Kanban vs Scrum: Brief Guide Through the Most Common Differences

There are numerous Agile frameworks created with the purpose of improving product development. Among them, the most popular and globally represented are Scrum and Kanban. The Scrum framework is well-known and most commonly used, but Kanban is becoming more and more popular. We will discuss why.

Both Scrum and Kanban strive to increase quality along with productivity and bring efficiency to the organization. However, there are many key differences between them, and we will discuss them further. So, let’s start!

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a method and Agile framework that enables teams and organizations to visualize their work and handle
bottlenecks and waste. It is great for teams that have lots of incoming requests that vary in priority and size.
Kanban helps visualize your work, limit work-in-progress, and improve efficiency. It aims to eliminate waste
activities, making continuous workflow.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework that emphasizes teamwork, accountability, and iterative progress toward a well-defined goal. It also underlines collaboration, functioning software, team self-management, and the flexibility to react fast and adapt to emerging business changes. The three pillars of Scrum are transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Kanban Roles

One of the biggest differences compared to Scrum. Kanban does not prescribe roles, but it recognizes two roles which exist: Service Delivery Manager and Service Request Manager. Instead of a single team in Scrum, tasks and responsibilities are shared among multiple teams. Having a specialized team is important.

Scrum Roles

Scrum has well-known and defined roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Scrum Development team. They are not optional; unlike Kanban, Scrum roles are a must. The Scrum team shares tasks and responsibilities within the team only. Cross-functional teams are important to have in Scrum.

The Workflow in Kanban

The main goal of Kanban is to achieve continuous flow. That’s why there are no time restrictions; it is not based on duration but instead based on efficiency. It is possible to have time restrictions, but they are optional.

The Workflow in Scrum

Scrum is a time-boxed framework. The iterations in Scrum are fixed in duration, known as Sprints, and these iterations can be 2 to 4 weeks long. The work has to be done within this defined period.

Kanban Planning

In Kanban, there are no mandatory requirements for estimation, and it is usually free of big planning. Kanban is open to making changes during the working process; new items can be added. It means there is less rigidity, and things can change frequently.

Scrum Planning

Commitment in Kanban

In Kanban, commitment is agreed based on the capacity of the teams. All members of the Kanban team commit to finishing their work before they start with a new one. Still, Kanban is very flexible with the commitment.

Commitment in Scrum

In Scrum, it is a requirement for teams to commit to a specific goal or outcome. For the entire backlog team commits to achieving a product goal. For a single sprint the team’s commitment is a sprint goal. Whereas, for a single backlog item a commitment is the definition of done. Reaching this commitment is the team’s focus and everything else is subject to it.

Kanban Ceremonies

Kanban recommends meetings, but they are not mandatory. There are several meetings present in Kanban, such as the Daily Meeting, Replenishment, Delivery Planning Meeting, Service Delivery Meeting, Operations Review, Risk Review, Strategy Review.

Scrum Ceremonies

Scrum meetings are obligatory for all team members. Dailies are typically held in the same location and at the same time each day, while others are before and after the Sprint ends. They are: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.

Kanban Board

Kanban is all about visualizing your work and maximizing efficiency or flow. Kanban teams use the Kanban Board as a work and workflow visualization tool that enables them to optimize the flow of work. For the Kanban Board, sticky notes on a whiteboard are most commonly used to communicate status, progress, and issues. The Kanban Board helps teams follow the workflow and register where their bottlenecks are in progress.

Sprint Backlog

The Sprint Backlog is a sorted list of new products or features, changes to existing features, or infrastructure changes, as well as other activities to achieve specific goals and outcomes. It derives from the Product Backlog, an ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product. The most common items on the Sprint Backlog are user stories. During the Sprint, it is not possible to add new items or make changes, except in the case of business needs, market conditions, and technology.

So, these are the most common differences between Kanban and Scrum, roughly said. There are many more things and questions that should be mentioned. For example, when and why you should use them, what are your benefits, or who gains the most using these Agile frameworks?

You may expect the sequel soon, and if you are willing to learn more about Kanban, then we suggest you find or enquire about an upcoming training because it will discover many more benefits for you and help you understand how to use Kanban properly as a proper business solution. Stay tuned!