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Kanban vs. Scrum: Which One and Why?

Jul 23, 2019 1:48:00 PM

Are you looking for ways to make your work more flexible and efficient, but feeling late to the Agile transformation party? Well, fear not! It's OK to be fashionably late to this Agile shindig!

Out of the many Agile Development frameworks out there, Scrum and Kanban are arguably the best known - similarities include their focus on continual improvement, and minimizing waste; breaking down large pieces of work into manageable, bitesize chunks for efficient delivery. However, it's important to understand the differences when looking to choose which style of working is right for you and your team.

What is Kanban?

Kanban, a workflow visualization tool, was first developed in the 1940s by Taiichi Ohno, for Toyota. Faced with a lack of productivity compared to their American rivals, the aim was to find a way to optimize productivity alongside their cost-intensive inventory of raw materials. A continuously improving process, Kanban uses boards with team-determined limitations to limit WIP (work-in-progress), identify and eliminate bottlenecks quickly and improve efficiencies among the team. Formal training is not required for teams to get started in Kanban, and, given that Kanban boards are intended to be used by everyone on the project, there is less need for cross-functional team members - it's easy to get started with Kanban quickly!

What is Scrum?

Although the history of Scrum is not without its controversies, it is widely understood that Scrum was developed in the 90s by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, to present at the OOPSLA conference in Austin, Texas. Sutherland and Schwaber borrowed the term "Scrum" from Takeuchi/Nonaka's paper ‘The New New Product Development Game’ - comparing a team sport like rugby with success in the 'game' of product development. Scrum is far more structured than Kanban - with commitments to short iterations of work, team members have designated roles and responsibilities (product owner, scrum master, team members), with clear priorities identified by the product owner. High visibility engages and increases team accountability, while daily meetings enable blockers to be identified and dealt with quickly; sprints (and potentially shippable increments) are generally being delivered every 2 weeks. It is this lithe process which allows Scrum teams to quickly adapt to change, maintaining and building upon team efficiencies in future sprints.

Which method is right for me?

The long and short answer is that there's no right answer for everyone. The best thing you can do for your team is to learn more about each framework and give them both a shot. It isn't always easy to break old habits; the road to a true Agile transformation can be long and daunting - we'd love to help you get on your way and show you how Jira can enable you to optimize your Agile processes; email us at contact@praecipio.com for more information. In the meantime, learn how Praecipio Consulting helps our clients conquer the Agile transformation using Atlassian tools, so they can drive business results, and innovate.

Written by Suze Treacy

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