking complex and large-scale tasks and projects on the enterprise level. Secondly, both these approaches facilitate and optimize team communication and collaboration by keeping work transparent and easily monitored.
Plus, by implementing these approaches, teams can identify issues and risks, continuously work on improvements and accommodate changes without incurring high costs, and without jeopardizing the project’s progress.
In fact, there is an approach termed Scrumban that combines specific entities in both methodologies for project implementation, problem-solving, and improvements. In fact, a study by Scrum Alliance states that 43% of professionals combine Scrum with Kanban.
Which tools can I use?
It would be unfair to explain the two methods at length and at the end of the write-up without mentioning the tools you can use for each.
Advancement in technology has seen an exponential increase in software for businesses. Did you know there are over 250+ tools for project management alone?
This humongous number is due to the increased importance of automation tools in the market. No company can survive without harnessing the power of this amazing PM software.
Some of the programs use Scrum while others prefer Kanban boards. This makes the Scrum vs Kanban debate all the more complex.
But fret not, we have done the digging for you. Here are the top programs you can use for Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban:
Some of the task and project management tools that can help you easily incorporate Scrum into your workflow include:
- OrangeScrum and more
nTask and Asana are big names in the project management sector. The reason behind their use of Scrum to help companies collaborate is the increased success rates of projects.
You can adapt Kanban into your work pattern with software tools including:
- nTask Boards
- Kanban Flow
- Planview Leankit
- Zenhub and more.
Just like nTask and Asana, Trello is a hugely popular tool for small teams. Its interactive interface consists of ‘cards’ based on the Kanban methodology. Small and medium-sized teams prefer this tool because it combines the fun of doing work with efficient results.
Using nTask for Kanban
nTask is an incredible project management and time management software that allows you to manage all of the tasks and processes connected to your project development process.
The software has an amazing Kanban Board feature that allows you to view all of your tasks so that you can better manage your workflow as you want.
Some of the other features that the software has to offer are:
- Multiple board views
- Public links
- Due date tracking
- Task color codes and background image
- Project cloning
- Activity management
- Task assignment
- Calendar management
- File sharing
- Meeting management
- Resource planning
Simpler Kanban App for Smart teams, nTask!
Workspaces, multiple boards, Gantt charts, custom status and a lot more.
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And then there’s the hybrid method. Scrumban has proved to be a very effective solution to project management. Besides, if you already have two excellent methods available, wouldn’t it be desirable to have the best of both worlds?
If you want to work with a hybrid approach that combines Scrum and Kanban, you can look into tools designed to help you implement Scrumban, such as:
- Kanban Tool
- SwiftKanban, and more.
Does Kanban have daily standups?
Kanban does not have the same strict structure as Scrum and therefore does not require daily standups. However, many Kanban teams find it helpful to have a daily check-in to review progress and ensure that everyone is on track. This can be a very informal meeting and can be done via chat or video call if preferred.
Can Kanban have Sprints?
Kanban and Scrum are two popular project management methodologies. Both have their pros and cons, but which one is better for your team?
One key difference between Kanban and Scrum is the use of sprints. Scrum teams typically work in sprints, or time-boxed periods, where they plan, execute and review their work. Kanban teams, on the other hand, do not use sprints. Instead, they focus on the continuous delivery of work.
So, can Kanban teams have sprints? The answer is yes! While Kanban doesn’t typically use sprints, there’s no reason why a Kanban team couldn’t decide to use them if it made sense for their project. For example, a Kanban team might want to use sprints if they were working on a time-sensitive project with strict deadlines.
Is Kanban a Six Sigma Approach?
Six Sigma is a methodology that focuses on reducing defects and increasing efficiency in all aspects of a business. As such, it can be seen as complementary to the Kanban approach.
Kanban can help Six Sigma projects by providing visibility into the work that needs to be done and by helping to track progress. In addition, the Kanban Methodology has been shown to be effective in reducing waste and improving quality in manufacturing processes.
When to use Kanban vs Scrum?
There are a few key differences between Kanban and Scrum that you should take into account when deciding which project management style is right for your team.
Kanban is best suited for teams that have a clear understanding of their workflow and do not need to make major changes to the way they work. It is also a good choice for teams that prefer to work in a more flexible, ad-hoc fashion.
Scrum, on the other hand, is better suited for teams that need to make significant changes to the way they work or who are just starting out using a project management style. Scrum is also better for projects that need to be completed in a short amount of time.
Which Agile methodology do you use and recommend for project development cycles when it comes to Scrum vs Kanban? Let us know in the comments below.
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