Whether you’re an expert Agile practitioner or just arrived in this field of work, you’ve probably heard people asking more than once what are the differences between Kanban and Scrum. It’s also very likely you’ve made that question yourself (no need to be ashamed, though, it’s a lot more common than you think).
We’ve already went over the concepts of Kanban and Scrum before so we’ll do a quick recap on each of these concepts before we present an objective comparison between these two approaches to project/task management.
Kanban Scrum Comparison
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a very popular customizable framework that improves efficiency and results by defining all the work that needs to be done and creating a ‘sprint‘ out of it.
It’s an iterative method which means that every time the sprint’s result is achieved (aka a new product/feature is released), you go right back to the beginning to start a new sprint.
One of the most defining characteristics Scrum has is strictly limiting work in progress and establishing that a new sprint can’t begin until the previous has been finished. These points can be considered restricting by some teams.
What is Kanban?
Kanban and Scrum are similar in many ways but, instead of creating restraints, Kanban is a lot more flexible since it allows for reprioritizing work according to the business’ needs.
Instead of limiting the total amount of work to be done on a sprint, Kanban limits the work on each state/phase of the process and, as work progresses, more can be added, creating a steady flow of work.
Kanban focuses on improving team collaboration in order to ensure work is flowing through the system at a steady pace. Scrum is a lot more restrictive and it requires the definition of stories as well as daily meetings where everyone reports on the status of their work.
While using Kanban doesn’t make these requirements mandatory, teams are free to adopt these or other practices that may help their workflow.
What are the differences?
As mentioned before, Scrum restrains the workflow according to time periods (sprints). Each project (a new feature to be released, for example) is strictly planned and work in progress is limited as to ensure the team will deliver what’s expected at the end of the sprint.
Kanban defines the workflow based on each single item, allowing teams to add other items as it becomes necessary (as long as these new items can be absorbed by the team’s work capacity and won’t cause bottlenecks or slow the progress of the work).
The flexibility offered by Kanban can be seen as a strength or a weakness – while it makes it a lot easier to add/remove work according to the demands, it can also easily be abused by the need to move development faster. To make sure each team’s work capacity is respected, work needs to be closely monitored.
The overall lesson we get from this kanban scrum comparison is that it’s not a matter of “this or that” – both approaches can be adopted simultaneously in order to ensure the best of both worlds and ensure your team achieves the best results possible.
Consider both possibilities, research Scrumban to learn more about how these two can be combined and if you’re not able to find the best alternative for your team, why not create your own workflow management strategy?