Scrum vs. Kanban: 10 Key Differences
What is Agile?
Agile project management and product development provide a flexible and collaborative approach. It prioritizes iterative progress, customer feedback, and the ability to adapt to change. Two widely recognized methodologies within the Agile framework are Scrum and Kanban. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the distinctive features of Scrum and Kanban, guiding you to determine which one suits your team and project requirements better.
Why Use Scrum?
Scrum is a method within the Agile framework that emphasizes collaboration, openness, and the production of a functional product piece by piece at the conclusion of each iteration called a sprint. It is particularly effective for intricate projects where requirements might shift throughout development, providing a systematic approach to managing those changes.
Why Use Kanban?
In contrast, Kanban is a visual system that helps teams manage their workflow effectively. It offers real-time visibility into work items as they progress through different stages of the process. Kanban is particularly beneficial for teams seeking to enhance their workflow and constantly refine their processes.
Scrum is a structured framework that includes roles, events, and artifacts. The framework is outlined in detail in the Scrum Guide, written by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.
The roles in Scrum are well-defined:
- The Scrum Master: This role is crucial in facilitating the Scrum process and ensuring that the team strictly follows the principles of Scrum.
- Product Owner: The Product Owner represents the customer and has the responsibility of defining and prioritizing the product backlog.
- Development Team: This is the team of professionals who are responsible for creating and delivering a product increment that can potentially be shipped.
Scrum planning involves:
- In the Sprint Planning meeting, the team comes together to choose a set of backlog items that they will work on during the sprint. This selection is based on the team’s capacity and the prioritized backlog.
Scrum Work Commitment
Scrum teams adhere to a timeframe called a sprint, which usually spans two to four weeks. During this sprint, the team commits to completing a defined set of tasks from their backlog. By having this commitment, it instills a sense of urgency and concentration within the team.
Scrum Meetings and Events
Scrum includes several regular meetings:
- Daily Scrum: A brief meeting held each day where team members gather to provide updates on their progress, discuss any obstacles they may be facing, and plan their tasks for the day.
- Sprint Review: A meeting held at the end of each sprint where stakeholders are given a demonstration of the work that has been completed.
- Sprint Retrospective: This is a meeting where the team reflects on the previous sprint, discussing both the successes and areas for improvement to better inform the next sprint.
Scrum Software Solutions
Scrum teams have a variety of software tools at their disposal, including Jira and Trello, which help with backlog management, sprint tracking, and reporting. These tools offer a digital representation of the Scrum board.
Scrum Tracking and Analyzing Work in Progress
In Scrum teams, there are two important tools for tracking and analyzing work progress: burndown charts and velocity metrics. Burndown charts visually display the remaining work to be done in a sprint, while velocity metrics help the team estimate how much work they can tackle in future sprints.
Scrum Work Estimation
In Scrum teams, it is common practice to use estimation techniques like story points to determine the effort needed for backlog items. This allows for better prioritization and effective work planning.
Kanban utilizes visual boards that contain columns representing different stages of work. As work items advance through the workflow, they move from left to right on the board. This allows teams to have a clear view of the entire flow of work, making any bottlenecks or inefficiencies more visible and easier to address.
Kanban Roles and Accountabilities
In contrast to Scrum, Kanban does not dictate specific roles. Instead, teams who use Kanban have the freedom to define roles according to their specific needs and structure. This flexibility allows Kanban to be adaptable in different team environments.
Kanban emphasizes a constant flow of work, with no set time limits or iterations. Instead, work is pulled as capacity allows, allowing for greater flexibility in adapting to changing priorities without the limitations of sprint boundaries.
Kanban Work Commitment
In a Kanban team, there are no rigid commitments or fixed tasks. The team has the flexibility to adjust priorities and work on tasks as they arise, making it highly suitable for teams with unpredictable workloads.
Kanban Meetings and Events
Unlike Scrum, Kanban does not have prescribed events. However, teams utilizing Kanban may choose to hold regular meetings to discuss the progress of their work and identify areas for improvement. These meetings can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the team.
Kanban Software Solutions
Kanban software tools like Trello and Kanbanize are specifically created to help with visualizing the workflow, setting limits for work-in-progress (WIP), and tracking cycle times. These digital tools offer a virtual representation of the Kanban board.
Kanban Tracking and Analyzing Work in Progress
Kanban evaluates the duration of completing individual tasks, known as cycle time. Through analyzing cycle times and setting limits on work in progress (WIP), teams can optimize their workflow and pinpoint opportunities for enhancement.
Kanban Work Estimation
In Kanban, there is typically no need for estimating work items using techniques like story points. The main focus is on optimizing the flow of work to ensure that teams can deliver items as soon as they are completed.
Differences Between Scrum and Kanban
Scrum vs. Kanban: Roles and Accountabilities
Scrum outlines distinct roles for team members, including the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team. On the other hand, Kanban allows teams to define their own roles based on their specific requirements. This adaptability can be beneficial in organizations that have diverse team structures.
Scrum vs. Kanban: Planning
Scrum utilizes fixed-length sprints and sprint planning to provide a structured approach to work. On the other hand, Kanban emphasizes continuous flow and does not require fixed iterations, allowing for greater adaptability in dynamic environments.
Scrum vs. Kanban: Work Commitment
In Scrum, teams commit to completing a specific set of backlog items within a sprint, which creates a sense of dedication and urgency. On the other hand, Kanban teams do not have fixed commitments and can adapt to changing priorities and workloads.
Scrum vs. Kanban: Core Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
In Scrum, progress within a sprint is measured primarily using velocity and burndown charts. On the other hand, Kanban focuses on measuring and optimizing workflow through cycle time and WIP limits. This makes Kanban more ideal for organizations that are seeking ongoing process efficiency improvements.
Scrum vs. Kanban: Meetings and Events
Scrum includes specific meetings (such as the Daily Scrum and Sprint Review) to create a structured communication rhythm. On the other hand, Kanban promotes holding meetings whenever necessary, allowing for flexibility in the frequency of communication.
Scrum vs. Kanban: Software Solutions
Specialized software tools are available for both Scrum and Kanban methodologies. Scrum-focused tools typically provide features like sprint planning and burndown charts, allowing teams to effectively plan and track their progress. On the other hand, Kanban tools prioritize visualizing workflows and managing work in progress (WIP) limits, helping teams streamline their processes for improved efficiency.
Scrum vs. Kanban: Tracking and Analyzing Work in Progress
In Scrum, the progress of work within a sprint is tracked primarily using burndown charts. On the other hand, Kanban focuses on optimizing the flow of work by continuously monitoring cycle time and setting limits on work in progress (WIP).
Scrum vs. Kanban: Work Estimation
In Scrum, work items are often estimated using story points or similar techniques. On the other hand, Kanban typically doesn’t involve formal estimation.
Scrum vs. Kanban: Continuous Improvement
Both Scrum and Kanban prioritize continuous improvement, but Kanban is especially beneficial for organizations seeking to optimize their processes by visualizing the workflow and utilizing cycle time metrics.
Which One is Right for You?
Choosing between Scrum and Kanban depends on factors such as team preferences, project type, and desired level of structure. Scrum is well-suited for projects with evolving requirements and defined iterations, whereas Kanban is highly effective in optimizing ongoing workflows.
Can Scrum and Kanban Be Used Together?
Absolutely! There are teams that adopt a hybrid approach called “Scrumban,” which combines elements of Scrum and Kanban. This approach allows teams to take advantage of both methodologies, utilizing the structured framework of Scrum along with the continuous flow principles of Kanban.
To effectively manage Agile projects, it is important to have a clear understanding of the distinctions between Scrum and Kanban. When selecting the appropriate methodology for your team, project requirements, preferences, and needs must all be taken into consideration. Keep in mind that the Agile framework encourages flexibility and adaptation, so feel free to make adjustments to your approach as you gain knowledge and experience.
1. What is the difference between Scrum and Kanban?
Scrum and Kanban are both Agile methodologies but have distinct approaches. Scrum is a structured framework with fixed-length sprints, defined roles (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development Team), and specific meetings (Daily Scrum, Sprint Review). Kanban, on the other hand, emphasizes continuous flow, allows teams to define their own roles, and does not prescribe fixed iterations. Teams using Scrum commit to completing backlog items within sprints, while Kanban teams have more flexibility in adapting to changing priorities and workloads.
2. Can Scrum and Kanban be used together?
Yes, teams can adopt a hybrid approach called “Scrumban” to combine elements of both Scrum and Kanban. This approach allows teams to leverage the structured framework of Scrum while incorporating the continuous flow principles of Kanban. It provides greater adaptability for managing evolving project requirements and ongoing workflows.
3. What are the key differences in tracking and analyzing work progress between Scrum and Kanban?
In Scrum, work progress is primarily tracked using burndown charts, which visually display remaining work within a sprint. In contrast, Kanban focuses on optimizing workflow through cycle time analysis and setting limits on work in progress (WIP). Kanban’s emphasis on cycle time metrics allows teams to identify opportunities for improvement in their processes and achieve ongoing efficiency enhancements.