Kanban vs Scrum? Or Is It the High Time to Move to New-Age Playbooks?

Kanban vs Scrum? Or Is It the High Time to Move to New-Age Playbooks?

Revolutionize project management! Dive into the Kanban vs. Scrum battle and unlock the potential of new-age agile playbooks.

Kanban vs Scrum? Or Is It the High Time to Move to New-Age Playbooks
Kanban vs Scrum? Or Is It the High Time to Move to New-Age Playbooks

Kanban and Scrum are both project management techniques that emphasize continuous improvement and completion of projects in small increments. They, however, employ different processes to achieve these goals. While the former is basically hinged on visualizing tasks to ensure a seamless workflow, the latter is more about assigning roles and managing deadlines for all delivery cycles. 

Both Scrum and Kanban borrow heavily from lean and agile approaches, albeit Scrum is more often associated with agile. This means that they are both transparent and adaptive, helping you decrease inefficiencies in project management.

Comparing Kanban vs Scrum will help you realize that there are similarities and differences between them. You can, as a result, be able to make an informed decision of whether it’s high time to move to new-age playbooks or stick to one of them. Please read on to have an in-depth understanding of the characteristics that set them apart.

Kanban vs Scrum: How Do They Differ?

So what exactly are Kanban and Scrum?

What is Kanban?

As mentioned earlier, Kanban is a project management method that uses visualization to track tasks in a project to plummet inefficiencies. The pivot of this approach is the Kanban board on which the different stages of a project are arranged in columns. Tasks then continually progress through phases (columns) until the project is completed.

Kanban has been associated with such benefits as increased transparency by visually clarifying when tasks pile up and the need to complete them on time. This visual aid helps reduce inadequacies in project management by allocating resources where they are needed. In fact, 87% of all respondents in a recent survey by Kanban University said that they found Kanban to be more efficacious than other project management techniques, thereby providing them with additional benefits like:

  • Improved predictability
  • Enhanced visibility of workflow
  • Accelerated delivery or throughput speed
  • Heightened alignment of outcomes with business objectives

What’s more, Kanban is a non-disruptive, evolutionary approach that promotes steady improvements to business processes by following some principles to manage and improve workflow. You can, thus, maximize the benefits you derive from this method by following its fundamental concepts, including:

  • Visualizing the workflow: In this case, you can utilize an electronic Kanban board or a physical board to visualize the steps you are currently using to do your work or deliver services. You can use either cards or stickers with different colors to distinguish activities or services.
  • Restricting the work in progress (WIP): Limiting the WIP ensures that your team first completes the work at hand before assuming new tasks. This creates room in the system for allowing the team to take up more work.
  • Managing the workflow: Kanban helps you control workflow by outlining the various stages and the kind of work done at each phase. It also enables your team to evaluate the entire system and make adjustments where necessary to enhance workflow and reduce the duration needed to finalize a project. 
  • Implementing Explicit Process Policies: Having explicit work guidelines in place can help you create a common ground that would allow all those involved in any project to better understand their work. You can implement the policies at the swim lane level, for each column, or the board level.
  • Having feedback loops: For a system to be considered good, it must have feedback loops. Kanban lets you implement feedback loops at different stages, like work in progress. That way, you are able to get feedback from your customers within the shortest possible time, thus making sure that you deliver the right results, service, or product.
  • Evolving experimentally, but improving collaboratively:  Kanban is an evolutionary enhancement technique that aids you adopt small alterations and gain gradual improvements at a pace that won’t strain your team. The good thing about this method is that you can use a scientific approach to bring about change in your firm. In this regard, you can develop a hypothesis, test it, and execute changes based on the outcome you get. You can then observe and measure the impact of the modifications you implement using various signals provided by your Kanban system.  

How Kanban Works

Since Kanban is a progressive, non-disruptive change management approach that helps improve the existing processes in small bits, implementing minor changes over time reduces the risk to the entire system. Kanban’s evolutionary strategy results in low to no resistance within the involved team and stakeholders. The first step in Kanban is visualizing the workflow using the Kanban board as the reference point. This board then establishes the standard workflow and recognizes and solves any bottlenecks. The Kanban board has three parts that show the different phases of the workflow, including: “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.”

Merits and Demerits of Kanban

Like any other approach, Kanban has both strengths and weaknesses. The main pros encompass:

  • It’s easy to learn and implement because the main focus of a team is on the “doing” part of the Kanban board.
  • It offers a great flexibility in that team members can make modifications to the “to do” list by removing, adding, or changing cards in the column even on a short notice without disrupting the workflow significantly. Likewise, the product manager can also reprioritise activities in the workflow depending on the changes in the customers’ needs. This flexibility is beneficial to projects because alterations can be effected in real-time.
  • It fosters team work and collaboration, allowing team members to make helpful suggestions and exchange ideas as they all can access the board and understand the results the organization expects from them.
  • Limiting the work in progress helps your workers to identify bottlenecks while at the same time bolstering efficiency.

But this doesn’t mean that Kanban is flawless because it has such drawbacks as:

  • It is prone to distractions since it doesn’t set strict roles for employees; therefore, they may lose focus on the primary goal.
  • Since every workflow step is indicated on the board, complexity may arise due to confusion.

What is Scrum?

This is an agile technique that’s developed for complex projects that require teams to frequently adapt to change. The method is founded on time-bound iterations referred to as “sprints,” which typically last between one and four weeks, and allow collaboration between teams working on a project via daily meetings or “Scrums.” This helps them to work together toward attaining a common goal because the framework emphasizes accountability, teamwork, and achievement of a shared objective.

Scrum encourages each member of the team to play his or her role, learn from experience, reflect on failures and victories and use them to improve themselves. It also allows some changes in the workflow. And since it’s an agile framework, Scrum employs an iterative strategy to complete projects. Teams, thus, complete and deliver work in phases rather than delivering the entire project once. This enables them to easily adapt to alterations and changing priorities.  

A Scrum team comprises a product owner, Scrum master, and the development team, all playing diverse roles. The product owner maps out the project’s expectations and communicates them to all the team members. The Scrum master oversees the whole project by making sure that teams follow the laid down procedures. He or she also leads the entire team and ensures that there is proper collaboration, communication, and conflict resolution. The development team includes any other persons that are directly involved in the project development process.

How Scrum Works

Scrum works exactly as a team. All team members collaborate toward a common objective. Then, they design a project backlog, a catalog of items, and the activities that each member must accomplish to help complete the whole project. After that, the team proceeds to talk about the backlog, other requirements, and the duration it will take to finalize the project.

The team divides the entire project into different sprints, which range from one to four weeks. Each sprint is supposed to take an average of two weeks, after which it must be reviewed. During evaluation, the team selects another item that should be developed in the subsequent sprint session. This process is repeated until the project is successfully completed. The team also holds daily Scrums to strategize for the day and help the team members remain focused.

Scrum is founded on three pillars: transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Scrum is adaptive in that it embraces transformation, and can, therefore, accommodate a project that changes the tactical direction. Transparency helps everybody in the team to be aware of what is happening in the project and why as well as the challenges being faced by their colleagues. All stakeholders and team members inspect projects on a regular basis, thereby cultivating a culture of incessant improvement.

Besides, Scrum is anchored on five core values, including focus, respect, commitment, courage, openness. These values underscore the significance of honest and clear communication, and a sense of accountability by all team members.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Scrum

This agile project management method comes with a number of benefits, such as:

  • It aids in the production of high-quality goods and services because team members are able to review the work already accomplished at different stages to identify low standards, weak points, errors, or security vulnerabilities that ought to be corrected. 
  • It encourages teamwork, thus allowing teams to work toward a shared objective. As a consequence, there is improved communication, cooperation, and development of robust relationships.
  • There is a high return on investment (ROI) because real-time feedback is integrated in the production process. The prevalence of errors and mistakes drops dramatically when feedback is properly incorporated. New ideas are also generated leading to faster processes and reduced utilization of time and resources.

This technique, nonetheless, has a number of shortcomings, like:

  • It requires maximum focus: Although full concentration might be advantageous, non-technical and newly-recruited workers may be unable to remain focused throughout the project.
  • Errors may arise due to poor definition of goals; thus, they must be clearly and accurately defined to ensure that all team members align with them to attain the desired results.
  • There might be challenges with pacing: The slowest team member determines when a project will be completed because the team must deliberate during the sprint reviews. 

Kanban Vs Scrum: Which One Should You Choose?

Both Kanban and Scrum have separate strengths and weaknesses as discussed above. Pitting Kanban vs. Scrum may leave you in a dilemma on which to use. Kanban has been found to increase productivity, improve visibility, and foster continuous improvement. You can use this technique for the existing processes if you don’t intend to overhaul the entire work process you have already implemented but only need the benefits that such an agile method can bring. Scrum, on the other hand, has been associated with increased productivity, lower costs, and higher quality. Many project managers have found Scrum to be very efficacious in handling complex projects or those that might experience frequent changes.

Kanban vs Scrum? Or You Should Move to a New-Age Playbook?

Before deciding whether or not to move to a new-age playbook, you should first consider the current needs of your business and the challenges it continually faces. Agile methods have continued to evolve over time while the newer frameworks, such as DevOps, Lean Agile, and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) have increasingly become more popular. These frameworks have been found to be effective in solving the complexities of huge projects and corporations and providing extra guidelines in project and organizational management. You should only adopt a new-age playbook after carefully assessing your company’s goals, its overall requirements, and the team dynamics and not merely comparing Kanban vs Scrum.

The choice to move to a new-age playbook should not be founded on what differentiates Kanban vs Scrum but you should consider various factors, such as the complexity of your projects, team preferences, customers’ demands, the need for flexibility and agility, and your firm’s size. You may need to experiment with various frameworks and iterate using the feedback from your team and the results before settling on a given playbook.

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