If you are wondering about the differences between Kanban and Scrum, read this detailed guide.

Various project management methodologies are out there that teams can use as the framework for their project planning. These are highly beneficial to optimize the team workflow and ensure heightened productivity. While you must choose the correct methodology for your project, these methodologies can sometimes be confusing. 

To help you pick the most suitable one, we will discuss two popular project methodologies: Kanban and Scrum. Besides talking about their differences, we will enlighten you about their features and similarities.

What Is Kanban?

Kanban is a project management method that helps you visualize the project status. Using it, you can readily visualize which tasks have been completed, which are currently in progress, and which tasks are still to be started.

The primary aim of this method is to find out the potential roadblocks and resolve them ASAP while continuing to work on the project at an optimum speed. Besides ensuring time quality, Kanban ensures all team members can see the project and task status at any time. 

Thus, they can have a clear idea about the risks and complexity of the project and manage their time accordingly. However, the Kanban board involves minimal communication. Hence, the tasks are not optimized completely.

what is Kanban

Top Kanban Features

  • Maximum flexibility towards changes.
  • Rapid product delivery by cycle time reduction.
  • It can be initiated at any time.
  • Reduction of time waste during the process.

The Process

To implement the Kanban method, you need to use the Kanban board. The principles of this board include:

#1.Visualization: Visualizing the task flow from the beginning to the end.

#2. Reducing Time Limit: Cutting down the time to a minimum.

#3. Focus: Emphasizing tasks that are currently in progress.

#4. Constant Improvement: Round-the-clock improvement in the project. 

What Is Scrum?

Scrum is a popular agile method ideal for teams who need to deliver the product in the quickest possible time. This involves repeated testing and review of the product. It focuses on the continuous progress of the product by prioritizing teamwork.

With the help of Scrum, product development teams can become more agile and decisive while becoming responsive to surprising and sudden changes. Being a highly-transparent process, it enables teams and organizations to evaluate projects better as it involves more practicality and fewer predictions.

Teammates following this methodology communicate frequently, so there is regular knowledge exchange. Since this method is flexible toward changes, teams use it when the project conditions are unfamiliar.

what is Scrum

Top Scrum Features

  • Development of value-rich products at the end of the sprints. 
  • Quick and continuous product review.
  • Flexibility for adjustments and prioritizing rapid changes.
  • Aimed for self-organizing and self-managing teams.
  • The product owner has the authority to set the sprint goal.

The Process

The Scrum methodology largely depends on communication. The Scrum teams go through the process that involves:

#1. Daily Meeting: This meeting takes place every day at a fixed time. While members update their progress and obstacles, the team reviews the plans.

#2. Sprint Planning: In this meeting, teams decide how to work for a particular sprint and which milestones to be achieved. The sprint time varies from project to project.

#3. Sprint Retrospection: Once a sprint ends, there is a retrospection when teams reflect on project progress to understand how to avoid common blockages in the upcoming sprints.

Kanban vs. Scrum: Differences

These methodologies vary from each other in several aspects. These are some of the significant differences between Kanban and Scrum.

Project Planning

The Kanban method depends on probabilistic planning, primarily a projection based on previous workflow data. Factors like project type and size, not the team, play a crucial role in planning using this method.

Project planning in Scrum takes place in dedicated meetings where the team and the stakeholders break down the project into tasks and estimate time.

Meetings

Meetings are an optional component of the Kanban methodology. Teams that want to implement it often choose between team-level and service-level meetings, such as daily meetings, operations review meetings, strategy planning meetings, risk assessment meetings, etc.

Scrum team meetings

For teams following Scrum, meetings are mandatory. For each Sprint cycle, they usually have four types of meetings:

  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint planning
  • Sprint review
  • Sprint retrospective

Task Prioritization and Delegation

Kanban methodology encourages managers to manage the workflow and prioritize tasks actively. They often delegate tasks based on previous roles, performances, and team structures. 

Since Scrum is ideal for self-managed teams working in collaboration, all members contribute to handling a Sprint. Usually, they autonomously select which items they will work on. However, the product owner may prioritize tasks according to importance.

Designated Roles 

Kanban doesn’t prescribe roles to the involved team members. Usually, it expects the members to maintain their current responsibilities. Teams following this principle do not have to deal with employees feeling insecure about their job roles.

On the other hand, Scrum has some pre-defined specific roles and responsibilities, such as:

#1. Scrum master: The facilitator and coach keeps the team moving in the right direction. 

#2. Product owner: One who creates the product roadmap and coordinates with the team and the customers.

#3. Team member: Every other member of the self-managed Scrum team.

Modifications

The Kanban method welcomes changes at any given point of the project and instantly works on them. Based on the change, the project timeline may change.

In Scrum, a sprint ends with product delivery. Any issues, changes, and bugs are added to the product backlog after reviewing and often included in the next sprint on priority. 

Productivity Metrics

Regarding productivity assessment, Kanban uses cycle time, lead time, and work in progress. Usually, average time is taken into account to get an estimation.

Productivity Metrics KPI

Scrum relies on metrics such as velocity and burndown rates to measure productivity. Together, these enable teams to determine overall productivity and how it can contribute to on-time project completion.

Due Dates and Timelines

Continuous task delivery is the essence of the Kanban method. As team members work on independent tasks, they can deliver a task immediately to the customer when it is complete. 

In Scrum, one product is delivered after each sprint. In case two interdependent tasks are included in the same sprint, teams have to wait until both are completed. 

Software

Teams following the Kanban methodology want an application where they can see every step of the project and detect bottlenecks to fix them. While most project management applications of the present time let you create a Kanban board, here are some Kanban tools:

  • Kanbanize
  • KanbanFlow
  • Monday.com
  • Kanban Tool
  • MeisterTask
  • Kanbanchi

Similarly, Scrum teams rely on programs that assist them in backlog management and time assessments. Some popular Scrum tools are:

  • Zoho Sprints
  • nTask
  • Orangescrum
  • VivifyScrum
  • Jira
  • ScrumDo
  • Sprintly
KanbanScrum
PlanningBased on project type and sizeInvolves breakdown into smaller tasks
MeetingsOptionalMandatory
Prioritization and DelegationDone by managersSelf-chosen 
Roles and ResponsibilitiesDoes not designate roles to the membersCategorized into Scrum master, project owner, and team member
Modification and ChangesDone immediatelyDone in the new sprint
Productivity MetricsCycle Time, Lead Time, and Work in ProgressVelocity and Burndown Rates
SoftwareKanbanize, KanbanFlow, Kanban Tool, MeisterTaskOrangescrum, VivifyScrum, ScrumDo, Jira
Kanban vs. Scrum: Major Differences

What are the Similarities Between Kanban and Scrum?

There is no need to think that these approaches only have differences between Kanban and Scrum. Let’s have a look at some similarities between them:

  • Both the methods are part of Agile methodologies.
  • Both aim to deliver the product at the earliest possible time.
  • Both ways ensure transparency in your project.
  • Both methods offer visual display from self-organizing teams.
  • Kanban and Scrum help you make better decisions by encouraging planning.
  • The human-centric approach of both these allows teams to be flexible.
  • Kanban and Scrum use the pull method and timeboxing in different project phases.
  • The ultimate objective of both methods is to increase team productivity through continuous improvement.

Kanban Vs. Scrum: When to Use Which Methodology?

Kanban VS Scrum: When to Use Which One

Knowing which of these methods is the best for you means understanding which one aligns better with the philosophy and approach of your team and organization. 

Choose Kanban if you —

  • Want to avoid having bottlenecks during projects with too many “in progress”
  • Are you looking for a method for visualizing all your steps in a project from beginning to end?
  • Want your team to quickly adapt to the changes and course-correct whenever needed
  • Are you interested in creating feedback loops for streamlining projects and long-term efficiency?
  • Are not willing to have strictly defined team roles or cross-collaboration

Choose Scrum if You —

  • Want to breakdown projects into small parts
  • Are serious about customer feedback and want to improve performance as per the feedback
  • Wish to make changes once a sprint is complete instead of adapting in real-time
  • Are not interested in date & time-based deadlines and want to use story points
  • Want to define definite roles and cross-functional capabilities for team members

Remember that teams can also combine different aspects of each method and use it on their projects. One example could be the use of Kanban boards by a Scrum team. However, you need to cross-match the philosophy and test these to find out which one suits your specific needs.

Conclusion

To implement Agile, you have two distinct options before you: Kanban and Scrum. Though both these methodologies are helpful for different teams, not one of them is superior to the other.

Both come with highly beneficial features and share some common attributes. 

Hence, teams must try these to find the perfect match for their team and project. Thanks to the availability of various apps and tools for Kanban and Scrum, trying out these methods is a breeze. 

You may also want to learn about the critical path method to recognize essential tasks for successful project completion.