Kanban is an agile workflow management method used in project management to maximize project efficiency by visualizing the workflow and reducing work in progress. Scrum, on the other hand, is an agile product development process where the complete work is divided into short iterations and completed within a timeline called “sprint”.
Despite having many differences, the Kanban board and Scrum board are quite similar in some important aspects. Many organizations have made both the methodologies an important part of their project management tool. Yet many would prefer to use only the Scrum methodology because of its prescriptive nature. It is not easy to declare one of them as the best given their varied pros and cons.
Let us have an understanding of the differences between a Scrum board and a Kanban board
Kanban and Scrum board differs mainly on the following points:
- Roles and responsibilities:
- There are three parties to a scrum, a product owner, scrum master, and the scrum team. The product owner defines what goals need to be achieved. The scrum master defines the timeline and guides the team on Scrum technique. All the team members (which is generally cross-functional) have a predefined set of roles. No one remains in a state of ambiguity and the work is equally distributed.
- However, in Kanban, roles are not predefined. The team, which doesn’t require being cross-functional, is expected to collaborate on their own in terms of work allocation.
- Due dates
- In Scrum, the work is divided into sprint backlogs and are assigned a timeline of less than a month, which is termed as a sprint. All the subtasks are expected to be completed and reviewed in the given timeframe.
- Due dates in a Kanban board are decided by the business as per its needs. The workflow continues and the products are delivered on an “as-needed” basis.
- In Scrum, no changes are allowed once the sprint backlog is determined and the work is commenced. Any required changes are encouraged to be made in the subsequent sprint.
- Kanban board is flexible in terms of changes, which could be introduced at any time during the development of the project. Continuous improvements are allowed even in the project mid-stream.
- In a Scrum board, productivity is measured through velocity. Each sprint is laid out back-to-back to review the performances. The success of a sprint depends on the previous sprint because adjustments and disruptions identified in a sprint are corrected in the next sprint.
- In a Kanban board, productivity is measured on a project basis by ascertaining the time required to complete a project right from the beginning to the end.
- In a Scrum board, at the beginning of the sprint, all the stories are mentioned in the first column. The stories pass through different stages until they land on the final “completed” column. After successful completion and review of each sprint, the board is prepared for the subsequent sprint.
- In a Kanban board, too, the same way columns are labeled. However, there is a limit on the number of stories allowed in each column at a time. The same content on the board continues until the completion of the project.
Advantages of Scrum
- A scrum board promotes more transparency in the project development process as frequent feedback is obtained from the product owner throughout the sprint process.
- With predefined roles and responsibilities and sprint reviews, it increases team accountability.
- It is a cost-saving method.
- It is an independent tool and does not require to be merged with any other business process.
Disadvantages of Scrum
- It is less flexible in terms of changes. Changes are discouraged in a sprint and be carried out only in the next sprint.
- It requires an experienced and trained team to work with a Scrum board.
- It is mandatory to appoint a Scrum master to guide the team in scrum methodology. A less experienced scrum master can severely impact the development process.
Advantages of a Kanban board
- A Kanban board is way more flexible than a scrum board, which allows for process changes whenever needed.
- A Kanban board helps in reducing wastes from processes.
- As the process is quite easy to understand, it does not require a trained team to work with it.
- It helps organizations in reducing the time cycle of the product development process.
Disadvantages of a Kanban board
- One major disadvantage is the lack of timeframe. As workflows continue on an “as-needed” basis, there are chances of processes taking way too long if the team does not work sincerely on it.
- It cannot be used as an independent tool. It has to be merged with other processes to derive its benefits.
- Through Kanban allows flexibility in terms of project requirements, it is not suitable if your organization operates in a dynamic environment. The planning is done assuming stable situations.
Which is better?
The choice depends on various factors and circumstances as under:
- If you already have a product development system in place, which is deriving the best results and all you want is to improve its productivity, then a Kanban board is the ideal choice. This will help in visualizing the workflow and help in managing time more efficiently. Your primary development system will remain the same.
- However, if you want to adopt an efficient and well-defined product development framework to replace the existing system in your organization, then Scrum is the best choice. In this case, Kanban cannot be implemented, as it is not an independent tool.
- As far as types of projects are concerned, a Kanban board is best with projects with varying requirements as it allows for frequent changes. While projects with stable priorities, a Scrum board is preferable as not many changes are allowed.