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In the software development world, teams are always on the lookout for methodologies and frameworks that enable them to streamline the process of developing software. Scrum and Kanban are two Agile frameworks that empower teams to optimize the development process and release software quickly and effectively. 

Scrum – mainly used for projects – enables development teams to become more Agile and react and respond quickly to sudden changes.

Kanban – mainly used for operations – enables teams to make small, incremental changes efficiently for increased throughput and quality.  

If you are looking to leverage these frameworks but don’t know when to use them, read on to find out more! 

What are Scrum and Kanban? 

Scrum is an Agile framework that helps software development teams efficiently work together and deliver business value in the shortest time. It allows teams to rapidly and repeatedly inspect the product at hand and enable them to learn through experience, prioritize tasks, and drive continuous improvement. Since it emphasizes teamwork and iterative development of software, it empowers teams to deliver new software once every 2-4 weeks.

Kanban is an Agile scheduling system that helps software development teams to manage their work efficiently. It allows teams to visualize the entire software development process as well as current tasks passing through that process so that potential bottlenecks can be identified and rectified – in time. Since it provides full transparency, it allows workflows to proceed smoothly and at optimal speed.

The differences 

Here are the fundamental differences between Scrum and Kanban: 

Scrum

Kanban

Primary objective:

To work on projects in small sprints, integrate feedback, and release software every 2-4 weeks.

To limit work in progress and accelerate time-to-market. 

When to use it:

When requirements are rapidly changing, and the team size is large. 

When requirements are stable, but the development process needs to be improved, and the team size is small. 

The process:

Every workflow is represented on a Scrum Board and broken down into manageable chunks or stories. Each story moves from a backlog towards work-in-progress, and finally, completion.

Every workflow is represented on a Kanban board and broken down into manageable chunks. Each chunk needs to be completed in the shortest time possible, so work-in-progress can be limited. 

Ideal for:

Projects

Operations 

Team roles:

The product owner plans the sprints, prioritizes tasks and communicates with team members. The Scrum Master oversees the process during each sprint. Team members carry out each sprint.

There are no set roles or responsibilities in Kanban; everyone works together as a team. 

Scheduling: 

Scrum places great emphasis on schedule through a prioritized list of story points. Such an iterative approach enables precise estimation of workflow and effective management of multiple projects.

In Kanban, there is no set schedule. Although the framework is iterative, the focus is mainly on continuous improvement. 

Changes and iterations:

Most iterations are fixed – and need to be completed within 2-4 weeks; changes cannot be made to pre-existing iterations. 

Not based on iterations as the framework focuses on cycle times, changes can be continually added. 

Key metrics to track: 

  1. Defect density
  2. Sprint velocity 
  3. Time-to-market  
  1. Lead time 
  2. Cycle time
  3. Work in progress  

Collaboration: 

The entire team focuses on collaboration so that tasks can meet quality and schedule requirements. 

The entire team focuses on collaboration, so tasks on Kanban boards can be completed quickly. 


Where to use what – Some Examples 

Now that you’ve got an idea of the fundamental differences between Scrum and Kanban, you should be able to implement the frameworks in the right manner.

However, if you’re still confused about where you can use Scrum and where you can use Kanban, let’s take some examples: 

  1. Requirements Management: Given that most projects fail due to poor requirements management, teams witness increasing project costs as a result of massive rework. Kanban boards are a great way to streamline the requirements management process. As teams can put up and visualize all the requirements on a Kanban board, they can get the visibility they need and drive efforts in prioritizing tasks, aligning their work with the board, and limiting work in progress items.  
  2. Development iterations: Considering how quickly software requirements change, Scrum boards are ideal for making development iterations. Because teams learn from experience and integrate feedback back into the development process in an iterative manner, all changes can be responded to and implemented – quickly and efficiently. 
  3. Defect management: Irrespective of the software development methodology being used, defect management is a critical requirement for any team. For defect management, both Scrum and Kanban are equally effective. Since both frameworks record all tasks that need to be performed in the product backlog, they help in identifying defects and mapping them to the correct stage on the Scrum or Kanban board – so teams can rectify them before moving forward. 

Frameworks that drive efficiency

In the software development world, the evolution of Agile has become unstoppable. As teams look to adopt frameworks that drive productivity, Scrum and Kanban are the two most clear and compelling choices. While Scrum allows teams to break tasks into small manageable chunks, Kanban helps them visualize the entire process so that work can be completed faster. 

Given the many benefits of both, it makes sense to use them both to streamline the development process, improve development efficiency, and accelerate time to market. 

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