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Kanban and Scrum – Is there a better one?

  • Methodologies

Things that seem obvious to those who have been in agility for some time are not quite simple to understand for those who are starting now.

And with it in mind, we are going to talk about the differences – and the alphabet soup – between Scrum and Kanban.

What is agility? 

Agility proposes quick adaptation to changes plus focus on the customer, among other points that we will not go into deep here, but if you got interested, click here to learn more about the Agile Manifesto.

What are the differences between Kanban and Scrum?

Scrum and Kanban are two sets of Agile practices, Scrum is a framework, and Kanban is a method.

The first fundamental difference between them is that Kanban proposes that you start with what you have and evolve, making an evolutionary method of it. Scrum is prescriptive, having a “cake recipe” to be implemented by the book to achieve the initiative’s success.

At Scrum, the roles are defined: the PO –product owner – meets the client halfway, the SM – Scrum Master – who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Scrum Guide and Timebox Control – and the Scrum Team – a self-managed team responsible for creating the increment. Besides, there are well-defined events and timeboxes for each of them. Scrum events are: Sprint, Planning, Daily, Review and Retro.

What are the similarities between Kanban and Scrum?

There are a couple of similarities between Kanban and Scrum. Among them it is possible to highlight:

– Daily (Scrum) x Kanban Meeting: daily meeting to discuss actions to remove impediments;

– Review (Scrum) x Service-Delivery Review: check if deliveries meet customers’ expectations.

But, in general, Kanban does not define roles or require ceremonies to be accomplished. However, a cadence suggestion includes Replenishment, which is the replenishment of the system with new activities, deciding which activities from the backlog will be executed.

How do Kanban and Scrum deliveries work?

Kanban allows a continuous flow of work and deliveries, in which any free member of the team can take an activity to do, and deliveries can be made as soon as the flow of activities is over. Unlike Scrum, which foresees the definition of the deliveries that will happen during Sprint, these deliveries are only accomplished at the end of the Sprint.

To ensure this continuous flow of Kanban, a work-in-progress limit, better known as a WIP limit, is recommended. The WIP limit is important to finish the job and not just start it – “Stop starting, start finishing,” “forcing” collaboration and search for a solution.

It does not aim to be an exhaustive list of differences between Scrum and Kanban, but we can see that both have positive points! 

Context tips that suit each one best: Scrum – if the team needs help with roles, responsibilities and well-defined timeboxes, if the project demands a certain degree of planning and when there is sponsorship from the management; Kanban – if the company does not want to make major sudden changes and if we are seeking process improvement by addressing processes and flows.

Scrumban: what is it and how to use it?

What if we didn’t have to choose just one? That’s what happens with Scrumban!

Previously, Scrumban was a transition technique from Scrum to Kanban, but currently, Scrumban is seen as the evolution of Scrum with the support of Kanban practices! Basically, the most updated Scrum implemented is used, with ceremonies and roles, and it seeks to evolve with transparency in the flow, hard work and WIP limit, because as Kanban states: you start from your current state and evolve. The benefits are several, such as continuous improvement, minimizing waste and decreasing waiting time.

In short: Scrum and Kanban have benefits and can help your team perform better! And we don’t need to choose just one of them, we can see what fits in each one’s context and implement it, evolving little by little – slowly but surely, as our grandmothers would say!

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