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Scrum vs Kanban

There is a lot of confusion between Agile methodologies and frameworks regarding Scrum and Kanban. What is Agile? What is Scrum? What is Kanban? What are the differences between Scrum and Kanban? When it comes to Scrum vs Kanban, there are very serious supporters that are valid for both sides, who think that the methodology applied in their team is the best and tries to impose it. In this article, we will briefly touch on the differences, pros and cons of both compared to each other. Let’s start then.

Methodology vs Framework

Before starting the topic, I want to talk about the differences between ‘methodology’ and ‘framework.’ I think you may have come across someone talking about Scrum or Kanban in the form of Scrum Methodology or Scrum Framework. Maybe we read it without much attention, but I think it is necessary to know which one is correct.

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) explains the word methodology as follows;

“A system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.”

I found the explanation of the word framework on whatis.com as follows;

“In general, a framework is a real or conceptual structure intended to serve as a support or guide for the building of something that expands the structure into something useful.”

Looking at these explanations, we can think as follows; as long as the operation of the frameworks does not change, a product can be supported with different methods and tools, while the methodologies specify which techniques, tools and rules to do the task. While Scrum Guide’20 tells us how to do the task, it is completely up to us which tools to use. For example, a statement such as “Burndown chart must be used to measure Sprint performance” is nowhere to be found in the Scrum Guide. It left this completely to the discretion of the Development Team. The team will choose whichever method can measure the performance of the relevant sprint. That’s why we call Scrum the framework. When we look at it from the methodology side, I think eXtreme Programming can be named as methodology. Although it doesn’t say that the tools that must be used for each step are the following, its rules that the CRC Card should be used for system design can be given as an example for this.

Scrum

Scrum is an Agile framework with a well-defined set of rules. First of all, there are various processes that the team must learn and apply. These processes are not very fast and easily implemented processes for a team that has not worked with Agile principles before. Among the first examples of a team switching to Scrum is learning to work in Sprints, establishing a self-organized and cross-functional developer team, organizing and participating in various events called Scrum ceremonies. After the first steps are taken, the team will be expected to continuously improve itself, increase the quality of the code and take more responsibility. We can think of the last sentence as both a necessity and a natural outcome after the implementation of Scrum.

Kanban

Kanban is not a structured framework as much as Scrum, as it does not have predetermined rules for the process. It can be used with all software development methodologies including Waterfall.

Kanban’s purpose is to visualize our current processes. As a result of this visualization and the Work In Progress (WIP) restriction rule that I will explain in the next paragraph, it aims to ensure that processes flow faster than normal. Kanban’s logic is to visualize all steps of a task on a board from the very beginning to the end of the process. There are columns on the board that indicate the situation that each task can take instantly. These columns continue from left to right from the leftmost column where the new tasks are located, to the rightmost column where the completed tasks are located. These columns will vary according to the team needs and processes. Below you can see the columns of the board I use on JIRA for a team. The rest is up to your imagination.

a kanban board we are using

The only rule that Kanban stipulates is WIP limitation. We must set a maximum task limit for the columns on our board. For example, if the rule of 5 tasks is set in the In Progress column, it is determined that the developer team should not deal with 6 or more tasks at the same time. Since the 6th task cannot enter In Progress, the WIP limit set allows the team to use pair programming or to reserve a place for a possible urgent task.

Scrum vs Kanban

Now that we know a little bit about both, which one is better for my team?

We have an established structure and things are rolling, but if we want to improve and speed up a little without scaring anyone, I think Kanban will be the right choice for us. If there is a setup where things don’t work and change is inevitable, if we are open to bigger changes, if we are dealing with a complex project where the requirements are not yet clear, Scrum will be the right choice.

Please ask any relevant questions below, I’d be pleased! Please do not hesitate to ask about a subject that you’re curious about.

A Turkish version of the article is available in the link below:

Emre Büyükkürkçü

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