Kanban and Scrum are two frameworks that come under Agile. As many companies have shifted towards being Agile, they have to choose a particular framework from Agile that would best suit the needs of their company. Both Kanban and Scrum are great frameworks to start product development, but there are subtle differences that would make a company choose one over the other. Kanban is more fluid and continuous whereas Scrum focuses on delivering values iteratively and incrementally in structured work called Sprints. Kanban and Scrum are different on the surface concerning their practices, however, both of them follow the Agile values and principles and are largely the same. The article aims to point out the key differences between both frameworks so that it helps you understand which one you should pick to build your products or services.
What is Kanban?
Kanban is a type of Agile framework that uses a visual system to manage work as it displays both the process and the work that is happening during the process. The main aim to implement Kanban is to look out for potential bottlenecks during the product development process and fix them before it becomes something bigger. The work process of Kanban states that the process of work should run smoothly at an optimal speed. Kanban focuses on maximizing the efficiency of workflow and limiting work in progress. The objective of this framework is to reduce the time to complete a project or a user story from the beginning till the end. The developers use the Kanban board and improve their flow of work continuously. The purpose of using Kanban is to meet minimal resistance during working on a project. The Kanban process allows small increments continuously and also evolutionary changes to the ongoing project. The process also helps the developers achieve improvements regarding lead time and quality of the product.
When should one use Kanban?
When companies need to visualize their project during the development process, the Kanban framework is the best to choose among the Agile frameworks. The framework helps the members look at the work in progress and also helps them to identify potential impediments that they might face. Complex information such as risks and processes associated with finishing work on time could be easily understood using Kanban. The productivity of the Kanban team increases as the boards prove effective in reducing the workload of the project. It also helps the Project Manager feel less burdened during the entire project development life cycle. A company should implement the Kanban process if they already have another process that is working fine but needs optimization. The Kanban process helps the team to improve their trial and error-tested processes and gradually helps them develop better products.
The Kanban Process
By following certain principles for managing and improving the flow of work, the things such as staffing, sales, procurement, marketing, software development, etc are gradually improved. It is recommended that a team that is already using any other framework use Kanban as it helps them to analyze their current framework and optimize the process of development accordingly.
Kanban uses four important principles mentioned below:
- Visualizing work
Kanban emphasizes visualizing the workflow by creating a visual model which aids in looking after the workflow which is moving through the Kanban system.
- Limiting work in process
This principle makes sure that the time taken by an item to travel across the system is minimized and decreased as much as possible.
- Focusing on the flow
The entire Kanban is programmed in such a way that the work-in-process limits and the developing team-driven policies are used to achieve a smooth flow of work.
- Improving continuously
The Kanban system which is implemented acts as a foundation for improving continuously and also aids the team members to assess their effectiveness by quality lead times, and analyzing tracking flow, etc.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is one of the most implemented Agile frameworks that deliver business values in short periods called Sprints. It develops products iteratively and incrementally which helps the developers to build quality products. It focuses on inspecting the actual working software and gives importance to teamwork and the progress of the development. The goal of Scrum is to build and deliver new software every 2-4 weeks which is a time-boxed period called Sprints. Every organization that is planning to adopt Agile in their organization can start by implementing Scrum as it is simple and easy to understand. Scrum can offer solutions to every project management business and also can help in organizing live events. Scrum makes the Developers react quickly and trains them to respond to sudden changes. Scrum is built in three pillars- Transparency, Inspection, and adaptation. It encourages the information of the project to be kept transparent and helps the team to understand the complexity of the work. This helps the teams to react to current conditions and inspect and adapt accordingly and not only be prepared to predicted conditions. As the requirements of the customer keep changing based on the market trends, Scrum helps the team members to look out for common pitfalls and chaos and address them as quickly as possible.
When should Scrum be used?
In projects where the requirements of the customer are constantly changing, the Scrum framework is a great framework to process the workflow. Scrum uses the principle of being self-organizing and cross-functional as it deals with changing environments and also with the uncertainty of what features to expect in the long run. Companies usually use Scrum when they want to progress on their project in small steps and do not want to plan their product roadmap in detail in advance. Most of the item is not known at the beginning of the project and the developers only know what is required for the next few Sprints based on the feedback of the customers and users. Projects which have low-level requirements that are defined at the start of the project are good choices where Scrum could be used for development. The optimizations and changes of the requirements and processes of the product are very important in the Scrum framework.
The Scrum Process
Scrum uses an iterative and incremental method of developing business values. It makes sure that the team members work on the projects assigned and also evaluate which process is suitable and which is not. In the Scrum process, communication plays a major role as the development process is discussed in Scrum meetings called Scrum Events. These Scrum Events include:
- Daily Scrum
This event is a small meeting that occurs in the same place and time every day. The team members review the work which they have completed till now and address the impediments that they are facing in their current process. They review the work which is yet to be completed and plan about what all work they have to do till the next meeting. The meeting is timeboxed for 15 minutes ideally where members may speak up about the obstacles they are facing to complete the project.
- Sprint Planning meeting
Sprint is a time-boxed period by which the team decides to complete a set of work which is generally about 2-4 weeks. Before the Sprint begins, the team gathers around to plan the tasks that have to be completed. Everyone helps in setting goals for the Sprint where the User Stories selected would be based on priority on the Product Backlog. The Sprint aims to produce at least one increment at the end of the Sprint.
- Sprint Review
After the Sprint ends, the stakeholders along with the Product Owner and the Scrum Master reviews the Product Increments developed and compares them with the tasks that were promised at the beginning of the Sprint. The Stakeholders give feedback on the Product Increment which is integrated into the product by the next Sprint.
- Sprint Retrospective
Another meeting without the stakeholder conducted by the Product Owner with the Developers is the Sprint Retrospective. Everyone reflects on the Sprint process and evaluates their performance and takes down points on what could have been better and tries to implement it on the next Sprint.
Kanban Vs Scrum
Here are few major differences between Scrum and Kanban which would give you a clearer picture of both the differences.
Changes are easily accepted in Kanban which makes it less rigid and things can frequently change.
The changes are not so frequent between the development process as it stresses planning such as Sprint Planning and Sprint Retrospective.
Uses graphs to measure the progress of the team
Uses time measurements made during Sprints to evaluate the progress of the team.
Does not require estimation
Emphasizes planning estimation.
Does not have specific roles and responsibilities for individuals
Every individual has specific roles and responsibilities which they have to fulfill for the product to be completed
The product development depends on forecasts and time-boxing
The Sprints in Scrum depends on forecasts and Sprint goals
Commitment to particular goals by individual team members is optional.
Every team member has to commit to specific goals which have to be fulfilled by the end of the Sprint.
The process in Kanban is focused on using the Kanban dashboard
The Scrum process focuses on the Product Backlog to add new features to the product.
Kanban process have specialized teams which take care of the product development
Scrum has cross-functional teams which take care of any disruptions that take place during product development.
It allows new items to be added as the product development is going on.
Adding new items during the product development is not possible in Scrum.
Kanban boards could be shared by multiple teams to work simultaneously.
Sprint Backlog is only owned by a specific team and should be worked on by that team.
Product review and testing occur at the same time as processes and products are delivered continuously.
A set of work is completed in a given amount of time called Sprints where the product review occurs at the end of the Sprint.
A Project Manager may be present who encourages the team to collaborate on the project.
The Scrum master organizes the Scrum Events and solves impediments faced by Developers and the Product Owners define the needs of the product.
Every team member is equally responsible for the product as they are encouraged to solve any issues that come during development.
Scrum Master acts as a person who solves the issues faced by the developers.
The production rate is measured using cycle time.
The production rate is measured using Sprint velocity.
New items are added based on the requirement of the product and do not have particular schedules.
Scrum relies on schedules and new items cannot be added between the iterations.
Not suitable for large teams as it may be difficult to divide the work
Suitable for large teams as the work could be divided easily into smaller portions.
When we address the question of what is the difference between Scrum and Kanban, we see that the Scrum framework is used by companies that are starting to adopt Agile and want a simple framework. However, Kanban is for those companies which already have experience in any other Agile framework and want to advance into continuous integration. Both the Agile frameworks are excellent choices but which one would suit you best entirely depends on your experience. If you want to develop products continuously and keep adding changes to your products without any restrictions of time, you can choose Kanban as your primary framework. However, if you think that the product does not need many changes when it is being developed, then the Scrum process would be a better option. In the end, you have to know the key differences mentioned about Scrum and Kanban and deduce which framework would be the best for you.