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Scrum vs Kanban: Deciding The New Agile Benchmark

19th Feb, 2024
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    Scrum vs Kanban: Deciding The New Agile Benchmark

    Today in the rapidly changing market, software development is changing its list of requirements every now and then. As we all know, Agile is one form of software development methodology that mainly focuses on the continuous delivery of projects with client satisfaction. Agile always accepts change and works on complete specifications to turn the project into a deliverable product. In recent times, Kanban software development methodology has been in the limelight for its ability to enable DevOps. Many organizations are moving from Scrum to Kanban for better results. So the question arises, which Agile methodology works better?

    And  Scrum vs Kanban becomes the essential question today. The key differences between Kanban and Scrum depend on the rules for using the Scrum methodology and the Kanban workflow. Suppose you have chosen a Scrum framework and Kanban workflow, then what is the difference between Scrum and Kanban? Is Kanban Agile? What is Scrum vs Agile? And so on.

    Scrum vs Kanban

    Both Scrum and Kanban have a list of mandated and optional rules for their implementation. According to the Agile advice list for implementing Scrum, there are around 23 mandatory and 12 optional rules. Here are a few examples:

    • Teams are functioning in a  cross-functional manner
    • During sprints, Interruptions are strictly avoided
    • Work is always time-boxed
    • Scrum meetings are held on a daily basis
    • To measure the progress, a burndown chart is used

    Now, in the case of Kanban, the rules are comparatively less restrictive. The principal rules are-

    • Limiting the work in progress
    • To Visualize the workflow

    In terms of Kanban overview, it is a flexible and open methodology that can add rules as needed, borrowed from Scrum depending upon the requirement. In Kanban, the focus is mainly on the flow and not on the timebox. This feature makes Kanban a very appealing choice to use with DevOps.

    This blog will delve into scrum and kanban differences across various aspects to help you understand their differences and choose the right methodology for your project.  

    Comparison of Scrum and Kanban

    Change AgentLeverages as a change agentLeverages WIP Limits as a change agent
    CommitmentRequires CommitmentCommitment is not necessary
    CadenceRegular fixed length sprints(ie;2 weeks)Continuous Flow
    Release MethodologyAt the end of each sprint if approved by the product ownerContinuous delivery or at the team's discretion
    RolesProduct owner, scrum master, development teamNo existing roles.
    Some teams enlist the help of an agile coach.
    Key MetricsVelocityCycle time
    Change philosophyTeams should strive not to make changes to the sprint forecast during the sprint.
    Doing so compromises learnings around estimation.
    Change can happen at any time.

    Scrum vs Kanban: Detailed Explanation

    Here is a detailed explanation of the Kanban and scrum methodologies. 

    Scrum vs Kanban: Commitment 

    In Scrum, teams work in fixed time intervals called sprints. They commit to a set of user stories or tasks to be completed within the sprint. The commitment is crucial, and any changes to the scope are deferred until the next sprint planning session. 

    On the other hand, Kanban focuses on continuous flow. There are no fixed time intervals or commitments. Work items move through the workflow as capacity allows, and new work is pulled in when there is capacity to handle it. 

    Scrum vs Kanban: Cadence 

    Scrum operates on a predefined cadence with regular sprints. Each sprint has a fixed duration, typically ranging from one to four weeks. The cadence provides a predictable rhythm for the team and allows for regular feedback and adaptation. 

    Kanban does not have a fixed cadence. Work progresses at the pace that the team's capacity allows. It provides flexibility in handling varying workloads and allows for faster response to changes in priorities. 

    Scrum vs Kanban: Release Methodology 

    Scrum follows the concept of potentially shippable increments. At the end of each sprint, the team aims to deliver a product increment that is ready for release. This allows for regular releases and faster time-to-market. 

    Kanban does not have a specific release methodology. Instead, work items move through the workflow independently, and releases can happen at any time based on the team's decision. 

    Scrum vs Kanban: Roles 

    Scrum defines specific roles, including the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team. The Scrum Master facilitates the Scrum process, the Product Owner represents the stakeholders and manages the product backlog, and the Development Team is responsible for delivering the product increment. 

    Kanban has fewer defined roles. It primarily focuses on the team. The team members take on different responsibilities as needed. 

    Scrum vs Kanban: Key Metrics 

    Scrum utilizes metrics such as velocity, burn-down charts, and sprint burndown to track progress and measure team performance. These metrics provide insights into the team's efficiency and help with future planning. 

    Kanban emphasizes metrics such as cycle time, lead time, and throughput. They give an approximate idea of how long it takes for work to flow through the system, highlight bottlenecks and areas for improvement. 

    Scrum vs Kanban Board: Change Policy 

    Scrum has a strict change policy within a sprint. Once a sprint begins, the sprint scope is fixed, and changes are not allowed. Any new requirements or changes are deferred until the next sprint planning session. 

    Kanban allows for changes at any time. The team can reprioritize work, add or remove items from the workflow, and adapt quickly to changing requirements. 

    Scrum vs Kanban: Tools 

    Both Scrum and Kanban can be implemented using various project management tools and software. Popular tools for Scrum include Jira, Trello, and Azure DevOps. For Kanban, tools like Trello, Asana, and Kanbanize are commonly used.  

    Workflow Methodology

    For Scrum:

    Scrum board

    If we take the case of Scrum, every feature is decided before, and it is ensured that it will be completed by the next sprint. After that, the Sprint is locked, and work is finished over a couple of weeks, that is, the usual sprint duration. The locking of the sprint is done to make sure that the team is getting enough time to make last-minute changes depending on the requirement. There is a feedback session for reviewing the work accomplished. This helps to ensure that the delivered amount of work is approved by the stakeholders and is enough for directing the project as per business requirements.

    Implementing Scrum is not as easy as learning its principles. It requires changing the team members’ habits. The team members have to raise the quality of coding, take up more responsibilities, increase speed, and many more factors that need to change. Scrum allows team commitment as the team commits to the Sprint goals; they always stay motivated to get better and fast results as per the user requirements. 

    For Kanban:

    In the case of Kanban, the priority is to focus on the workflow and not on the time. The limitation is only regarding the size of the queues. The main aim behind implementing Kanban is the productivity and efficiency of the product. This allows them to deliver superior-quality work items. In addition to this, concentrating on the workflow will keep things moving. In Kanban, there is an extended feature known as stakeholder participation.

    In the Kanban board, it is mandatory to define a “Work-In-Progress-Limit (WIP Limit)”. This helps to know the status of the work items to be delivered. If a status reaches the fixed WIP limit, no new task is allowed at that state. This board helps to resolve the bottlenecks, as it makes the progress visible for further improvements. So, these WIP Limits act as a change agent in Kanban.

    The Workflow of the Kanban

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    How Scrum and Kanban are Similar? 

    While Scrum and Kanban have distinct differences, they also share some similarities. Both methodologies are based on agile principles and aim to improve team collaboration, increase transparency, and deliver value to customers. They promote continuous improvement and encourage teams to adapt to changing requirements. 

    Scrum vs Kanban: Deciding Between the Duos

    Well, that surely depends on a number of factors. You need to consider the nature of the project, team dynamics, and organizational goals. Scrum is well-suited for projects with a defined scope and fixed timeframes, whereas Kanban is more flexible and adaptable to changing priorities. If your team is responsible for enhancing the feature development feedback of the Stakeholder, then go for Scrum. But, if your team is in charge of maintenance and requires to be more reactive, you have to consider Kanban. Eventually, the need for every team is different and depending upon the requirements, methodologies need to be decided for the achievement of the goals.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1Is Kanban a Scrum framework?

    No, Kanban is not a Scrum framework. While both are agile methodologies, they have distinct characteristics and approaches.

    2Is Scrum faster than Kanban?

    The speed of project delivery depends on various factors. The nature of the project, team capabilities, and the level of uncertainty play as vital role. Scrum and Kanban can both be effective in delivering projects efficiently.

    3Are there sprints in Kanban?

    No, Kanban does not have sprints. It operates on a continuous flow basis without fixed time intervals.


    Lindy Quick

    Blog Author

    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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