Kanban vs. Scrum: Which to Use

Which framework works best: Kanban or Scrum? If you are on the verge of a brand new project, I bet this question has posed quite the challenge to your mind.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a framework that helps to visualize and monitor work. The framework was founded in the 1950s by Taiichi Ohno, the father of Toyota Production System, and served to improve manufacturing efficiency.

Kanban is a framework built on Agile principles that are transparent, well balanced, and contributes greatly to the organization of the work of even a big team. As it is very flexible, Kanban can be easily adapted to the needs of a team, especially if the priorities quickly change.

What is Scrum?

The Scrum approach was inspired by a rugby game. The founders, Hirotaka Takeuchi, and Ikujiro Nonaka described Scrum as an approach that should increase the speed and flexibility of a development process. The core principles of Scrum are to split and optimize.

Scrum is one of the frameworks used in Agile methodology. It was successfully used and documented, and eventually became a foundation of Agile programming.

Scrum and Kanban Similarities

Kanban and Scrum are well aligned with the Lean Philosophy and Agile Manifesto tenets. This means that they have some things in common, namely:

  • Flexibility
  • Limiting work in progress
  • Empirical process
  • Pull scheduling
  • Visualization
  • Early and continuous delivery
  • Self-organized teams
  • Breaking down the work into small, concrete tasks

Difference Between Scrum and Kanban

Let’s try to compare these two and highlight the unique aspects of Scrum and Kanban frameworks by the following criteria:

  • roles and responsibilities within each framework
  • measurement of productivity
  • cadence
  • release methodology
  • types of meetings
  • change philosophy
  • key metrics

Features of Scrum Workflow

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Product Owner -sets the motion vector of the product development
  • Scrum Master -leads the process and removes impediments
  • The development team -consists of individuals who implement tasks and produce software code

Measurement of productivity - measures velocity (i.e. the number of story points a team can develop per sprint).

Cadence - consists of iterations called sprints.

Types of Meetings)- presupposes having 4 types of meetings: planning, daily, demo, and retrospective.

Release methodology - the release should be an outcome of every sprint.

Change philosophy - the scope of iteration is fixed.

Key metrics - burnout charts are built based on velocity.

Unique Aspects of the Kanban Process

Roles and Responsibilities -no specific roles prescribed.

Measurement of productivity - cycle (lead) time is measured.

Cadence- based upon continuous workflow.

Types of Meetings- meetings are optional.

Release methodology -allows for the release of updates as soon as they are ready.

Change philosophy -very flexible to changes.

Key metrics -main measurable unit is cycle time.

Pros and Cons of Scrum and Kanban Management

Scrum Methodology

+Allows a team to move fast and to have early results.

+Each Scrum sprint cycle lasts not very long, so releases can be made quickly and feedback from the first adopters are earlier taken into consideration.

-Scrum process may not seem to be so lean, as there are many things that are prescribed.

Kanban Methodology

+Perfect tool to sort out this mess and make the process as sound and efficient as possible.

+Works perfectly for ongoing projects where new tasks and changes come together in a row.

-Work in progress is limited, so if any task is blocked for any reason this can lead to a blockage.

Using Kanban with Scrum: Is it Possible?

There is an option to combine both methods and is called Scumban. This uses Scrum as its base, with a few Kanban distinctions:

  • there are no predefined roles
  • iterations are usually kept short
  • all the tasks are put on the board
  • work in progress limit, like in Kanban, is applied

Top Kanban and Scrum Tools

Jira Atlassian




Which Methodology to Choose

Neither of these frameworks is perfect nor complete. Thus, in software development, the framework should be adapted to the needs of each specific project.

This is a brief summary of an article published on MLSDev blog. If you would like to learn more details about Scrum and Kanban, read the full article.



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#IT #outsourcing. #Mobile and #Web Apps #Development. #iOS. #Android