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Comparing Scrumban vs Kanban: Differences and Similarities

In the fast-paced world of project management, understanding the differences and similarities between popular agile methodologies can be invaluable. Scrumban and Kanban are two such methodologies that offer unique benefits and challenges.


In this blog post, we will explore the key aspects, advantages, and limitations of “Scrumban vs Kanban”, providing you as project managers with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about which methodology best suits your team and project needs.


Scrumban vs Kanban Key Takeaways

  • Scrumban and Kanban share similarities such as focus on continuous improvement, visualization, and pull systems.

  • Key differences include planning approach, team roles/structure, iterations/workflow & board management.

Criteria

Kanban

Scrumban

Focus

Flow efficiency

Combines structure of Scrum and flow of Kanban

Roles

Optional

Scrum roles often used

Time Box

No Sprints

Sprints are optional

Boards

Kanban Board

Scrumban Board

WIP Limits

Yes

Yes

Meetings

As needed

More structure, often follows Scrum approach

Flexibility

High

Moderate

Prioritisation

Continuously

Iteration planning + continuous

Scaling

Native capability

Uses Scrum scaling framework if needed

Metrics

Cycle Time, Throughput

Combines metrics from Scrum & Kanban


Understanding Scrumban and Kanban

Scrumban and Kanban are both examples of agile methodology that have gained popularity in recent years due to their adaptability and focus on continuous improvement.


While they share some similarities, there are also several key differences that set them apart. Teams seeking to enhance their project management processes and optimize workflow will benefit from a thorough comprehension of these methodologies.


Scrumban is a hybrid approach that combines the structure of Scrum with the flexibility and visualization of Kanban. This unique combination allows teams to reap the benefits of both methodologies, leading to increased adaptability and more efficient processes.


On the other hand, Kanban is a visual workflow management method that emphasizes continuous improvement and minimizing work in progress. The core principles of Kanban focus on visualization, limiting work in progress, and managing the flow of tasks, making it a popular choice for project management in various industries.


Scrumban Explained

Scrumban combines the agility of Scrum with the simplicity of Kanban, allowing teams to maintain a balance between structure and flexibility.


Scrum vs Kanban vs Scrumban Diagram
Scrum vs Kanban vs Scrumban


Like Scrum, Scrumban employs specific roles for team members, such as the Product Owner and Scrum Master, and follows a similar sprint planning process. However, it also incorporates elements of Kanban, such as the use of Kanban boards for visualization and adaptability.



A Standard Scrum Model
A Standard Scrum Model


The benefits of Scrumban are numerous, including:

  • Facilitating the transition of existing Scrum teams to Kanban and explore lean methodologies

  • Employing a pull principle, which means that tasks are not assigned by a project manager. Instead, each team member selects which task to complete next from the “To Do” column, based on priorities and capacity

  • Encouraging team members to take ownership of their work and fosters a culture of continuous improvement

Kanban Board Explained

The Kanban method, on the other hand, is a methodology that focuses on visualizing workflows and limiting work in progress to help teams become more agile and efficient.


By breaking down complex problems with intertwined workflows into smaller components and visualizing these components on a shared board in real-time, Kanban allows teams to stay aligned on objectives while maintaining focus.


A kanban board
A kanban board


Kanban’s core practices revolve around continuous improvement, making it an ideal choice for support and maintenance teams looking to monitor their progress and efficiency.


Performance metrics like the Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) and Lead Cycle time are often employed in Kanban to help teams identify areas for improvement and ensure that they are delivering value to their customers in the most efficient way possible.


Key Differences Between Scrumban and Kanban

Key differences between scrumban and kanban

Discerning the key variations between Scrumban and Kanban is vital for teams to make knowledgeable decisions about the most suitable methodology for their needs. These differences include:

  • Planning approach

  • Team roles and structure

  • Iterations and workflow

  • Board management

The subsequent sections will provide an in-depth comparison of Scrumban and Kanban, further exploring their differences.


Planning Approach

One of the primary differences between Scrumban and Kanban lies in their approach to planning. Scrumban organizes tasks into one to four-week sprints, with planning initiated when the planning trigger is activated, which is associated with the number of tasks remaining in the “To Do” section of the board.


This allows team members to choose tasks based on priorities and capacity. During the planning event, it is recommended to prioritize tasks by assigning numbers to the tasks or ordering them by priority in the column.


When comparing different project management methodologies, the debate of “kanban vs” other approaches often arises. Kanban, in contrast, emphasizes continuous flow and provides the option to prioritize tasks.


With no predefined iterations, Kanban teams operate continuously while setting either short or longer-term goals, with only a few constraints on their workflow.


This approach allows for greater flexibility in responding to changes in priorities or customer needs, making it an attractive option for teams that need to adapt quickly to evolving requirements.


Team Roles and Structure - Scrum Team & Scrum Master?

Another key difference between Scrumban and Kanban is the way they handle team roles and structure. Scrumban, like Scrum, has more clearly defined roles, such as the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Team Members, allowing for a structured approach to project management.


In contrast, Kanban has fewer prescribed roles and encourages collaboration among team members, focusing on the shared responsibility of managing the workflow and completing tasks.


This distinction in team roles and structure is a crucial aspect to consider when evaluating scrum vs other project management methodologies.


This distinction in team roles and structure can have a significant impact on how teams operate and collaborate. For example, in Scrumban, the Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the team follows the Scrum framework and resolves any obstacles that may arise during the project.


In Kanban, however, no specific role is responsible for the overall workflow, and each team member is responsible for their own steps in the process. This difference allows Kanban teams to foster a more collaborative environment and a greater sense of ownership over their work.


Iterations and Workflow - Sprint Planning?

The approach to iterations and workflow is another area where Scrumban and Kanban differ. In Scrum, the estimated hours of planned work items must not exceed the duration of the sprint, while Kanban and Scrumban employ Work-In-Progress (WIP) limits to regulate the amount of tasks that can be handled concurrently.


This makes Scrumban and Kanban suitable for cross-functional teams, as they can better manage their workloads and adjust to changes in priorities or customer needs.

Scrumban incorporates defined iterations with a board structure similar to that of Kanban, allowing teams to benefit from the flexibility and visualization that Kanban offers while still adhering to the time-boxed structure of Scrum.


On the other hand, Kanban does not have any predefined iterations and instead employs a continuous board, providing teams with greater flexibility in managing their workflow and responding to changes in priorities or customer needs.


Board Management

Board management is another area where Scrumban and Kanban diverge. Scrumban boards combine elements of Scrum and Kanban boards, allowing teams to visualize their workflow in a way that is both structured and adaptable.


Tasks are organized into backlogs and workflow stages, with work-in-progress limits set to ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner.


Kanban boards, on the other hand, focus on visualizing the workflow and limiting work in progress to help teams become more agile and efficient.


By breaking down complex problems with intertwined workflows into smaller components and visualizing these components on a shared kanban board in real-time, Kanban allows teams to stay aligned on objectives while maintaining focus.


The simplicity and adaptability of Kanban boards make them an attractive option for teams that need to respond quickly to changing priorities or customer needs.


Key Similarities Between Scrumban and Kanban

Key Similarities between scumban and kanban

Despite their differences, Scrumban and Kanban also share several key similarities that make them both effective methodologies for project management.


Both methodologies emphasize continuous improvement, visualization, and pull systems, allowing teams to optimize their workflow and adapt to changing priorities or customer needs.


The next sections will delve into these similarities more thoroughly, shedding light on the shared principles of Scrumban and Kanban.


Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a cornerstone of both Scrumban and Kanban methodologies, enabling collaborative transformation based on factual data, metrics, and feedback.


By regularly reviewing and refining the process and workflow of a team, continuous improvement promotes a culture of ongoing learning and adaptation, enabling teams to make incremental improvements to their work practices and ultimately produce better results.


Testing hypotheses is integral in achieving continuous improvement, as it facilitates ongoing improvement by validating or disproving assumptions about the effectiveness of the team’s workflow and processes.


By continually analyzing data and metrics, teams can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven adjustments to their workflow, ultimately enhancing their efficiency and productivity.


Visualization

Visualization is another key aspect of both Scrumban and Kanban, using boards to display tasks and progress in a clear and easily understandable way.


This visualization helps teams stay organized and focused on their goals while providing a real-time overview of the project’s progress. By making the workflow visible, teams can better identify bottlenecks, allocate resources more effectively, and ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner.


In both methodologies, boards are organized into columns that represent different stages of the workflow, with tasks represented as cards that move from one column to another as they progress through the process.


This visual representation of the workflow enables teams to quickly identify the status of tasks and make informed decisions about prioritization and resource allocation.


Pull Systems

Pull systems are another common feature of both Scrumban and Kanban methodologies, allowing team members to choose tasks based on priorities and capacity.


This contrasts with a push system, which involves pushing work onto teams regardless of their capacity. Pull systems help prevent team overburden and increase workflow efficiency, ensuring that tasks are completed in a timely manner and resources are allocated effectively.


By allowing team members to select tasks according to their priorities and capacity, pull systems and experienced teams foster a sense of ownership and responsibility for the work. This encourages team members to:

  • Take the initiative in choosing and completing tasks

  • Improve their time management skills

  • Increase their productivity

  • Collaborate more effectively with their teammates

  • Feel more engaged and motivated in their work

Ultimately, pull systems lead to more efficient workflows and better project outcomes.


When to Choose Scrumban or Kanban

Choosing between Scrumban and Kanban ultimately depends on the unique requirements of your development team and the factors that team members choose to consider.


These factors may include the project’s scope, the team’s structure, and the desired level of flexibility in the development process.


The upcoming sections will tackle the particular factors that might affect your choice of Scrumban or Kanban, supplemented with instances where each methodology could be most fitting.


Factors to Consider

Scrumban is well-suited for teams that need to maintain a balance between structure and flexibility, as well as for large projects that involve collaboration across teams.

By combining the structured approach of Scrum with the adaptability of Kanban, Scrumban allows teams to manage their workloads effectively while remaining agile and responsive to changing priorities or customer needs.


On the other hand, Kanban is an ideal choice for teams with consistent processes and a preference for flexibility and experimentation. Kanban’s focus on visualizing workflows and limiting work in progress makes it particularly suitable for teams that need to respond quickly to changes in priorities or customer needs, such as support and maintenance teams, or teams working on projects with a high volume of requests of varying priority and size.


Choosing Scrumban

Scrumban may be the ideal choice for software development teams that require a balance between structure and flexibility, as well as for large projects that involve cross-team collaboration.


Examples of situations where Scrumban is particularly beneficial include software development, marketing, and customer service teams. By combining the structure of Scrum with the adaptability and visualization of Kanban, Scrumban allows teams to manage their workloads effectively while remaining agile and responsive to changing priorities or customer needs.


Before implementing Scrumban, it is important to ensure that your team is properly trained in the methodology and understands the benefits of combining Scrum and Kanban elements. Providing guidance on how to prioritize tasks, set work-in-progress limits, and hold daily stand-up meetings will enable your less experienced team members to effectively adopt Scrumban and reap the benefits of this hybrid approach.


Choosing Kanban

Kanban is an attractive option for teams that prefer greater flexibility in their workflow and wish to focus on continuous improvement and experimentation. Some examples of situations where Kanban is particularly beneficial include projects with a high volume of requests of varying priority and size, customer-driven development, and shorter project timelines.


Implementing Kanban requires a commitment to continuous improvement, experimentation, and analytics.


To begin, follow these steps:

  1. Assess the project requirements and gain an understanding of the Kanban methodology.

  2. Decide the most suitable approach to implement Kanban in your organization.

  3. Visualize workflows to make them more transparent and manageable.

  4. Set work-in-progress limits to prevent bottlenecks and improve efficiency.

  5. Manage the flow of tasks to ensure smooth progress and timely completion.

By following these steps, your team can effectively adopt Kanban and benefit from its focus on efficiency and adaptability.


Implementing Scrumban or Kanban in Your Organization


a woman writing on postit notes.

Successfully implementing Scrumban or Kanban in your organization involves understanding the selected methodology, setting up the appropriate boards, and training your team members in the new approach.


Adhering to the guidance in this blog post and customizing the methodologies to your team’s distinct requirements can aid in the successful integration of either Scrumban or Kanban into your organization, thereby enhancing your project management processes.


Getting Started with Scrumban

To get started with Scrumban, create a scrum board, with backlogs and workflow stages, set work-in-progress limits, and hold daily stand-up meetings. By clearly defining the columns, tasks, and workflow on your scrum boards, your team can visualize their progress and better understand the complexities of their projects, such as processes and risks.


Training your team on Scrumban involves explaining the methodology, demonstrating how to use the board, and providing guidance on how to prioritize tasks. By ensuring your team is properly trained and understands the benefits of combining Scrum and Kanban elements, they can effectively adopt Scrumban and reap the benefits of this hybrid approach.


Getting Started with Kanban

To implement Kanban in your organization, start by visualizing the workflow on a board, setting work-in-progress limits, and managing the flow of tasks. This visualization allows your team to stay aligned on objectives while maintaining focus on their goals, and enables them to quickly identify bottlenecks and allocate resources more effectively.

Training your team on Kanban involves explaining the methodology, demonstrating how to use the board, and providing guidance on how to prioritize tasks and manage the flow of work. By ensuring your team is properly trained and understands the benefits of Kanban, they can effectively adopt this methodology and benefit from its focus on efficiency and adaptability.


Real-World Examples of Scrumban and Kanban

Real-world examples of Scrumban and Kanban can provide valuable insights into the benefits and challenges of each methodology in different industries. For instance, ClickUp and Asana are examples of project management tools that utilize the Scrumban approach, allowing teams to balance structure and flexibility in their workflow.

Trello and Jira, on the other hand, are popular examples of Kanban in use, helping teams visualize their work and manage their workflows more efficiently. By examining these real-world applications, you can gain a better understanding of how Scrumban and Kanban can be implemented in your own organization.


Summary

In conclusion, Scrumban and Kanban are both effective agile methodologies that offer unique benefits and challenges to teams and organizations. By understanding the key differences and similarities between these methodologies, you can make informed decisions about which approach best suits your team’s needs and project requirements. Whether you choose to implement Scrumban for its balance of structure and flexibility or Kanban for its focus on continuous improvement and adaptability, both methodologies can help your team optimize their workflow and achieve better project outcomes.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Scrum Kanban and Scrumban?

Scrum, Kanban and Scrumban are popular Agile project methodologies used globally to facilitate product/service delivery. Scrum was created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, while Kanban has its roots in Lean project management. Scrumban is the hybrid of the two frameworks, which started as a way to switch between them but has become its own standalone methodology.


What is the difference between Scrum and Kanban flow?

Kanban focuses on reducing the time a project takes from start to finish by using a kanban board, while Scrum organizes work around sprints and commits to completing increments of potentially shippable work. Additionally, Kanban is a visual methodology, whereas Scrum structures workflow and team culture.


What is the difference between Scrumban and Kanplan?

Kanplan allows teams to prioritize tasks without sprints, whereas Scrumban uses sprints as the primary method of task organization. Therefore, teams that prioritize agility and flexibility often move away from Scrum towards Kanplan.


How do team roles differ between Scrumban and Kanban?

In Scrumban, team roles are more flexible while Kanban encourages collaboration with fewer pre-defined roles.


When should I choose Scrumban over Kanban?

If your team needs a balance between structure and flexibility or if you're dealing with a large project that requires cross-team collaboration, then Scrumban is the way to go.

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