Kanban vs Scrum: Which One is Right for Your Business?

Whether you are a product manager or a software developer, the debates about which methodology is the best suitable for your business always happen around you. Kanban and Scrum are two popular agile frameworks that help businesses both improve productivity and deliver projects on time and within budget. However, they have different strengths and weaknesses, so the best choice for your business will depend on your specific needs and goals.

In this article, we will find both similarity and contrast between Kanban and Scrum, and discuss which framework is right for your business in 2023. We will also provide some tips for choosing the right framework for your specific needs. So, whether you are new to agile project management or you are looking to switch frameworks, read on to learn more about Kanban and Scrum and how to choose the right one for your business.

1. Agile Methodologies 

1.1. Definition

Agile methodologies are a group of project management frameworks that emphasise flexibility, iterative development, and customer collaboration. Due to its advantages, software developers often use these methods, and apply them to any project where the requirements are constantly changing or where the team needs to be able to adapt to new information quickly.

1.2. 4 Key Values

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Agile teams value the interactions between people over the use of processes and tools. They believe that people are more important than processes and the best way to get things done is to work together.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation: Agile teams focus on delivering working software over creating comprehensive documentation. They believe that it is more important to get the software into the hands of users so that they can provide feedback and make improvements.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Agile teams collaborate with customers throughout the development process. They believe that it is important to get customer feedback early and often so that they can tailor the software to meet their needs.
  • Responding to change over following a plan: Agile teams are able to respond to change quickly and easily. They believe that it is more important to be able to adapt to change than to stick to a rigid plan.

1.3. 12 Principles

Customer satisfaction

The highest priority is to satisfy the customer through both early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Welcome changes

Even if it is late in development, Agile processes harness change for the customer\’s competitive advantage.

Deliver frequently

Increments of functionality should be delivered frequently, whether it is a few weeks or a few months, with a preference for shorter timescales.

Work together

Businesses and developers must work together daily throughout the project, this could finally reduce the risk of project development.

Motivated team

Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to successfully finish the job.

Face-to-face interactions

The most effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Working Software

Working software is often the best documentation. Project managers and businesses undoubtedly need to focus on minimising paperwork and maximising productivity.

Sustainable Development

Agile processes promote sustainable development. For this reason, the sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Technical excellence & Good design

The software development team should take time to review their code and make them better with each iteration, which will save them more time than cleaning up code later.

Simplicity

Keep things simple and minimize the time between comprehension and completion. Moreover, remember to avoid doing things that don’t matter

Self-organizing teams

Teams should be allowed to self-organise around their work. 

Inspect & Adapt

Identify and adjust the behaviour and process that most effectively enables them to deliver value to their customers in the long run.

So, Agile Methodologies include which methods? Read our latest article about them now: Top 10 Agile Software Development Methodologies to Build a Great App. There are a lot of different methodologies to choose from, but the two most popular are Kanban and Scrum. Let’s move on to Kanban and Scrum. 

2. What is Kanban? 

2.1. Definition

Kanban is a visual system for managing work. It is a popular agile methodology that is used in software development, but it any project can apply this method where there is a need to visualise work and limit work-in-progress. This helps teams to avoid overwhelming by too much work and to focus on delivering value to customers quickly. 

Teams use Kanban boards to track a variety of types of work, including tasks, features, bugs and progress. They can also use them to track work at different levels, from an individual task to an entire project. They typically have three columns:

  • To Do: This column represents work that is not yet started.
  • In Progress: This column represents work that is currently being worked on.
  • Done: This column represents work that is complete.

Kanban is a pull system, which means that work is only pulled from the To Do column when it is ready to be worked on. This helps to prevent teams from overloading themselves with work and to ensure completed work in a timely manner.

2.2. Pros & Cons

Here are some of the benefits of using Kanban:

  • Visualisation: Kanban boards provide a visual representation of work, which can help teams to understand the status of work and to identify bottlenecks.
  • Limiting work-in-progress: Kanban limits the amount of work that is in progress at any time. This helps to prevent teams from overloading themselves with work and to ensure to complete work in a timely manner.
  • Improving efficiency: Kanban can help teams to improve efficiency by identifying and eliminating waste.
  • Collaboration: Kanban boards can be used to facilitate collaboration between team members. This can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and complete work in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, the drawbacks of using Kanban could be:

  • Requires discipline: Kanban requires discipline from teams to follow the process and to limit work-in-progress.
  • Can be difficult to implement: Kanban can be difficult to implement in some organisations, especially those that are used to a more traditional waterfall approach to development.
  • Not suitable for all projects: Kanban is not suitable for all projects. It is a good choice for projects where there are a limited number of tasks and where the requirements are relatively stable.

To conclude, Kanban is a flexible methodology that can be suitable to the specific needs of a project. It is a good choice for projects where there is a need to visualise work, limit work-in-progress, and improve efficiency.

3. What is Scrum? 

3.1. Definition

Scrum is a more structured framework that breaks projects down into short sprints, or iterations, of work. Each sprint typically lasts 2-4 weeks, and at the end of each sprint, the team delivers a working product increment to the customer. 

Scrum is based on a few key concepts:

  • Sprints: Scrum projects are divided into short sprints, typically two weeks long. At the end of each sprint, the team delivers a working product increment to the customer.
  • Roles: Scrum teams have three roles: Product Owner (defining the product backlog), Scrum Master (facilitating the Scrum process and ensuring effective work), and Development Team (developing the product according to the product backlog). 
  • Events: Scrum teams have five events: Sprint Planning (plan the next sprint), Daily Scrum (synchronise work and identify any blockers), Sprint Review (demo the product increment to the customer and get feedback), Sprint Retrospective (reflect on the previous sprint and identify ways to improve), and Release Planning (plan the next release of the product).

Scrum is a flexible methodology that can be suitable to the specific needs of a project. It is a good choice for projects where there is a need to deliver working quickly and efficiently, and where there is a need to collaborate with customers and stakeholders.

3.2. Pros & Cons

Here are some of the benefits of using Scrum:

  • Delivering working software frequently: Scrum teams deliver working software at the end of each sprint. This helps to ensure that the customer is always getting something new and the team is always learning and improving.
  • Collaboration with customers and stakeholders: Scrum teams collaborate with customers and stakeholders throughout the development process. This helps to ensure that the team is building the right product and that the product meets the needs of the customer.
  • Flexible and adaptable: Scrum is a flexible methodology that can be suitable to the specific needs of a project. This makes it a good choice for projects where requirements are constantly changing.
  • Improved communication: Scrum promotes communication between team members and between the team and the customer. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project is moving forward smoothly.

Scrum’s drawbacks include:

  • Requires discipline: Scrum requires discipline from teams to follow the process and to deliver working software at the end of each sprint.
  • Can be difficult to implement: Scrum can be difficult to implement in some organisations, especially those that are used to a more traditional waterfall approach to development.
  • Not suitable for all projects: Scrum is not suitable for all projects. It is a good choice for projects where there is a need to deliver working software quickly and efficiently, but it is not a good choice for projects where there are a limited number of tasks or where the requirements are relatively stable.

4. Similarities between Kanban and Scrum

As Kanban and Scrum are both Agile Methodologies, they share some similarities below:

  • Iterative and incremental: This means that work is broken down into small, manageable chunks and that progress is made in small steps  over time
  • Based on continuous improvement: Teams are constantly looking for ways to improve their processes and deliver better value to customers
  • Use visualisation to track progress: Work is typically tracked on a Kanban board or Scrum board, which helpt teams to see what work is in progress, what work is waiting to be started, and what work has been completed
  • Rely on self-organising teams: Teams are responsible for planning and executing their own work, without a lot of external direction or supervision
  • Emphasise communication and collaboration: Teams work closely together to share information, coordinate their efforts and solve problems
  • Limit work-in-progress (WIP): This helps teams to avoid overwhelming by too much work and to focus on delivering value to customers quickly
  • Use pull scheduling: This means that work is only started when the team need, and that teams only work on one piece of work at a time
  • Need work to be broken down into smaller pieces: This makes it easier to track progress and to ensure that work is completed in a timely manner
  • Centred on organised team: Teams are responsible for planning and executing their own work, without a lot of external direction or supervision

5. Kanban vs Scrum: Which One is Better?

5.1. Comparison

Kanban and Scrum are both agile project management methodologies that can be used to improve team productivity and deliver projects on time and within budget. However, they have different strengths and weaknesses. Comparing Kanban and Scrum can make it easier to understand thoroughly and identify the best suited methodology. Let’s take a look at our table that summarizes and represents the key differences between Kanban and Scrum: 

FeatureKanbanScrum
FocusVisualising work and limiting WIPDelivering value to customers quickly
FlexibilityVery flexibileMore structures
Delivery cycleCan be incorporated any timeGenerally not made during sprint
Variety of workGood for teams with a lot of variability in the size and complexity of their workGood for teams with a good understanding of the work that needs to be done
PredictabilityLess predictableMore predictable
PrioritiesChangingStable
ChangesCan be made mid-streamDiscouraged during the sprint
ArtefactsKanban boardProduct backlog, sprint backlog, product increments
RolesNo defined rolesScrum master, product owner, and development team
Scheduling cadenceFeedback loopsFixed-length sprints
Primary MetricLead timeVelocity
ToolsJira Software, Kanbanize, SwiftKanban, Trello, AsanaJira Software, Axosoft, VivifyScrum, Targetprocess
ScalableEasily add or remove team membersBe careful or increasing the sprint velocity too much
Key conceptsEffective, efficient, predictableTransparency, adaption, inspection
Suitable Project– Changing requirements
– Need to prioritise work
– Advanced Agile teams
– Clear goal
– Limited budget
– Small team
– Cross-team collaboration

5.2. How to choose the right framework for your business?

The best way to decide which framework is right for your team is to experiment with both and see which one works better for you. Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing between Kanban and Scrum:

  • Your needs and goals. What are you trying to achieve with agile project management? What are your biggest challenges?
  • The size and complexity of your projects. If your projects are large and complex, Scrum may be a better choice because it provides more structure and guidance. If your projects are smaller and less complex, Kanban may be a better choice because it is more flexible and adaptable.
  • The culture of your team. If your team is already used to working in a flexible and collaborative way, Kanban may be a good fit. If your team is more traditional and hierarchical, Scrum may be a better choice.
  • Your budget and resources. Kanban is a more lightweight framework than Scrum, so it may be a better choice if you have limited budget or resources.

Otherwise, it might be possible to combine aspects of each approach. For instance, a Scrum team would take use of Kanban boards. That’s why there is a new methodology called Scrumban that combines elements of Scrum and Kanban. It is a good choice for projects where there is a need to deliver working software quickly and efficiently, but where there is also a need to be flexible and adaptable to change.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Kanban and Scrum are both effective agile project management frameworks that can help businesses improve their productivity and deliver projects on time and within budget. However, they have different strengths and weaknesses, so the best choice for your business will depend on your specific needs and goals. If you need a flexible and adaptable framework for a variety of projects, Kanban may be a good choice. If you need a more structured framework for large and complex projects, Scrum may be a better choice. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, the best framework may change over time as your needs and goals evolve.

However, if you are still not sure which methodology is right for your business, then consult with a software development expert. They can help you assess your specific needs and recommend the best approach for your project. AgileTech offers a consulting service for you right now. When you choose to work with AgileTech, you will receive huge tech support as we got 8 years of software development experience with multiple methodologies. We have a proven record of building high-quality products for clients around the world, using various methodologies. If you need further information and consultation for your project, feel free to fill out this form to meet our IT experts!