Kanban vs. Scrum: Discover Which Works for You


15 min read


Kanban vs. Scrum: Discover Which Works for You

15 min read


Kanban and Scrum are two preferred methods to use in Agile frameworks. Both options are popular for software development teams. Scrum has specific roles and ceremonies. Its focus is on delivering bite-sized batches of work. Kanban focuses on visualizing workflow and works in progress. Both methods emphasize continuous improvement in different ways.

To understand how Kanban and Scrum can help develop a project, you need to understand what they are first. Both methods are ways to implement Agile practices, so what is Agile?

What Does It Mean Being Agile?

Agile is a set of principles that helps deploy a product. Deployment is fast and incentivizes client participation. These are the main differences between Agile and traditional approaches, like Waterfall.

Agile teams measure progress in small increments instead of at the end of the project. These increments allow continuous improvement of the project. As a result, it is easier to make changes and adjustments.

Agile teams consist of small numbers of people assigned to a project. Most Team members work on a full-time basis. By having the team develop and deploy the product, everyone shares accountability. In other words, one individual alone is not responsible for the results of the effort. The whole team is.

An Agile team must have members prepared to fulfill every need of the project. The members of an Agile team need to fulfill every requirement for the project. Some members will deal with technical requirements, such as programming, designing, and testing. Others will be in charge of business requirements, such as knowledge of the domain and having decision-making powers. Roles are not rigid. Agile focuses on what is best to get results.

Agile methodology use iterations. An Agile iteration consists of a short lapse of time. During this time, a part of the team develops a part of the project and tests it. Every iteration has an expiration date. The expiration date is when the team is expected to complete its goals. According to the Scaled Agile Framework, “iterations are the building block of Agile development.” The length of an iteration depends on the velocity of the team and the size of the project.

Iterations are one of the main reasons Agile frameworks have become so popular. An iteration (or a Sprint, as they call it in Scrum) allows continuous deployment. Continuous deployment helps the product development cycle. Scrum focuses on small and manageable increments, and these increments make it easy to adjust and change the project when necessary.


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What is the Scrum Framework?

The word "Scrum" is usually associated with Rugby. In the context of software development, it refers to an Agile-centric practice. Scrum can be used by organizations, businesses, or individuals. It breaks down complex and complicated projects into smaller increments. When the team completes a part of the project in a specific block of time it is called a “sprint.”

Scrum is best for complex projects that need to adapt to changes during production. The method divides projects into sprints. These are short development cycles that last between two and four weeks.

Scrum teams are self-organized and small and include a Scrum Master and a Product Owner. The rest of the team members are called Development Team.

By nature, sprints are iterative. Teams work on and deliver small tasks in stages. The advantages of using Scrum are rooted in three principles:

  • Adaptation. Scrum uses sprints, which makes it easy to make changes during production.

  • Transparency. Scrum allows every team member to know how the project is going and what they need to do.

  • Inspection. Team members and stakeholders oversee the progress constantly. The client's active participation encourages team members to improve constantly.

Scrum operates based on these five values: courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness. Scrum incentivizes communication within the team. Increased communication creates a sense of ownership of the project by every team member.

What Are the Benefits of Using Scrum?

Where Kanban focuses on continuous flow, Scrum focuses on learning from experience. The team makes decisions based on information gathered during the process and customer feedback. Data is analyzed continuously through each sprint. Constant analysis helps the team improve product quality as they go. These are some of the advantages offered by Scrum:

  1. Fast release of the product to users. Development happens simultaneously rather than sequentially. Simultaneous development allows different team members to work on different stages of the project at the same time.

  2. Higher quality products. Scrum offers high adaptability to change. Any necessary changes are easy to implement before product deployment. As a result, the overall quality of the final product is higher.

  3. Higher productivity and lower costs. In Scrum, tasks are prioritized based on the order of importance. As a result, products are deployed faster and with lower expenses.

  4. Flexibility to change. The development team is crucial when applying the Scrum methodology. For the team, the goal is to complete the sprint as soon as possible by prioritizing tasks. The goal is to have the product ready for deployment sooner than later. The team has to be prepared to make changes and adapt, apply the changes, and move on to the next sprint.

  5. Higher user satisfaction. Usable portions of the product are released continuously. This way, the product reaches the client faster and regularly. Scrum is designed to be adaptable. If the client submits a request for changes to the original design, it is relatively easy to do so.

Although Kanban and Scrum are different methodologies, they can be used together. This is called Scrumban. This methodology is popular with teams adopting Agile frameworks. It takes on techniques from both methods to optimize product development.


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What is Kanban Method?

Kanban uses principles from both Lean and Agile frameworks. It defines, manages, and improves the software development cycle. This method helps the team work visually, maximize efficiency, and continuously improve.

At the core of the Kanban method is the Kanban Board. This board can be physical or digital. The Kanban board allows the team to visualize the production process.

What is a Kanban Board?

Since Kanban emphasizes visualization, teams use boards to keep track of the tasks they need to complete. These are called Kanban Boards. A kanban board can be a physical board with sticky notes or a digital one with different sections highlighted in different colors.

In a Kanban board, the different phases of the project are represented as columns. The team writes each task on a card that helps track progress from one column to the next. Eat column can be labeled as a “to do,” “in progress,” or “done.” The team labels each task this way until the project is over.

The benefit of a Kanban board is that it allows team members to see what tasks they need to finish. It also allows Kanban Users to watch the amount of time each task takes to move across the board. Kanban's focus is on velocity helps continuous deployment. It also allows the team to prioritize tasks, optimize their work, and handle complex projects.

Advantages of Kanban

Kanban methodology has many benefits. Among them:

  1. It makes the whole development cycle more transparent. Kanban helps prioritize tasks. With Kanban, teams determine which tasks need to be completed and in what order. Kanban helps teams understand their tasks and allows for better planning.

  2. Flexibility and Responsiveness. Kanban's focus is on the tasks in progress. It adds new work for the top of the Backlog to the Kanban board. The Kanban Board allows the team to visualize the path to product deployment. Each team member knows which task they need to complete and can prioritize their time accordingly.

  3. Increased Output. In Kanban, the entire team is responsible for the workflow. This means optimizing cycle time, which allows the team to better plan the delivery of work.

  4. Resource Allocation. The Kanban method makes it easier to allocate resources to the right task. Kanban increases the visibility of flow. It also enhances delivery speed and helps align business objectives, key results, and the delivery of the project.

  5. Continuous deployment. Kanban allows for both continuous integration and continuous flow. By using the Kanban method, teams can improve their work continuously. Continuous improvement results in delivering a better product. The result is increased productivity and efficiency.


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What is the Difference Between Kanban and Scrum?

Scrum is a method that helps structure the team and their schedule. Kanban is a visualization method that can be used with different tools. When implementing Agile frameworks, the project manager needs to decide which approach to take.

Both Kanban and Scrum have their fair share of supporters, but neither method is superior. Both are considered Agile frameworks, but they are not the same. Each method has different values and establishes different priorities. It’s important to understand these differences to decide the best option for a project.

Scheduling Cadence

In Agile frameworks, cadence is concerned with how long a sprint or iteration lasts. Essentially, it is the duration of a specific part of the project. Cadence affects sprint planning. This metric is important when deciding which project management method to use.

Scrum focuses on speed by combining speed and efficiency. Kanban uses Kanban boards and focuses on the flow of the project. This doesn’t mean that Kanban is slow; it means that Kanban is designed to allow team members to adapt and make any necessary changes during development, not at the end.

Important Metrics

Both Kanban and Scrum offer useful metrics. These metrics can help teams track how the project is advancing and whether or not it is successful.

Kanban Metrics Kanban is all about flow and how to keep it constant. The biggest concern for this method is the creation of bottlenecks. This is the reason Kanban has a Work In Progress (WIP) limit. WIP is a crucial metric. It prevents too many projects from being labeled “in progress.” This way, it avoids the creation of bottlenecks that would slow down the development process.

Another metric Kanban offers is the Cumulative Flow Diagram or CFD. This metric also helps prevent bottlenecks. The CFD helps the team visualize the workflow. This makes it easier for every team member to keep track of each item’s progress.

Kanban may not emphasize speed as much as Scrum does, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t concerned with it. Lead time and cycle time are metrics utilized in Kanban. They help teams shorten the completion time of their projects.

Scrum Metrics Scrum measures outcome success by measuring velocity and the number of story points achieved during a sprint. Scrum uses story points instead of setting hard deadlines based on time and date. As a result, teams are only required to commit to taking on as much backlog as they consider reasonable. For example, if a team has a velocity of 25 points, it would struggle to get through a backlog of 45 points.

Measuring velocity in this way, allows teams to choose their workload for each sprint.

Philosophy Concerning Change Both Kanban and Scrum are considered Agile, but both methodologies handle change differently.

Teams using the Scrum method take the need for changes into consideration at the end of the process. Kanban teams, on the other hand, adapt to change as needed, not only at the end.

Software Tools

Both methods are different, and both use different programs that fulfill different needs.

Kanban users need software that will allow them to observe the process and each of the steps involved. The most popular project management tools in the market today are Kanban-friendly.

Kanban teams need a product that prevents bottlenecks. Some of the most popular Kanban-friendly software include:

As for Scrum teams, not only do they rely on software to help with sprints. They also need tools like backlog management and Scrum boards. Both of these are incredibly helpful. Some of the most popular Scrum software include:

Not all programs out there are exclusive to one method or the other. Jira Software and Trello are recommended for both Kanban and Scrum teams.

To make an informed decision, it is necessary to take a closer look at each method and what they entail.


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Kanban or Scrum, Which One is the Perfect Fit?

Both methods are effective. Both methods have a lot of benefits from a project management perspective. To decide which method is best for a team, it is necessary to take the following factors into account:

Level of Maturity in Agile

Is the team used to a culture of continuous deployment? Scrum has a higher level of overseeing, as it requires meetings at the beginning and end of a sprint. These meetings can help a less-experienced team learn the methodology and use it to its full potential. For a more experienced team, Kanban might be a better option, since the team is already disciplined enough to plan and meet as needed.

Level of Expected Change

There are important questions to ask before choosing one method over the other. These include: How much change is expected during production? Is it feasible to create two-week sprints with the workload? Also, how important is it for the organization to respond to changes in the market?

Kanban is very popular with maintenance and support teams. It helps manage the unpredictable amount of work they receive. When high-priority issues come up, they may need to be handled immediately. This makes Kanban the best choice in these situations.

Scrum works better for a less mature team that doesn’t require as many changes during production. In this case, establishing priorities and completing the work is the key. Scrum excels in helping with these tasks.

How Effective is the Existing Process?

Is the team working efficiently? If a team is working well, then is it really necessary to change the methodology? Also, consider team dynamics and cohesiveness.


If you are switching from Waterfall to Agile, meeting deadlines can be a challenge. Agile deadlines are more loosely defined. For a less experienced team, Scrum’s regular meetings make the transition easier.

Capacity for Change

Is your organization ready to make these changes? For example, different roles will need different training sessions. Is your organization ready to do that? How much training would you need to do for the team? Once you know the answer to these questions, it will be easier to look at both methodologies and make an informed decision.

Experience Estimating Workload

Both methods allow teams to break work down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Teams new to Agile will find Scrum is an easier transition. This is because it encourages constant communication within the team. If the team is more experienced in Agile or has been together longer, Kanban might be a better fit.

##Conclusion The decision to use Scrum or Kanban comes down to two factors: Team maturity and the expected level of change for the project. For teams that are new to Agile and for projects that require lots of changes, Scrum might be a better option. On the other hand, for an experienced team expecting high levels of change Kanban might be a better fit.

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