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Kanban vs. Scrum: Which to Use?

Kanban vs. Scrum

Initiating, executing, and managing a project is a complex process that requires careful planning, well-coordinated teamwork, and relevant expertise. But, what if it’s your first project and you have no idea how to start or how to manage things from the idea conceptualization till the product release?

Don’t be concerned! There is a way to streamline your workflow and effectively manage all your projects at once! How? There are a plethora of project management approaches that help in easing your entire process.

However, when it comes to choosing the right project management approach, it can be difficult as there are too many out there. But, in this blog post, we focus on two popular approaches: Kanban and Scrum. Uncover the basics of these two approaches, understand their benefits & limitations, and find out how to choose the approach that fits your project best.

What is Kanban?

What is kanban

Kanban is a project management method that mainly focuses on streamlining workflow. It is a method to design, manage, and improve workflow systems by adhering to Agile principles during project development.

In short, Kanban focuses on three things:

  • Work Visualization
  • Workflow Optimization
  • Time-saving

One of the primary goals of Kanban is to shorten the time between the start of a project and its completion, while preserving the quality of work.

The main values of Kanban are:

  • Understanding
  • Transparency
  • Balance
  • Agreement
  • Flow
  • Leadership
  • Customer Focus
  • Collaboration

Now that we know what Kanban is all about, let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of using a Kanban tool for project management.

Advantages of Kanban

  • Minimizes the workforce needed to initiate a project
  • An event-driven approach, therefore it does not entirely rely on timeboxing
  • Shorter operational cycles leading to faster deliverables
  • Highly adaptive and responsive to changes
  • Quicker feedback, thereby improving team communication and motivation

Drawbacks of Kanban

  • Prioritization is not important, therefore, sometimes important deadlines are overlooked
  • Project phases do not have a time-frame, leading to poor time management
  • Undefined team roles, making it difficult in some cases to know what a particular team member needs to do

Now that we have covered everything there is to know about the Kanan project management approach, let’s talk about Scrum.

Related Read: 5 Must-Have Project Management Software Features

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a popular Agile Methodology that primarily focuses on managing knowledge work, emphasizing on software development. Currently, development teams often use this approach to manage complex software product development cases.

A few Scrum approach team values include:

  • Openness
  • Courage
  • Respect
  • Commitment

Scrum is simple to understand and manage, but only after you master it. Gaining experience with it is not an easy task. Having said that, Scrum has a lot of benefits and just a few drawbacks. Let’s dive right into them.

Advantages of Scrum

  • Product delivered in short iterations
  • Team roles are clearly defined
  • Measures are put in place to boost the quality of the deliverables
  • Cross-functional development team
  • Promotes a friendly environment and easy management
  • Transparency and continuous communication between the development team and the client

Drawbacks of Scrum

  • Poorly defined tasks that lead to crucial inaccuracies in the project
  • No measure to add new tasks and items during an iteration
  • Requires experienced professionals. A person lacking experience is unlikely to manage and organize the Scrum workflow well. So, an inexperienced Scrum master can ruin the project

Differences Between Kanban and Scrum

Now that we have covered both project management approaches, you may be in a bit of a dilemma…

Well, the main aspects that differ in the two approaches are:

Team Roles

In Kanban, there are no pre-defined roles in the team. Organization is more flexible as compared to that of Scrum. There are three roles in Scrum that are pre-defined clearly.

Delivery Principles

In Kanban, continuous delivery is a major principle. Yet, in Scrum, work happens in timeboxed sprints that end with a potentially releasable Product Increment.

Cycle Time

Kanban works well when the variability is highly prioritized. Cycle time defines the workflow. With Scrum, the teams have a chance to prioritize the tasks and divide them into batches. This way, Scrum offers more velocity as compared to Kanban.

Pull Requests

In Kanban, there is a single-piece flow. It means that work progress is pulled through the system as a single entity. In Scrum, things are quite different, where work is recorded in the sprint backlog and is pulled through the system in small batches.

Similarities of Kanban and Scrum

Even though Kanban and Scrum are quite different, they still have a lot in common. The first and most important common feature is that they both are Agile.

Both of them also lay a strong emphasis on transparency and believe that it drives the process improvement very well. What’s more, they require the project team to be self-organized and cross-functional.

Both Kanban and Scrum teams work on optimizing their release plan continuously in order to deliver the required software as early as possible.

Kanban + Scrum = Success

Sometimes it’s very hard to figure out which Agile approach works best for a given project. It might look like Scrum has everything you need to organize the work of your team effectively, but there’s just one feature from Kanban you’re missing to reach pure perfection. In this case, why restrict yourself when you see that the limitations of just working Scrum or Kanban interfere with the efficiency of your team’s work?

To alleviate this problem a term ‘Scrumban’ has been created. Scrumban allows adapting the two approaches for the benefit of a project and its team. Since both Kanban and Scrum are agile, they are quite flexible and can be adapted.

Final Thoughts

Scrum and Kanban are two different project management approaches that are frequently used in Agile. Some teams stick with Scrum, while others believe that Kanban works better. Both of them have their advantages and drawbacks. Sometimes Kanban and Scrum work better when they are united.

Agile is all about being flexible and adjusting the system to meet the needs of a given project. So if you like something from the approach you are not currently using, why not try to implement it?

The main thing is to start small and to make sure to avoid any confusion. The ideal way to implement these two approaches is to have a robust project management software, such as ProProfs Project. From defining clear goals and objectives to generating insightful reports, the software also helps in achieving maximum team transparency.

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About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in Jeffbullas.com, Hr.com, and eLearningIndustry. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.