If you ask ten people to describe agile, nine of them will probably say Scrum. In fact, it is very likely that they are not even aware of the other agile frameworks. It makes sense—after all, there are only so many ways one can describe an activity. That being said, Scrug and Kwan (and perhaps others) differ in their approaches to scaling agile workflow. While Kanban does not require any changes to the working environment and thus can be adopted by teams with a less-than-ideal physical space, Scrum requires a lot more setup. However, once you have implemented the necessary changes in your organization, it will prove its worth for a long time. Let’s take a look at how these two stack up against each other.
What is a Kanban Board?
Kanbans are visualized boards that help teams prioritize work across all projects and functions. Instead of displaying tasks in one column and then the next, a Kanban board displays tasks in a column and then a card representing their priority. The goal is to use as few columns as possible to show as many tasks as possible. This allows teams to view their entire backlog as a whole and focus on the most important items first, while still allowing them to have full visibility into smaller projects. In addition to the visual prioritization, Kanbans allow the team to keep track of their current work. The board shows the tasks that are currently open and visible to everyone, which helps everyone stay on track.
What is a Scrum Team?
A scrum team is a group of people who work together on a project using the scrum framework. Alternatively, a scrum team could be made up of just two people working from home, who do not have a full-time office. The scrum framework was developed to help teams create products effectively. It provides a set of guiding principles that help teams follow a predictable process without sacrificing quality. The scrum framework has five essential parts: the product owner, the project manager, the scrum team, the daily scrum (or sprint), and the end of the project. The product owner is responsible for knowing the business goals and finding out what the customers need. This person has tremendous influence on the success of the product. The project manager is responsible for leading the scrum team through the process every single time. The scrum team is made up of the product owner, the development team, and the scrum master. The daily scrum is where the scrum master and the development team meet daily to plan the work for the next sprint. The end of the project is where the product owner and the project manager close out the project.
Key Differences Between Scrum and Kanban
Both Kanban and Scrum are tools for managing workflow in agile projects. The key differences are that Kanban is focused on using visual cues to assist with prioritizing work and Scrum is focused on how a team conducts its work together. That means that Kanban does not require any changes to the physical working environment, and Scrum requires a lot more setup. But once you have implemented the necessary changes in your organization, it will prove its worth for a long time.
Advantages of Scrum over Kanban
– Can Be Used in Any Environment – Kanban boards can be used in any environment where teams don’t require a dedicated physical space.
– Less Complex Setup – Scrum requires a lot more setup, but once implemented, it can be used with very little maintenance required.
– Stakeholder Management – Kanbans typically focus on the work itself, whereas Scrums are much more focused on stakeholders’ desires, needs, and expectations.
– Better Communication – The visual cues offered by Kanbans can be very helpful in communicating between teams and with stakeholders. However, the communication will be much more thorough and effective as a result of the added visual cues.
– Better Performance – Some estimates from a Kanban project show a 70% reduction in duration as compared to a project that uses a more traditional method.
– Easier to Scale – Once a Kanban project has scaled successfully, it could be used for similar projects as an extension of its existing processes.
Disadvantages of Scrum over Kanban
– More Complex Setup – Scrum requires a lot more setup, but once implemented, it can be used with very little maintenance required.
– Dev Team Does Not Fully Understand Requirements – Kanbans focus on the work itself, whereas Scrums are much more focused on stakeholders’ desires, needs, and expectations.
– More Complex Communication – The visual cues offered by Kanbans can be very helpful in communicating between teams and with stakeholders. However, the communication will be much more thorough and extended as a result of the added visual cues.
– More Expensive to Scale – The Kanban method requires fewer hardware and software investments as compared to Scrum.
These two frameworks are clearly very different from each other, but they each have their benefits. It all comes down to which approach works best for your organization, and the best way to find out is by trying both. If you are an Agile coach, manager, or consultant, you will find that Kanbans are a more accessible tool for helping your teams better understand their work. If you are an Agile team, it is ultimately up to you to decide which method will work best for your team. No matter which you choose, both have proven to be extremely effective in scaling agile business practices.
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