Scrum vs Kanban – Which approach should you choose?

December 19, 2023 | 4 min read
Scrum and Kanban have a lot in common, especially as powerful methods for agile project management. But upon closer inspection, there are some differences. Scrum is an organized, iterative method of managing projects and developing products; Kanban, on the other hand, focuses on visualizing work, setting deadlines, and maximizing productivity. However, this is only a hint of their distinctions. To determine which approach has better use cases, we’ll provide detailed information in this Scrum vs Kanban post.

Scrum vs Kanban – An Overview

Scrum Approach – Within the Agile technique, Scrum is an approach that offers a set of roles and procedures to organize and direct the iterative development process. It is specially designed for intricate tasks that need to be modified frequently.

Sprints, or brief development cycles that run one to four weeks, are the center of Scrum. Instead of providing the full project at once, tasks are finished and given in phases in accordance with agile principles. Scrum teams may operate from a sprint backlog thanks to this methodical methodology, which also makes it easier for them to adjust to changes and rearrange priorities.

Kanban – On the other hand, the goal of the visual project management method – Kanban is to improve overall project efficiency by tracking activities. The fundamental component is a digital or physical Kanban board that divides project phases into separate columns.

On this board, project tasks are shown as sticky notes or Kanban cards, and their progression across the columns represents the project’s development. When tasks are visualized in this manner, team actions may be viewed in real-time and filtered based on progress, priority, due dates, and other factors. It provides insight into ongoing work and lets you anticipate and resolve possible bottlenecks before they impede future development.

Scrum vs Kanban – Benefits

Choosing Scrum in Agile has the following advantages:

  • It helps in involving customers in the product development process which guarantees that the software is tailored to their demands.
  • Furthermore, it enhances cooperation between scrum teams and fosters good communication and a sense of responsibility for their job.
  • Scrum’s iterative methodology makes it easy to adjust to changing circumstances and priorities, which makes it ideal for dynamic project contexts.
  • Time and money savings are associated with early product delivery. Making quick adjustments also reduces the requirement for extra resources to adjust to changing needs.
  • Lastly, the faster the product is released onto the market, the sooner your company can turn a profit. Scrum helps in launching products to market quickly due to its iterative method.

Choosing Kanban in Agile has the following advantages:

  • By classifying work stages as cards on the Kanban board, it offers a clear visual of task flow throughout the project.
  • Teams may minimize delays by quickly identifying and resolving bottlenecks through the visual tracking and management of tasks.
  • Furthermore, teams that have access to real-time information are able to predict work patterns, recognize possible obstacles, and make well-informed decisions.
  • By offering a common board for teams to see, manage, and monitor activities, Kanban promotes teamwork. This cooperative setting strengthens collaboration and encourages a sense of shared responsibility.
  • Whether applied alone or in conjunction with other approaches like Scrum, Kanban integrates and adjusts to a wide range of project needs with ease.

Scrum vs Kanban – When to use

  • Kanban is well-suited for environments where work is a continuous flow with fewer changes and updates. Thus, it’s particularly effective in industries like manufacturing, consultancy, and software marketing, where tasks can be numerous and variable. Furthermore, if your team experiences changes in priorities, frequent interruptions, or varying levels of incoming work, Kanban can help. Lastly, if your team’s goal is a consistent and steady delivery of work without overloading team members, you should choose the Kanban method.
  • Scrum works effectively for projects whose needs are anticipated to change over time and are not well specified at first. Furthermore, if your project requires collaboration among members with different skill sets, Scrum’s emphasis on cross-functional teams can be beneficial. Additionally, if your project requires a high level of customer involvement, feedback, and adaptability to changing customer needs, Scrum is a suitable choice.

Conclusion

In conclusion of Scrum vs Kanban, choosing between them depends on the specific needs and characteristics of your project, team, and organization. Use Kanban if you appreciate the ability to visualize workflows using metrics and want project flexibility. If your project calls for close teamwork, quick feedback, and continuous upgrades, go with Scrum. Ultimately, the choice between Scrum and Kanban may not be absolute, and some teams adopt a hybrid approach or even transition between the two based on project phases and requirements.

Frequently asked questions

Can I combine both the methods Scrum and Kanban?
Yes, many teams adopt a hybrid approach, commonly referred to as “Scrumban.” This approach combines elements of both Scrum and Kanban to create a customized workflow that suits the team’s needs. For example, a team might use Scrum’s iterative process but employ Kanban’s visual board for task management.
From Scrum vs Kanban, which approach is better for small teams?
Both Scrum and Kanban can be adapted for small teams. Scrum’s structured framework may provide clarity, while Kanban’s flexibility can suit smaller, dynamic teams. Consider factors such as project complexity and team preferences when making a choice.
Is Scrum or Kanban better for software development?
Both Scrum and Kanban are widely used in software development. Scrum’s fixed iterations can provide a structured approach, while Kanban’s continuous flow is suitable for projects with varying workloads and frequent changes.
How does each approach handle changes in priorities?
Scrum handles changes during a Sprint through a well-defined change control process. In Kanban, changes can be implemented at any time, reflecting its flexibility. The choice depends on how your team prefers to manage and adapt to changing priorities.
Do Scrum and Kanban support remote work?
Yes, both Scrum and Kanban can be adapted for remote work. Virtual boards and online tools make it possible to manage tasks, collaborate, and conduct ceremonies in distributed teams.