Within Agile, there are various methods for managing and tracking the progress of a software development, including Scrum and Kanban. Both approaches are flexible and responsive to frequent requirement changes from the customer, but their usage and effectiveness will vary according to the situation and workflow. In this article, we will look at Scrum vs Kanban to help you select the best method for the job in hand.

scrum vs kanban

Both Scrum and Kanban are based on the principles found in the Agile Manifesto, an industry-wide agreement on what defines agile, in that development should give precedence to individuals and communications over tools and processes, functioning software has priority over expansive documentation, evolving collaboration between customers and test team supersedes contract negotiation, and iteration is preferable to sticking with a predefined plan. Scrum belongs to the first generation of Agile, which became widely adopted across the globe following overwhelmingly positive results in productivity, while Kanban belongs to the second generation, and has a more evolutionary approach, particularly favored by organizations in Europe. Although the common saying is ‘one size fits all’, the case here is to the contrary.  A comparison is needed because neither Scrum or Kanban are suitable for every project.

Scrum

Scrum helps an Agile team to build and maintain complex applications. It is characterized by simplicity, where team members can use variable processes to complete their tasks. Scrum emphasizes the self-organization of teams with relatively few members that are small enough to be effective and large enough to achieve a considerable amount of work. Teams made up of five to eleven members are ideal for a development, and two of this number will be the Product Owner and Scrum Master.

There are several important roles in a scrum team such as the Product Owner, who is in charge of the product backlog, aiding the development team to make sure that incremental builds must be delivered before moving into the next sprint, whereas the Scrum Master ensures that all activities are aligned in conformance with the method.

Let us now take a look at the activities of Scrum with their descriptions.

  • Product Backlog: A list of features and requirements to implement. This list is managed and controlled by the product owner.
  • Sprint Backlog: This describes the “to do” list of activities that need to be performed during the sprint. Each activity represents an item in the product backlog.
  • Sprint: Sprint is considered the heart of the Scrum. It is a time-frame for each concentrated period of activity, which may be for two weeks or up to a month. Within the specified time span, a workable product increment is developed.
  • Sprint Planning: Sessions take place to make decisions on what items need to be accomplished in the respective sprint. Various estimation techniques may be used during this session such as planning poker.
  • Daily Stand-Up Meetings: This is a scheduled daily meeting for 15 minutes. The aim of this meeting is to analyze the progress towards delivering the increment.
  • Sprint Review: A review meeting takes place after each sprint involving the stakeholders and the customer to check progress and improve quality. Sprint demos are commonly used during this session.
  • Sprint Retrospective: The focus of the retrospective is to share knowledge with all team members and analyze situations where any problems occurred to learn how they can be effectively handle in the future sprints.

Kanban

In this method, the team uses a visual board to improve the software development process by displaying the different phases to all. Unlike Scrum, this method has no emphasis on meetings and does not have any defined roles. In Kanban, the main focus is to visualize the workflow through the Kanban board, which can be designed according to the demands of the project with segments such as: to do, in progress, review, in testing, deliverable etc.

Let us now have a look into the activities of Kanban with their descriptions.

  • Workflow Visualization: A workflow displayed on the Kanban board for team members helps them to track their progress visually.
  • Limit Work In Progress: Concentrating the work effort on limited areas at one time is considered one of the key practices in Kanban. When multitasking is reduced, time needed to deliver the features is also reduced.
  • Flow Management: Aiming to finish work in progress by monitoring each state in the workflow, subsequently helps to move overall progress forward in a smooth manner and helps avoid delays and risks.
  • Explicitly Written Policies: A Kanban team makes sure that all the policies are explicitly mentioned for consistency.
  • Feedback: Understanding how successful a process was and whether any problems were encountered by engaging in feedback, is the backbone of any process without which we cannot improve the quality. A Kanban team has numerous ways to gather feedback which they use to compare between expected and actual outcomes, then make necessary adjustments to the process.
  • Continuous Improvements: Similar to Scrum, the main focus with Kanban is to share knowledge with other team members. With a common understanding of a problem, it’s easier for improvements to be made.

Scrum VS Kanban

Let us now have a look at the following comparisons which differentiate each method on the basis of certain factors.

  • In Scrum, we have predefined roles and responsibilities. whereas in Kanban, there are no predefined roles and responsibilities.
  • Transition to Scrum maybe challenging, but the results can be overwhelming. In Kanban, transition is easier than compared to Scrum because there is no prescribed method to follow.
  • In Scrum, the ideal team size is five to eleven members including Product Owner and Scrum master. In Kanban, team size is flexible, meaning that teams can function with less than five persons or more than eleven.
  • In Scrum, requirement prioritization is made on the basis of the sprint length, whereas in Kanban, priorities are assessed and updated continuously.
  • Scrum has a primary focus on knowledge and the experience of individuals, with less emphasis placed on quality. Whereas in Kanban, a larger emphasis is put on cost saving and quality.

Conclusion

When embarking on a new project, organizations often find it challenging to decide on the correct method for their needs. In this post, we have discussed various factors that can assist in selecting the appropriate method for product development implementation.