Kanban vs. Scrum

If you are wondering if you should move from a traditional Waterfall development methodology to something new, but can’t pick between Kanban and Scrum, here is some information that might help.

Kanban

Kanban is a simple methodology that focuses on the tasks your team is currently performing. The tasks are displayed to all participants so you and your team can track the progress and easily see what tasks are currently active. A good practice is to organize your development process using a Kanban board to show the status of each task, from “to-do”, “in progress”, “testing”, “ready for release”, and finally “released”. This simple methodology gives the team more flexible planning options, a clear focus on specific tasks,  transparency on what is coming next, and a faster output by helping them focus on just a few tasks at any one time.

The team should concentrate only on the tasks which are currently emphasized by being marked as “in progress” . Once a task is done, the team moves on to the next item at the top of the backlog, marked as “to-do”. The product owner (traditionally a manager) is free to change, re-prioritize, and even re-organize the tasks in the backlog as any changes outside the current “in progress” list won’t seriously affect the project.

Team members are given the responsibility to focus on the active “in progress” tasks and are expected to work only on those tasks. The methodology works well for unexperienced personnel and even teams that have just started working together. It is flexible enough to allow teams to reassign tasks between team members or reshuffle tasks based on what each person feels like working on today.

It seems to work best when:

  • Focused on continuous delivery
  • Helps improve productivity
  • Personnel need help adapting to change
  • Shorter time between task assignment and expected results
  • New or inexperienced personnel need to be productive

Scrum

If you need a lightweight development framework to manage complex development efforts, you are probably looking for Scrum. This method is iterative and flexible strategy involves the whole team, working as a unit to significantly increase productivity. Scrum is a simple set of roles, responsibilities, and meetings. that helps helps the entire company cope with changes, provide better project estimates, and increase the quality of the solutions delivered. The work done by the development teams is performed in a series of fixed-length iterations called “sprints”.

A sprint is a period of time during which a specific work should be done and ready for preview. The duration of each sprint is fixed and agreed in advance, usually between one and four weeks. Each sprint starts with a planning meeting, and during the sprint the team must attend a short daily scrum meeting, usually at the same place and time every day.

Scrum has just three specific roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master and the Development Team. Since your scrum team is cross-functional, your development team will include include, developers, designers, testers, technical writers, and anyone else that will be involved in the sprint.

The Product Owner represents the process owner and will set the priority of the assigned tasks, sprint duration, and determine the tasks assigned to each sprint.

The Scrum Master keeps the development team working on the proper tasks and helps identify items that are slowing the team down or blocking expected results. If the Scrum Master sees something that needs attention, the Scrum Master and Product Owner meet to decide how they should resolve the problem to get the tasks done correctly and finish the sprint as planned. The development team is mostly self-organized and responsible for the completion of their assigned tasks.

It seems to work best when:

  • Experienced development team needs little or no supervision
  • Project is long and complex
  • Focused on continuous delivery
  • Business requirements are constantly changing
  • Continuous feedback to corporate management is required

 

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