Agile methodologies: Kanban Vs Scrum – Advantages and Disadvantages

 

In today’s competitive and dynamic business environment, Agile methodologies have steadily risen to become a trusted and preferred method of development for software teams in the software industry. Using agile methods, organizations can respond to market changes faster, deliver higher quality products, and gain a significant competitive edge.

This led IT teams to start using agile practices and methodologies to accelerate development and respond to change on time. In everyday business many Scrum teams also use Kanban as a visual process and project management tool. While some teams prefer to use only Scrum because of well-defined process, many Scrum teams have adopted select principles of Kanban that are useful in adding an extra layer of visibility to their projects.

When choosing between Kanban or Scrum, the individual distinction doesn’t always have to be made because Kanban and Scrum can go hand-in-hand.

In our practice and everyday work, we can say that we have good experience in both agile methodologies (Kanban and Scrum), so let see the differences and benefits using both methodologies.

 

why Agile methodology?

 

What is Scrum?

 

Scrum is a well-defined process framework to structure your work and one of the most popular Agile methodologies. Scrum is most often used to manage complex software and product development. It is an adaptive, iterative, incremental, flexible and effective methodology designed to focus on delivering the highest business values in the shortest time throughout a project.

Scrum framework

Figure 1 – Scrum framework

 

When your team used Scrum methodology, then they have to work in:

  • Short iterations
  • Cross-functional team
  • With Product Owner
  • Under the counseling of Scrum Master
  • Regular meetings
  • Iteration planning
  • Sprint reviews

 Scrum Board

Figure 2 – Scrum Board

 

What is Kanban?

 

Kanban is a technique for managing a software development process in a highly efficient way. Kanban methodology is less structured methodology than Scrum. There is no process framework in this methodology. It only has an introduced model who improves the process through incremental improvements. This methodology can apply on any other methodology which you are already running.
In Kanban, we organize our work on Kanban board. In Kanban process is running as:

  • To Do
  • In progress
  • Done

Kanban management criteria are WIP (Work in progress). By managing WIP and monitoring WIP we can optimize the flow of work items.

 

Kanban board

Figure 3 – Kanban board

 

Similarities in Scrum and Kanban

 

Both methodologies have several similarities:

  • Both are Agile
  • Both limit WIP
  • Both use “pull scheduling”
  • Both are focus on delivering the releasable software often and early
  • Both use transparency to drive process improvement
  • Both need breaking the work into pieces
  • Both are based on self-organizing and cross-functional teams
  • Both release plan is continuously optimized and based on the empirical data (lead time/velocity)

 

Similarities in Scrum and Kanban

 

Scrum Benefits

 

The benefits of Scrum are real, especially for companies looking to accelerate time to market and move quickly in the software industry.

  • Increase the quality of the deliverables
  • Delivers products in short iterations
  • Scrum Prescribes 3 roles PO (Product owner), SM (Scrum master) and Scrum Team
  • Scrum team commits to a specific amount of work in an iteration
  • It adds value to the business
  • It allows the client to change the priorities and demands very quickly
  • In scrum you cannot add new items to ongoing iteration
  • Scrum team is Cross-functional
  • Promotes a better working environment for management
  • Promotes transparency and improved client relations
  • Enhances the credibility with the client due to the higher product quality
  • Creates motivated and inspired team members
  • Scrum uses Velocity as default metric for the planning and the process improvement

 

Kanban Benefits

 

  • In Kanban Timeboxed iteration is optional
  • Kanban is event-driven instead of timeboxed
  • Kanban has separate cadences for planning, process improvement and release
  • Commitment is optional in Kanban
  • Default metric for planning and process improvement use lead time in Kanban
  • Kanban teams allowed specialist, while the Cross-functional team is optional
  • Kanban does not prescribe any particular item size or Diagram
  • WIP limited Kanban directly (as per workflow state)
  • Estimation is optional in Kanban
  • Kanban allows you to add new items whenever the capacity is available
  • The Kanban board can be shared by individuals or multiple teams
  • Kanban does not prescribe any specific roles
  • The Kanban board is persistent
  • Prioritization is optional in Kanban

 

Advantages of Scrum

 

Scrum framework is highly perspective. It has specific roles and ceremonies. Scrum has a lot of advantages, some are listed here.

  • Scrum has more transparency and visibility than any other methodology
  • It increases the team accountability
  • Scrum is easy with changes. It accommodates changes
  • Scrum is a cost saving development methodology

 

Disadvantages of Scrum

 

Everything has two faces. When scrum has some benefits then it also has some disadvantages. Scrum is a methodology for usually high level and experienced persons. Scrum disadvantages are listed below.

  • Scrum need to be experienced and high-level persons, lack of experienced persons scrum process has some risk of scope creep
  • Scrum team requires experience and committed team
  • Less experienced scrum master can ruin the whole process of development
  • If the task is defined poorly then the project can be lead to inaccuracies

 

Advantages of Kanban

 

Kanban is easy to learn and understand the methodology. It improves the workflow and minimizes the time cycle. Some major advantages are listed here:

  • Kanban methodology increases the process flexibility
  • It’s focused on continuous delivery
  • It reduces the wastes from the process
  • Kanban is easy to understand the methodology
  • It improves the delivery flow
  • It reduces the time cycle of the process
  • Increased productivity and efficiency

Disadvantages of Kanban

 

Most of the disadvantages of Kanban is due to misuse or mishandling of Kanban board. Some common disadvantages are given:

  • Outdated Kanban board can lead to issues in the development process.
  • Sometime Kanban team make the board overcomplicate.
  • Lack of timing is another disadvantage because there is no timeframes are associated with each phase.

 

Conclusion

 

Looking at both agile software development methodologies it should be more clear what to introduce and when. If your organization is really stuck and needs a fundamental shift towards a more efficient and productive process, Scrum seems to be more appropriate. If you already have working processes, which you want to improve over time without shaking up the whole system, Kanban should be your tool of choice.

Both methodologies have their pros and cons. If your company is not using Agile software development methodology, then scrum is a good change for your team. Switching your organization to scrum is a beneficial process. It will remove your old habits and changed them into effective ones.

 

Tome Hristovski

Agile Practice Lead | Project Manager