Agile 101: Scrum vs. Kanban – Is There a Winner?

September 9, 2020
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One of the questions usually raised in any software development project is: what is the method that works best to organize and prioritize tasks in an Agile work environment?

Is it Scrum or is it Kanban? Is one better than the other? And how are they different from each other?

And the reason for these questions is that the implementation of any of these Agile methodologies represents not only the work process itself, but also a set of tools to improve adaptability, risk management, and innovation.

For this reason, in order to fully understand why is there a debate between Scrum and Kanban when it comes to software development methodologies, we first have to compare them to be able to analyze their differences as well as their strengths:

What is Scrum?

In a nutshell, Scrum is a predefined and recurring set of actions and processes that are used to shorten the development time of a specific project, while providing the best possible quality.

By following the Scrum methodology, teams are committed to generating software results at the end of their established intervals that are also called “Sprints”.


If you want to learn more in-depth about the Scrum methodology, and how it works in an Agile environment, check our article Agile 101: An Intro to Agile Software Development.


How does Scrum work?


What is Kanban?

On the other hand, Kanban is an Agile methodology that consists of managing a project while continuously improving the process which is always carried out through visual workflows.

Basically this means that this methodology uses a Kanban board as a visual tool to display each project on a different card, and moves those cards through columns representing progressive stages of completion.


How does Kanban work?


So, is Kanban an alternative to Scrum, and vice versa?

At first glance, it might seem as this is true, however, these are just two different ways to get to the same place: organizational agility.

Scrum is the most complex, strict, and difficult out of the 2 methodologies. At its core are Scrum sprints that set clear goals and deadlines, give full control to the Project Manager, and work well for large, fast-moving projects. However, adding unexpected elements can turn out to be a monster, and Scrum requires an experienced team to conduct many meetings that may take a little time.


What is the Scrum verdict? Therefore, the Scrum framework is a good choice for experienced or business teams working on a product or on a project that lasts for more than a year.

Scrum is highly efficient if the goal is to acquire commitment from the team with the delivery of constant and continuous value, as well as executing development projects that handle short delivery times (between one week and one month), and in which iterative approaches can be made and incremental starting from a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Kanban, on the other side, is the simplest and easiest method to adopt. It enables the possibility to visualize work and work processes on a board that ensures all team members are on the same page and reveals bottlenecks in the workflow while staying flexible in production. However, Kanban is less effective in resource-sharing situations, uncompromising in managing multiple products or large projects, and it is difficult to track individual team contributions. Also, an outdated Kanban board can cause problems.


What is the Kanban verdict? Kanban is a good choice for support and maintenance teams, continuous product manufacturing, and product or service delivery teams with a stable workflow.

Kanban gives good results when detecting and eliminating bottlenecks in the execution of processes, as well as executing maintenance projects, particularly in SLAs (Service Level Agreements), where the response time in processes and Critical operations is vital.



So, what is the conclusion?

More than Scrum vs Kanban, the question we believe is the most important asking is what aspects of Scrum and Kanban can be used in each project to effectively develop products and services. For this, it is necessary to know the advantages of both approaches:


Based on these comparison points, it should be up to the development and product teams to choose which framework works best for them. The best synergies and highest levels of productivity have been achieved by combining both frameworks, something that is entirely possible thanks to the flexibility of the two approaches.


In conclusion, not everything has to be black or white. You must choose the best option for your project. At Teravision, we collaborate with our clients during the project kickoff meeting and the onboarding week to define what is the best approach for them.

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