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Kanban vs Scrum: 8 Key Differences When Applying Agile In SDLC

By November 27, 20203 Comments

Kanban vs Scrum? Have you wondered why these 2 frameworks often make confused with each other? Both of these project management methodologies are agile frameworks with the same goals. They focus on delivering product early with continuous process improvement.

The truth is Kanban and Scrum can work together. However, when to use Kanban vs Scrum? And why does it make more sense to choose one over another? If you don’t know the key differences between Scrum and Kanban, or how to pick the right approach for your team, we’ve put together the detailed comparison to help you make a better decisions. But first, let’s take a moment to understand the definition of Scrum and Kanban.

What is Agile Software Development?

Before jumping into the advantages of Kanban, and Scrum, it’s helpful to have a general understanding of Agile in software development. Typically, Agile is a collaborative, self-organizing, cross-functional approach to completing work and requirements.

Before releasing Agile Manifesto, many projects followed Waterfall project management. All the requirements of projects are broken down into linear and sequential stages before the development began.

Agile development break projects into smaller periods. Because of iterative approach, it give developers a way to address issues during development. Besides, the stakeholders can see what is being developed as well as add any concerns to projects.

What is Scrum?

Agile advocates for a collaborative, iterative approach to software development. Meanwhile, Scrum is the framework that to collaborate and get high-impact work done. Software development uses Scrum to execute their work faster and more effectively.

What is Kanban?

Like Scrum, Kanban strives to better coordinate and balance work among workers. But rather than planning work in Sprints, in Kanban, team members grab the highest-priority task in the backlog that’s ready to be completed.

8 key differences between Kanban and Scrum

1. Kanban vs Scrum: Advantages

Benefits of Kanban board

Kanban framework visualizes the team’s workflow. The Kanban tasks move through a series of categories including work to be done, work in progress, and completed work, etc.

  • Provide team members with a wealth of at-a-glance information
  • Visualize work in progress flexibility
  • Help team identify where processes need improvement
  • Make problems highly visible
  • Strict limits on the amount of work in progress at any given time
kanban board by meistertask, kanban tools
Color-coded Kanban boards

Finally, the core goal of Kanban methodology is continuous improvement. The team needs meeting periodically. It will help them improve their work process, remove blockers, and ensure Kanban implementation on any team.

As a result, Kanban board is the key component of most project management tools. If you want to visualize work more effectively, make sure it offers Kanban as a view.

Benefits of Scrum

Scrum is another Agile methodology to work in order to complete project more quickly. While Agile is a philosophy that advocates for a collaborative approach to software development, Scrum commonly put Agile philosophy into practice.

  • Team have clearly rules, rituals, and responsibilities
  • Team continuously check in and improve on current processes through daily scrum meetings and sprint review
  • Leader or product owners can manage and support their team’s most important work
  • For each sprint, team has a pre-set and limited amount of work and amount of time

When compare Kanban vs Scrum, Kanban primarily focus on the process improvements. Meanwhile, Scrum tackles complex work and gets it done faster.

2. Kanban vs Scrum: Roles

Kanban roles

The Kanban team consists of two roles:

  • Service Request Manager (SRM): bridge the gap between the customer and the business, to listen in order to bring value. There are various factors in play, such as cost of delay, complexity, or technical risk. By underpinning value with a predefined set of criteria, the SRM promotes transparency and consistency in the decision-making process while enabling the team to become more self-managed.
  • Service Delivery Manager (SDM): oversee the quality of their service delivery. In other words, the SDM ensures an appropriate response to customer demands.

Scrum roles

The Scrum team consists of three roles:

  • Product Owner: The Product Owner is a representative of the project stakeholders who is available throughout the development process to answer questions, review completed work, and prioritize requirements. The Product Owner’s involvement with the development team helps teams adhere to Agile’s push for more collaboration.
  • Scrum Master: The Scrum Master leads the development team, keeps everyone focused on their work, teaches others on the team about Scrum, and leads all of the Scrum meetings. He/she operates as the conductor of the team, making sure everything is running smoothly and everyone is following the rules of Scrum.
  • Development Team: The Development Team is a group of three to nine developers who are responsible for doing the work that’s described and prioritized by the Product Owner.

3. Kanban vs Scrum: Product owner

Scrum board typically run by a leader called a Scrum Master. The Scrum master works with the product owner to define requirements. Then they help the Scrum team plan sprints. It’s important to note that the Scrum master facilitates work rather than managing it.

The Kanban board keeps team members on the same page. But it also helps teams identify where processes need improvement. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be owned by a specific team. It’s mostly devoted to a workflow.

4. Kanban vs Scrum: Process

On the Scrum board, it all starts with a backlog, which is a list of specifications from the client or end users. All the requirements are entered into the backlog as a user stories. Instead of writing what need to be done, users stories explains what features will be developed to benefit users. In detail, user stories always follow a specific format: As a (who), I want to (what) so that (why).

Each story is then broken down into tasks required to achieve the goal. These tasks are then prioritized and their required efforts estimated to gauge how much can be taken on in the next sprint—a time period of two to four weeks. At the end of the sprint, you should have a working component. Whether it’s a feature, an enhancement, or a UI revamp, it should be an independently functioning component.

Kanban is also using a Backlog practice which is general considered to be the same as user stories. Despite the task moving form backlog to to-do section, there is no specific rule regarding the volume of the task in Kanban.

5. Work in progress limits

In Scrum, the development team has to commit the number of tasks during the sprints. They shouldn’t add any new item during the Sprint to the board. The number of items is set during the planning session, before the iteration starts.

While Kanban limits work in progress per workflow state. For example, when building a app, the backend team work much faster than frontend team. When the limit is met, no new work can enter the column until a task is completed and moved to the next column. It is signal that your team need balance: fewer backend developers and more frontend developers.

6. Task devotion

On Kanban board, each team members have their own responsibility for specific task flow like coding, testing, or reviewing. However, if one member completes task while there’s a something complicated in testing, he/ she can choose what to do next. For instance, he can help the tester to complete the task or take another activity from the queue. Whereas, the whole Scrum team is devoted to each task.

7. Urgencies

Scrum team shall rarely face with unexpected urgencies. Because they’ve already analyzed, planed, and prioritized sessions. Additionally, as we noticed before, the core feature of this methodology is adaptive and predictive. Kanban team represents urgency section s a swim lane. In case urgency tasks have to resolve as soon as possible, some team members will be sent to accomplish it faster.

8. Reports

Scrum is using a burndown chart during sprints to let team members see progress at a glance. Rather than displaying completed tasks, the burndown chart visualizes what’s left to be done. It should be continuously updated to help team members manage their workflow. In Kanban, particular charts are not prescribed.

Kanban vs Scrum: When to use?

There’s no exact rule for when your team should use Kanban, Scrum.

When to use Kanban

There are some good way to decide Kanban is right for you when:

  • Your team needs a visual project management system
  • You want an at-a-glance way to understand where a project stands
  • You’re not on an engineering, product, or software development team
  • You run ongoing processes and projects
  • Most of your work isn’t produced in short periods of time

When to use Scrum

Even though Scrum is a powerful way to organize and prioritize your entire process, it may not suitable for every team. So, use Scrum when:

  • You’re on an engineering, product, software development, or Agile-based team
  • You think your team could benefit from a slightly more rigid structure
  • You have a large backlog of work to get through
  • Your team is motivated by quick deadlines and deliverables
  • Someone on your team is committed to being the Scrum Master

kanban vs scrum which is better, the differences between scrum and kanban, agile sotware development

Scrum vs Kanban: Which is better?

The good news is you can choose both. As you can see both Scrum and Kanban are not isolated. They efficiently reduce work in progress and simplify the delivery cycle. It helps teams get feedback sooner. They also provide visual assets that allow for greater optimization and progress tracking.

Besides, many agile scrum master advise implement customized Srumban (Scrum + Kanban) to achieve better results. For example, in order to host effectively daily standup meetings, you need to visualize work through stages and track all of your work in progress. Kanban boards can help you tackle your sprint backlog and organize the flow of work during a sprint. For that reason, every Scrum cycle is a success.

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