Table of Content
- 1. What Is Scrum?
- 2. What Is Kanban?
- 3. What Are the Key Differences Between Scrum and Kanban?
- 4. What Are the Advantages of Scrum?
- 5. What Are the Disadvantages of Scrum?
- 6. What Are the Advantages of Kanban?
- 7. What Are the Disadvantages of Kanban?
- 8. Which Framework Is the Best for Your Organization?
- 9. Conclusion
In product development and software development, scrum and kanban are two of the most popular agile methodologies.
Each has its own set of benefits that make it a good choice for different companies.
In this blog post, we will explore each methodology in-depth with an overview of their differences. We'll also cover some ways to decide which one is best for your organization.
What Is Scrum?
Scrum is an agile framework that uses time-boxed sprints.
It was developed in the early 1990s by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, who co-founded Scrum Alliance. The first official scrum training course was offered at OOPSLA 95 Conference which led to its widespread adoption across software development companies around the world.
The main focus of scrum is to help teams deliver products in short sprints (typically lasting one to four weeks). There are three roles in scrum: the product owner, the development team, and the scrum master.
The scrum master is responsible for ensuring that daily stand-ups take place without issues.
They also remove any impediments slowing down the development process and protect the development team from interruptions.
Scrum is suitable for teams who are looking for a fast-paced work environment.
Scrum is a great fit for companies with complex projects that involve many moving parts and require multiple stakeholders to collaborate on them, as it brings a structured approach to software development.
Scrum can be successfully used for software development, product management, and operations.
For larger projects where you have limited influence over the final outcome or if your team is not experienced with agile practices, scrum might work better than Kanban.
Kanban gives more flexibility to teams who need it but takes away some of that freedom.
What Is Kanban?
Kanban is an agile framework that uses a pull system (with WIP limits) to manage work-in-progress.
It was originally developed by Toyota in the 1940s and popularized by David Anderson through his book "Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business" in 2010.
Kanban is a way to visualize work items and create limits on the amount of outstanding work that can be happening at any one time while still being able to respond quickly when more capacity is needed, which makes it ideal for knowledge-work environments such as software development teams.
Kanban focuses more heavily on process optimization than scrum does. It optimizes the workflow by reducing the amount of work-in-progress, standardizing tasks, and limiting WIP.
Another important aspect of kanban is that it is a pull system and not a push. This means that work items start with the team, instead of being pushed to them by an external source such as a project manager or product owner.
There are many companies out there who follow scrum but also use kanban principles in their development processes because they find benefits from both methodologies.
In the kanban methodology, you have three core principles: visualize your workflow, limit the work in progress (WIP), and improve collaboratively.
Kanban is often used by teams that are already familiar with scrum or other agile methodologies but need to gain more control over their processes.
Kanban works well for teams who manage products on which they only have limited influence.
Scrum and kanban have different strengths, so it is important for teams to understand this difference before deciding which one they should use in their development process. Some companies may even find that they need to use both agile methodologies.
What Are the Key Differences Between Scrum and Kanban?
Scrum is based on the concept of fixed-length iterations. It includes planning, daily standup meetings, sprint review meetings, and retrospective meetings at the end of each iteration to understand what went well during the last iteration cycle and what can be improved in upcoming iterations.
Scrum focuses on completing a set amount of work within an Iteration which is followed by a retrospective
Kanban is based on the concept of continuous flow to complete work in process (WIP). It includes daily standup meetings, review, and planning sessions, but no sprint planning or end-of-iteration review.
Kanban focuses on reducing WIP rather than completing an iteration cycle within predetermined hours.
Scrum works on fixed time-boxed iterations for one month or two weeks, while there is no such restriction in Kanban.
Scrum uses burndown charts to track the progress of work and identify where scrum teams are spending their efforts.
On the other hand, kanban does not have any specific metrics associated with it as the main objective is to reduce WIP.
While scrum has fixed roles, kanban uses different people for different tasks as they are required.
Scrum teams have three types of meetings - daily stand-up meeting, planning session, and review session which helps the scrum team in coordinating work within themselves and across teams.
On the other hand, kanban has a single-piece flow to optimize the workflow which does not require a detailed estimation process which leads to more accurate forecasting and utilization of time.
In scrum, there is an overall goal that needs to be achieved by the end of each sprint. Developers are involved in all the sprints and they work on a dedicated backlog.
On the contrary, in kanban, each team works on their own goals and evaluates their efficiency at every step using metrics such as lead time and cycle time. It is more task-based rather than scrum's team-based approach.
Scrum is based on the concept of estimation, planning, and tracking whereas kanban doesn’t have estimates or plans but follows a pull-based workflow where work starts only when there are tasks available in the queue. Scrum teams follow certain rules for sizing stories before they start development which is not required in kanban.
Scrum involves sprint planning, daily standup meetings, backlog grooming sessions whereas kanban follows a pull-based methodology which means that teams should focus on completing the tasks from their work board instead of having dedicated backlogs for development.
In scrum, the entire work is divided into sprints and all the tasks are carried out by a single team whereas in kanban each task is handled by different teams.
Scrum implementation requires strict adherence to certain roles, meetings, tools, and artifacts that need to be followed for success while kanban can be customized based on your business needs which means there will not be any specific requirements that you need to adhere to.
Scrum follows a sprints approach where teams focus on short-term goals and complete them before moving to the next one whereas, with kanban, there is no specific time limit for completing tasks which means it can be completed at any point in time making it more flexible compared to scrum.
In scrum, teams work in a peculiar way for delivering the project within time and budget whereas kanban doesn’t have this restriction.
What Are the Advantages of Scrum?
The following are some major advantages to using a scrum methodology:
Better management of resources: Scrum helps in better management of the project's resources. This is because scrum has a well-defined process for managing and making decisions about resource allocation to multiple projects, taking into account the ever-changing priorities at different stages of the product development life cycle.
Higher customer satisfaction: Scrum allows development teams to build products in iterations and offer them early, giving the customers a chance to provide feedback on features as they are built. This helps in getting higher customer satisfaction ratings than organizations that follow traditional waterfall methodologies of product development.
Better focus on the needs of stakeholders and end-users: In scrum methodology, the development teams are focused on building software that meets their end-user’s needs. There is no consideration for other stakeholders such as managers and system administrators.
Reduced time to market for new products or services: Because of the structure and clear goals provided by scrum, development teams are able to get their products or services to market faster.
Better control over quality: The scrum master is responsible for ensuring that everything works as it should in respect to meeting user needs. He ensures that no steps have been skipped during product development so there will be no issues down the road.
What Are Some Disadvantages of Scrum?
The following are some major disadvantages to using a scrum methodology:
Limited flexibility: The scrum methodology has a very precise structure, so there are limited options for changing things on the fly or pivoting direction if necessary. This could be bad in an environment where priorities change frequently and lead to wasted efforts.
More documentation is needed: It's important to note that scrum requires a lot more documentation than Kanban. This could be bad if the team is not very good at writing and/or keeping up with it. It often becomes difficult to keep track of all the things due to several different meet-ups.
There is an initial investment of time and resources when implementing scrum since it's more rigorous: It's important to note that scrum requires a lot more effort at the beginning. This includes making sure all roles are filled, proper training is given and general buy-in from everyone involved in the process.
More overhead since it has so many meetings: For example, there could be issues with having too little work for some team members to do, not having the right number of people on each team, or even bigger problems like staff turnover.
The product backlog is highly susceptible to changing requirements: The development process could be affected by changes in customer needs and market conditions, which can make it difficult for scrum teams to maintain efficiency over time.
What Are the Advantages of Kanban?
The following are some major advantages to using a kanban methodology:
Less planning is required: The process is more flexible and allows for changes to be made easily. This significantly reduces overhead and it is possible to make changes to the product backlog at any time. This allows teams to respond quickly to changes in business requirements.
No bottlenecks occur: The methodology is designed to keep work flowing smoothly through the system. Visualization of the workflow allows teams to identify bottlenecks where work is backing up.
Implementing Kanban may be easier for distributed teams: Since there are fewer documents to review and less process overhead, it is possible that the implementation of a kanban system will go more smoothly when working with geographically dispersed individuals.
Better ability for businesses/teams to achieve a stable pace: A common problem with scrum teams using short iterations (e.g., one week) is that they are constantly changing their stories and tasks which can lead to burnout. This is a point of advantage for kanban because it has no iteration.
Less supervision: Since all team members are focused on delivering the most valuable features, there is less time spent discussing which task needs to be done next. Since team members have complete autonomy over how they perform tasks, there is less of a need for managers or leaders. A higher level of accountability for each person has a high accountability level since work items are prioritized by value and importance.
What Are Some Disadvantages of Kanban?
The following are some major disadvantages of kanban:
Slower to implement and requires a team that is already accustomed to agile methodologies: Since there are no formal rules for how the process should be done, most people will find it difficult to understand what needs to be achieved and when they need to do things until after some time has passed. This makes it hard for managers or leaders to convince or push for this process.
Decisions can be hasty: This methodology does not require consensus among members of the team because different individuals are responsible for making decisions about what needs to get done next. On the other hand, this means that there could potentially be problems with communication and understanding between roles on a project if teams do not trust one another.
Harder for teams with distributed members: Kanban involves more communication and coordination between all people on the project since there are less explicit rules about how work should be done compared to scrum, which has specific guidelines like sprints, standups, etc. Kanban has fewer rules and structures, which can result in more freedom but also lower discipline among team members.
Requires more up-front planning: Because kanban does not have the same rules and guidelines that Scrum has, it can be more difficult to predict what will happen and plan accordingly.
Not suitable for long projects and large teams: While both methods are used in a variety of contexts because there is no specific structure like sprints or backlogs with kanban, it can make sense to use it solely for short-term projects. Since there is less explicit guidance with how work should be done on kanban compared to scrum, it can be better suited for smaller teams.
Which Framework Is the Best for Your Organization?
Scrum framework is suitable for teams who are looking for 100% predictability of deliverables. This framework is better suited to teams that require detailed planning and design documentation before the development begins, as each sprint requires a well-defined set of goals.
Scrum is suitable for organizations that are looking for complete control over the product. This framework focuses on team collaboration and makes sure that all features are built together in one iteration before moving to the next one.
Kanban, on the other hand, is suitable for organizations that do not need strict adherence to defined processes and workflow structures because this methodology provides flexibility to teams to change the workflow structure according to their needs.
Kanban is better suited for organizations that require more flexibility and dynamic workflows instead of rigid structures imposed on them by scrum methodology.
Though this blog highlights the differences between scrum and kanban, there are many agile frameworks that are a blend of both. For instance, scrumban and kanplan.
In such a case, the differences between scrum and kanban can actually complement each other to benefit certain teams and their nature of work.