Kanban vs Scrum - What Sets Them Apart?

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Kanban vs Scrum - What Sets Them Apart?

Sameeksha Medewar
Last updated on September 12, 2022

    Among all the approaches to software development, Agile is one of the most popular ones. It entails a set of values and principles that allows organizations to deliver value to customers quickly with less hassle. In addition, Agile leverages both incremental and iterative approaches to deliver superior quality software products and services to customers.

    More interestingly, Agile is not a single methodology. Instead, it is a broad term for various other methodologies . Among all, Kanban and Scrum are the two popular and widespread Agile methodologies. While both these methodologies intend to accomplish a particular project in small increments with a focus on continuous development, they follow different approaches.

    While Kanban focuses on visualizing tasks, Scrum intends to develop a project in a set of fixed-length sprints. More interestingly, many organizations use Kanban and Scrum together and leverage the benefits of both. As a result, it is not always necessary to choose between Kanban and Scrum since they both go well hand in hand.

    Through this blog post, we seek to make you acquainted with the differences between Kanban and Scrum. Also, we have introduced you to Kanban and Scrum methodologies, along with their core principles.

    So, here it goes!

    What is Kanban?

    Kanban is a visual workflow management approach that helps organizations keep track of tasks involved in a specific project using a Kanban board. Basically, it is a Japanese word having the meaning ‘visual board’ or ‘sign board’.

    The Kanban board is the heart of the Kanban method that divides the entire project into small phases represented in columns. Furthermore, cards represent each small task that moves from one column to the next until it is accomplished. Such a visual representation of work results in reduced inefficiencies in the project.

    Kanban follows the principles of Lean and Agile development methodologies. Also, it is important to note that it works well with other methodologies to improve the workflow. It is often used with Scrum in a process called Scrumban.

    The primary aim of using Kanban is to reduce the time the project takes from the initial phase to the deployment phase. In addition, it helps teams to determine potential blockages or obstructions in a project and correct them.

    Principles

    The four core principles of Kanban are as follows:

    • Visualize Work: Kanban involves visualizing the workflow on the Kanban board. This board lets you divide the project into small phases and represent those phases in each column. Also, you can represent a task by creating a card in a specific column. This card moves from one column to its immediate next column until the task gets completed. As a result, every team member can track the progress of tasks involved in the project.
    • Work in Progress(WIP) Limit: It defines limiting the number of tasks that can be in progress at a specific point in time.
    • Focus on Flow: This principle states that the work should flow smoothly through the Kanban system. To ensure that the work flows without any obstructions, you can adopt the WIP limit and create and follow team-driven policies.
    • Continuous Improvement: As Kanban helps teams to keep track of every task, they can improve the process and make it even better.

    Advantages

    Here are the notable upsides of Kanban:

    • Kanban is among the most visible and transparent software development and project management methodologies.
    • It is pretty easy to comprehend and implement. Unlike Scrum, the Kanban approach does not require you to be an expert.
    • Since Kanban visualizes the entire workflow and the process output, it becomes easier to perform the analysis of work.
    • Every member of the team acts as a leader and works together to produce ideal results.
    • The easier analysis of work with Kanban results in reduced overheads.

    Disadvantages

    The following are the major downsides of Kanban:

    • You cannot use Kanban independently. It always has to be integrated with other methodologies.
    • It is not ideal for products that require frequently adapting to changes.
    • Unlike Scrum, it is not time-boxed. As a result, there is no way to determine whether a task has to be moved to the next immediate column in one day or one month.
    • It is essential to update the Kanban board regularly. Otherwise, it may result in inconsistencies and can create chaos.

    When to Use Kanban?

    Kanban is good to go if you:

    • Desire to visualize everything in the project from the beginning to the end.
    • Want your project to easily adapt to changes in real-time.
    • Don’t want to have defined roles in your team.
    • Wish to identify and correct the bottlenecks in the project.

    What is Scrum?

    Scrum is one of the most widely adopted Agile methodologies that assist organizations in delivering the best value to their customers within the shortest time. It is specifically devised to manage projects that require frequent changes.

    The basic idea of Scrum is to split the project into small modules or increments and complete and deliver each increment in a short development cycle called a sprint. Every sprint lasts from one to four weeks.

    Therefore, customers get a new build of a software product after every two to four weeks. Based on customers’ feedback, the necessary changes get reflected in the next increment. In this way, Scrum ensures the delivery of exceptional and first-rate software products.

    Moreover, there is a Scrum team of a few members, not more than 9 people. Out of these members, one is a Scrum Master, and one is a product owner. Rest all members fall under the development team.

    The Scrum methodology basically works on five core values, namely courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness. Every member of a Scrum team needs to adhere to these values.

    Principles

    Six core principles of Scrum are as follows:

    • Empirical Process Control: This principle states that Scrum is based on the three primary ideas, namely transparency, adaption, and inspection.
    • Self-Organization: Every member of the Scrum team is self-organized. When employees are self-organized, they deliver high-quality and greater value, which is beneficial for an organization.
    • Collaboration: This principle primarily focuses on three main dimensions of collaborative work, namely awareness, articulation, and appropriation. Also, it advocates that software development or project management is a shared process where multiple teams work together and collaborate to deliver the best possible value in a short time.
    • Value-Based Prioritization: Since Scrum delivers a product in increments, it prioritizes delivering the high-value increment first.
    • Time-Boxing: This principle highlights that various activities in Scrum, including Sprint, daily standup meetings, sprint planning meetings, and sprint review meetings, are of limited time.
    • Iterative Development: It focuses on delivering each increment and improving it by considering feedback from customers. This principle focuses on managing changes in the product as specified by the customers.

    Advantages

    The following are the remarkable advantages of Scrum:

    • Scrum ensures that the teams have made efficient use of time and resources.
    • It can easily manage complex and large projects.
    • Scrum meetings help the Scrum team to get complete visibility of the work carried out throughout the project.
    • It welcomes feedback from clients and stakeholders.
    • Since there are short sprints in Scrum, it becomes manageable to make changes based on feedback.

    Disadvantages

    Some major drawbacks of Scrum are as follows:

    • It is pretty difficult to adopt Scrum for large teams.
    • To make the project successful, Scrum requires you to have experienced and skilled team members.
    • Since Scrum involves daily standup meetings, it may sometimes frustrate team members.
    • Your project can have an adverse effect if any of the team members leave in the middle.
    • When developing a project with Scrum, there is no definite end date.

    When to Use Scrum?

    Scrum is an ideal methodology to choose if:

    • Customer feedback matters to you the most and consider them to make changes in the project.
    • The project is complex and requires frequent changes in the requirements.
    • You prefer changes in the projects after the completion of each iteration and not during the ongoing iteration.
    • Your team requires clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

    Kanban vs Scrum - A Detailed Comparison

    Both Kanban and Scrum fall under the category of Agile Methodology, and they share some similarities, as follows:

    • Kanban and Scrum methodologies let projects adapt to changes at any point during the development process, enhance transparency, and have short development cycles.
    • While Kanban delivers tasks of a project continuously until it gets accomplished, Scrum delivers small increments in shorter development cycles, i.e., one to four weeks.

    Now, let us head towards the major differences between Kanban and Scrum methodologies.

    Kanban

    Scrum

    Kanban is a methodology that involves the visual representation of tasks on the Kanban board and helps teams to keep track of the progress of those tasks.

    Scrum is a methodology that involves delivering value to customers in short development cycles called sprints.

    Team members do not have any defined role in Kanban.

    In Scrum, every team member has their own roles and responsibilities. In general, the Scrum team involves a Scrum Master, product owner, and development team.

    In Kanban, the iterations are not fixed since it is not time-based. Instead, it considers cycle time, a total time duration between the start and end of a task.

    Scrum is a time-boxed methodology that has fixed-length iterations.

    The delivery cycle in Kanban is continuous.

    The delivery cycle in Scrum ranges between one to four weeks.

    It is not mandatory for teams to accomplish a specific amount of work in a fixed time.

    Teams have to commit a particular amount of work in Scrum.

    Any new items or requirements can be added to the project at any time if the capacity is available.

    You cannot add any new items or requirements to the ongoing iterations.

    The only artifact involved in Kanban is the Kanban board.

    The artifacts involved in Scrum are the Sprint backlog, product backlog, and product increments.

    It is possible for multiple teams to share a Kanban board.

    A single team manages the Sprint backlog.

    This methodology is ideal for projects whose priorities do not change frequently and over time.

    Scrum is ideal for projects with frequently changing priorities.

    It is not possible to have drastic changes in the project.

    You can shift your project from the traditional model to the Scrum model.

    Every team member is a leader in Kanban.

    The Scrum Master is the leader who leads the Scrum team.

    Kanban focuses on efficiency, effectiveness, and predictability.

    Scrum emphasizes transparency, inspection, and adaptability.

    Kanban vs Scrum - Which One to Choose?

    Both Kanban and Scrum are Agile methodologies and have their own strengths. In addition, both methodologies tend to improve the efficiency and productivity of the teams but are suited for different circumstances.

    Scrum is good to go for complex projects having frequently changing requirements. On the flip side, Kanban is suitable for projects whose requirements are stable and do not change over time.

    However, it would not be fair to put Kanban in opposition to Scrum since both these methodologies go well hand in hand.

    Many organizations adopt the hybrid model that combines both Kanban and Scrum called Scrumban . This hybrid model leverages the processes of Scrum and the visualization tools of Kanban.

    Conclusion

    This was all about the differences between Kanban and Scrum. Despite both being Agile methodologies, they have different values and priorities. No methodology is superior to the other one, and both help teams deliver high-quality projects on time.

    We tried to clearly differentiate between Kanban and Scrum through this article to make it easier for you to determine which approach works for your project. Needless to say, both Kanban and Scrum complement each other to maximize efficiency and productivity.

    If you know other differences between Kanban and Scrum than those mentioned above, do let us know via comments.

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    FAQs


    No methodology is better than the other one because both Kanban and Scrum have their own strengths and are ideal for different situations. Kanban visualizes the entire project, from the onset to the end, and helps teams to avoid bottlenecks. Meanwhile, Scrum involves dividing the entire project into small stages, where each stage is accomplished in a short time called a sprint.

    Yes, both Kanban and Scrum are part of the Agile methodology.

    No. Kanban does not involve sprints. Instead, Scrum involves sprints that are time-boxed and require teams to complete a specific amount of work. Meanwhile, Kanban involves the visual board where tasks move from one column to the next until they get finished.

    Scrum teams should have at least three members and utmost nine members.

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