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Kanban, Scrum and Scrumban: What's the difference?

Kanban, Scrum and Scrumban: What's the difference?

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Understanding Agile Methodologies: An Introduction

Agile approaches have transformed the way we approach project management and software development. These frameworks have enabled teams to deliver high-quality products while focusing on adaptability, continuous improvement, and customer happiness. This article will discuss three widely used agile methodologies: Kanban, Scrum, and Scrumban. We examine their history, philosophy, processes, benefits, and drawbacks. Finally, we will advise on selecting the best methodology for your team.

What exactly is Kanban?

Kanban's Origins and Philosophy

Kanban, which means "billboard" or "sign" in Japanese, was developed in the 1940s with the Toyota Production System (TPS). Toyota manufacturing engineer Taiichi Ohno created this approach to boost production efficiency and decrease waste.

Kanban philosophy emphasizes visual management. It tries to make the workflow visible and transparent, allowing teams to understand their work, process, and any bottlenecks quickly. It is a pull system, meaning new work is only started when needed, preventing overproduction and managing work in progress (WIP).

How does Kanban function?

Kanban visualizes the process using a board known as a Kanban board. The board is split into phases (often "To Do," "In Progress," and "Done"), and tasks are represented by cards that move from one stage to the next as work progresses.

The limiting of WIP is an essential feature of Kanban. This means there can only be a limited number of jobs at any given time at a particular stage. The WIP cap allows teams to focus on completing activities rather than starting new ones, resulting in a seamless workflow.

Kanban Advantages

Kanban has various advantages. It is simple to understand and implement, making it an excellent alternative for teams who are new to agile approaches. It gives you insight into the workflow, allowing you to discover bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. Kanban's adaptability enables teams to adjust quickly to change without disrupting productivity.

Kanban constraints

Notwithstanding its advantages, Kanban has several drawbacks. It may not be ideal for large and complex projects because it lacks a structure for planning and estimating work. Furthermore, the simplicity of Kanban can lead to complacency and a lack of process improvement in the absence of discipline and transparent policies.

What exactly is Scrum?

Scrum's Roots and Philosophy

Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka introduced Scrum, another popular agile technique, in the 1986 Harvard Business Review article "The New Product Development Game." Subsequently, in the Scrum Handbook, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland codified the Scrum structure.

Scrum is founded on empirical evidence and lean thinking. He believes that knowledge is gained via experience and that decisions are made based on what is known. Scrum uses iterations, sometimes known as sprints, to establish a consistent rhythm of delivery and feedback.

What is the Scrum process?

Scrum divides work into small, manageable user stories. In the Product Backlog, these stories take precedence. The team then chooses a collection of high-priority stories to work on during the following sprint, which usually lasts 2-4 weeks.

Scrum has three significant roles: Product Owner (responsible for the product's vision and managing the product backlog), Scrum Master (facilitates Scrum processes and assists the team in improving), and Development Team (does the work of creating a potentially shippable product).

Scrum also includes ceremonies such as stand-ups (a quick team meeting to synchronize progress and plan the day's work), sprint planning (where the team determines what to work on in the upcoming sprint), sprint review (to review work), and sprint retrospective (to reflect on the previous sprint) ( to review the last sprint and plan improvements for the next sprint).

The Advantages of Scrum

The iterative approach of Scrum ensures frequent feedback and the capacity to react to change. Because of its adaptability, it is perfect for projects with fast-changing or evolving requirements. It promotes teamwork as well as constant improvement. In Scrum, accurate roles and responsibilities can also increase cooperation and communication.

Scrum constraints

Scrum, on the other hand, might be challenging to grasp and implement due to the predefined roles and events. This necessitates a massive cultural shift and the support of the entire organization. Furthermore, if the product backlog is not carefully controlled, Scrum can lead to scope creep, and it may not be appropriate for teams who cannot keep up with the regular sprint pace.

What exactly is Scrumban?

Scrumban is the result of combining Scrum and Kanban.

Scrumban is a hybrid agile technique that incorporates Scrum and Kanban principles. Corey Ladas proposed it in his book Scrumban: Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development.

Scrumban mixes Kanban's flexibility and visualization with Scrum's structure and roles. This collaboration offers a balanced approach that might benefit teams switching from Scrum to Kanban.

Scrumban works in what way?

Scrumban visualizes the workflow and limits work progress using a Kanban board. However, it incorporates Scrum Roles (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team) and Events (e.g., Daily Scrum). Instead of working in fixed-length sprints, work is constantly pulled from priority backlogs, and finished work items are delivered as they become available.

The Advantages of Scrumban

Scrumban delivers the Scrum framework while being flexible and focused on the Kanban flow. This can help teams manage their workflow and respond to change more effectively. Scrumban is also helpful for teams that find Scrum's fixed-length sprints too constraining but still want to structure their approach.

Scrumban restraints

The fundamental issue with Scrumban is that it is a hybrid of two techniques, making it more difficult to understand and implement. Teams may struggle to pick which Scrum and Kanban approaches to adopt. Scrumban demands a thorough understanding of both Scrum and Kanban.

Push vs. Pull Process Control in Kanban, Scrum, and Scrumban

Kanban and Scrumban use a pull approach to advance work to the next stage when an opportunity comes. This helps to keep work under control and prevents overload. On the other hand, Scrum is more of a pull approach in which work is planned and allocated to sprints, while teams can still use their sprint backlog within a sprint.

Visualization of Workflow

The necessity of workflow visualization is emphasized in all three techniques. Kanban and Scrumban make use of the Kanban board, a visual tool that indicates progress and aids in the identification of bottlenecks. Scrum frequently uses a comparable Scrum board, which is typically reset after each sprint.

Responsibilities and roles

Scrum has distinct roles for the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team. Kanban, which emphasizes collaborative team accountability, lacks these roles. Scrumban, as a hybrid, incorporates Scrum roles.

Iteration and sprint planning

Scrum is built on sprint iterations and includes extensive sprint planning. On the other hand, Kanban is continuous and does not have time-limited iterations or formal planning meetings. Scrumban combines these concepts by employing a continuous flow strategy and, when needed, scheduling.

Dealing with Changes and Backlogs

Changes are rarely done in the middle of a sprint in Scrum but are instead planned for the next sprint. Kanban enables adjustments to be made at any moment as long as the work in progress (WIP) limit is not exceeded. Scrumban combines these ideas and can react swiftly to change while benefiting from a prioritized backlog.

Kanban and Scrum Case Studies


  1. A hardware product development corporation utilized Kanban to bridge the gap between project portfolio and engineering operations. This enabled them to connect their R&D project portfolio with engineering operations, enhancing overall efficiency and productivity.

  2. Another example shows how Kanban increased a team's productivity in 12 months. This method has significantly improved the administration of several projects or services competing for resources, a prevalent issue in many organizations.

  3. Kanban, a worldwide project delivery firm, has boosted operational transparency. The team became more cohesive and worked better after three months of implementation.

  4. Kanban transformed the culture of an engineering firm. They chose Kanban because it simplified constructing and modifying their boards, allowing them to continuously improve their operations without incurring the extra cost of customizing the solution.

  5. GE Aviation Czech employed Kanban throughout its effort to develop new aircraft engines. The initial purpose was to track results. Yet, process mapping had an unforeseen but distinct effect: the team formed a shared understanding of how work was completed, which enhanced efficiency.

  6. Kanban also improved Jerónimo Palacios & Associates' lean and agile consulting. Implementing Kanban aided in improving internal collaboration, speeding up work, and maintaining an accurate Kanban process.

  7. Orlando's most famous theme park employed Kanban to track the parts and systems of all its attractions across many sites, solving the mess of email, written notes, and face-to-face communication."


  1. By deploying a dual operating system with Scrum@Scale, Safety Co., a firm with over $1 billion in yearly sales, it improved on-time delivery, ROI, and team efficiency.

  2. ABInBev used Scrum during the early planning stages of a $50 million building project and saved 15% without sacrificing volume or quality.

  3. Scrum has been embraced as a standard practice across OpenView Venture Partners' internal operations and throughout its portfolio firms, exhibiting its versatility and adaptability in various business scenarios.

  4. As working from home became the norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, retail startup Ministry of Supplies utilized Agile and Scrum@Scale to successfully advertise its items and brand 12 times quicker than the industry average.

  5. The John Deere Global IT Group successfully implemented a self-sustaining agile transformation that increased enterprise productivity by 165%, reduced time to market by 63%, and increased employee engagement and satisfaction, demonstrating the power of Scrum to drive large-scale organizational change.

  6. Saab used Scrum to build the fighter faster, cheaper, and better, demonstrating how Scrum can be used for highly complex and technologically tricky projects.

How to Select the Best Methodology for Your Team

The correct methodology can boost your team's efficiency, communication, and overall project outcomes. Various factors, including the needs of your team, the nature of your projects, and your organization's culture, determine the best agile strategy. Consider the following steps to help you make this critical decision:

  • Understand Your Team: Before settling on a methodology, it's critical to understand the dynamics, skills, and preferences of your team. Specific teams may thrive in a highly organized environment like Scrum, while others may benefit from Kanban's flexibility.

  • Establish Your Project Goals: Clearly outlining your project goals might assist you in selecting the best methodology. If your project necessitates frequent and tiny modifications, an approach such as Kanban may be appropriate. Scrum may be a better alternative if you have a project with a definite timetable and clear deliverables.

  • Assess the Difficulty of Your Project: The complexity and scale of the project are essential factors in determining the best methodology. Scrumban, for example, combines the structure of Scrum with the flexibility of Kanban and could be a good solution for complicated and long-term projects.

  • Evaluate Your Company Culture: Your organization's culture can impact your chosen methodology. Kanban or Scrumban may be more appropriate for a company prioritizing flexibility, continuous improvement, and customer input.

  • Examine Previous Projects: Consider the approaches employed in previous projects and how well they performed. This historical viewpoint might provide valuable insights into what would be most appropriate for your current project.

  • Involve Your Team: It is critical to involve your team in decision-making. After all, they will be the ones using the methods daily. Their feedback can provide practical insights that can help steer the selection process.

  • Try and Iterate: Remember that you are not obligated to stick with your first option. Iterative improvement is central to agile approaches. If your chosen method doesn't work as well as you hoped, don't hesitate to change your approach or move to a different methodology.

Identifying the Requirements of Your Team

Consider the size of your team, familiarity with agile methodologies, and work style. If your team is new to Agile, Kanban's simplicity can be an excellent starting point. Scrum is better suited to teams that value structure and well-defined roles. Here's how to identify your team's requirements in an Agile environment:

  • Agility and Adaptability: Evaluate your team's comfort level with change and adaptability. Agile approaches rely on reacting rapidly to changes in project requirements, client needs, or market conditions. The team's ability to pivot and adapt to changing conditions is critical.

  • Collaborative Skills: Agile approaches emphasize close collaboration among team members and stakeholders. This includes their ability to successfully communicate, settle disagreements, and collaborate toward common goals. Determine how successfully your team collaborates and interacts with others.

  • Self-Organization Skills: Agile teams are frequently self-organizing, so they can best decide how to complete their tasks. This necessitates high discipline, accountability, and initiative for team members. Evaluate your team's readiness and capacity to self-organize.

  • Constant Learning: Agile emphasizes continual improvement in the product and the team's procedures. Assess your team's willingness to learn, receive feedback, and make constant changes.

  • Client Focus: Agile places a significant emphasis on providing value to the customer. Examine your team's comprehension of this idea and ability to decide based on customer demands.

  • Technical Skills: While technical skills are required in any technique, specific Agile methods, such as Scrum, require particular roles, such as Scrum Master or Product Owner. Determine whether your squad has these skills or the ability to acquire them.

  • Tool Expertise: Agile techniques rely on project management tools such as Kanban boards or backlog management systems. Assess whether your team is familiar with these tools or willing to learn.

  • Work Style: Some teams may enjoy the structure and certainty afforded by traditional project management approaches, whereas others may flourish in Agile methodologies' more fluid and dynamic atmosphere. Knowing your team's preferred work style might assist you in selecting the best Agile technique.

Knowing these elements guarantees that your Agile methodology corresponds with your team's needs and work style, laying the groundwork for successful project execution.

Determining the Size of Your Project

The nature of your projects is also significant. Scrum's elasticity can be advantageous for projects with frequently changing requirements. Kanban can be helpful if you're working on a project where maintaining a consistent workflow and effectively eliminating bottlenecks is critical.

The size of your project is crucial when choosing an Agile methodology because different techniques are better suited to different project sizes. These are some things to think about:

  • Scope of Work: The scope includes all that must be done to complete the project. This comprises the project's tasks, activities, deliverables, and resources. A broader breadth of work frequently implies a larger project size.

  • Duration: The time required to execute a project can also indicate its size. Longer projects frequently include more tasks and deliverables, making them more prominent.

  • Complexity: The complexity of a project can influence its size. Complex processes, advanced technology, or several departments may be considered larger projects due to the additional effort necessary to manage and coordinate these parts.

  • Resources: The project's scale may be indicated by the required resources, such as team members, money, and materials. Larger projects often demand a more significant number of resources.

  • Stakeholders: The number of stakeholders in a project may also be used to estimate its magnitude. Projects involving multiple stakeholders are typically larger because they necessitate more communication, coordination, and management.

You can better evaluate which Agile technique is most appropriate once you've identified the scale of your project. Scrum, for example, is frequently used for projects of medium complexity and size, whereas Kanban is best suited for smaller projects or continuing maintenance work. Bigger and more complicated projects may benefit from Scrumban or Scaled Agile Framework methodologies (SAFe).

Conclusion: Utilizing Agile to Handle Projects Effectively

Kanban, Scrum, and Scrumban take different approaches to work management and value development. The first step in selecting the best methodology for your team is to understand the distinctions between them.

Remember that the goal is not to rigorously stick to a specific approach but to create an environment where your team can produce high-quality goods for their clients. Take an agile approach to continuous learning and improvement, and adjust your process as you learn more about your team and the job you accomplish.