Kanban vs Scrum
Kanban vs Scrum : Both Kanban and Scrum are popular frameworks for managing and improving work processes, and they both fall under the broader category of Agile methodologies. However, they have different focuses and practices. Here’s a comparison of the two:
1. Origin & Purpose:
- Kanban: Originated in the Japanese manufacturing sector, particularly at Toyota, as a way to manage workflow and improve efficiency in production lines. It has since been adapted to knowledge work like software development. Its primary goal is to manage work by balancing demand with available capacity and improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks.
- Scrum: Originated in software development as a framework to address complex adaptive problems, while delivering products of the highest possible value. It structures development in cycles of work called sprints, usually lasting 2-4 weeks.
2. Work Organization:
- Kanban: Work items are visualized on a board (Kanban board), moving from left to right through columns that represent stages of a process. The focus is on continuous flow.
- Scrum: Work is organized into “sprints” of a fixed length, typically 2-4 weeks, where a set amount of work is committed and then delivered. Work is visualized on a Scrum board, but it is reset at the beginning of each sprint.
- Kanban: No specific roles are prescribed. The team is expected to collaborate and ensure work flows smoothly through the board.
- Scrum: Has specific roles – Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development Team.
4. Work Limitation:
- Kanban: Uses Work In Progress (WIP) limits to limit the amount of work in any given column or stage of the process. This helps highlight bottlenecks and ensures smooth flow.
- Scrum: The work is limited by the length of the sprint. Teams commit to a certain amount of work for that sprint and strive to complete it in the given time frame.
5. Meetings & Ceremonies:
- Kanban: There are no prescribed ceremonies, but teams often hold regular stand-up meetings to discuss the board and any obstacles. Additionally, they may have retrospective meetings, but not necessarily at fixed intervals.
- Scrum: Has prescribed ceremonies – Daily Scrum (stand-up), Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.
6. Changes & Flexibility:
- Kanban: Changes can be made at any time, as there are no fixed-length iterations. If a high-priority item emerges, it can be added to the board immediately.
- Scrum: While the sprint is ongoing, changes are generally discouraged. The scope for the sprint is expected to remain stable.
7. Metrics & Reporting:
- Kanban: Key metrics include lead time, cycle time, throughput, and WIP.
- Scrum: Common metrics include velocity (number of story points or backlog items completed in a sprint), burndown charts, and sprint reviews.
- Kanban: Often seen as more flexible and easier to implement because of its continuous flow and absence of prescribed roles or ceremonies.
- Scrum: Can be more rigid due to its fixed roles, ceremonies, and sprint durations, but this structure can also provide clarity and discipline.
Which to Choose?
The choice between Kanban and Scrum depends on the nature of the work, the challenges faced by the team, and the team’s preferences. Some teams even combine elements of both approaches in what is sometimes called “Scrumban”. It’s essential to understand the principles behind each framework and adapt them to fit the unique needs of the team and the work at hand.