Is Kanban Or Scrum The Best Method For Your Business?

Posted by Team Waddle on 17-Nov-2016 14:00:08

Scrum or Kanban? What are these foreign words and how can you mould these techniques for use in your business?

Believe it or not, it's highly likely you're using at least one, if not more of the techniques used within Scrum or Kanban. Even teams that use Scrum also use Kanban to visualize processes and project manage.

When deciding between Kanban or Scrum, the individual distinction doesn’t have to be made because Kanban and Scrum can go hand-in-hand in almost all cases for a business that has decided work within the guidelines of an agile environment. If you are a business owner and are not involved in software development, then Kanban would be the ideal choice in almost all cases.

A quick look at Scrum

Scrum divides up a project into short “sprints,” ranging from a couple of days, weeks to no more than a month (rare), and each sprint has a concrete output or “increment” to achieve before the next sprint can begin. Each increment is complete in itself and can be used in its right. This means no time is wasted backtracking to fix issues after the whole project is complete because the team or customer sees and approves each increment as it grows toward the end goal. During each sprint, the team uses very short daily meetings, charts, and backlogs to keep them organized and on point.


A quick look at Kanban

Kanban is used primarily as a visual project management tool. Kanban’s primary mechanism for improving the flow of work is the Work-in-Process Limit. You set a policy for the team, saying that we’ll limit how much work gets started, but not finished, at any one time. When the board starts to fill up with to much work that remains unfinished, team members re-direct their attention and collaborate to help get some of the work finally finished or prioritize work and remove work from the board that is not the high priority, before starting any more new work.

You might be starting to grasp that you can use Kanban to manage the overall projects and utilize Scrum to get the individual task completed efficiently and on time before moving projects along in the cycle.

Kanban boards

The greatest management tool within Kanban is the Kanban board, The work of all kanban teams revolves around a Kanban board, a tool used to visualize work and optimize the flow of the work among the team. While physical boards are popular among some teams, virtual boards are also hugely popular.

On a Kanban board or wall lies the Kanban cards which serve as visual signals that separate work. Each card can move along as work is completed and are assigned to individual people within the team to bring transparency to completion of tasks and allow other team members to offer assistance to finish tasks or remove roadblocks preventing another team member from completing.


I am doing Kanban; I must be Agile! Hmm Probably not.

The initial concepts behind Kanban come from the world of Lean Manufacturing as a way of doing something called “Just-in-Time” production. It was developed by Toyota (Kanban is Japanese for “Visual Card”) in the 1950s. Agile was developed by software developers to deliver projects on time, with Kanban not unique to Agile software development as it primarily has longer cycles and would not suite software development teams that need to respond to immediate changes.

Kanban could be adapted to anything within your business that has a process or workflow involved. Kanban itself is a process improvement approach, not really a process of its own. It’s something you apply to an existing process, like Scrum, or whichever your current process happens to be.

Kanban vs. Scrum

Kanban is not Scrum, and there are several distinctions between Kanban and Scrum, though they are both work methods. Kanban is a visual management method that was developed by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in the “New New Product Development Game.” The 1986 product development strategy was a way toward “organizational knowledge creation,” according to Takeuchi and Nonaka.

Scrum and Kanban are both repeatable work systems that rely on process flows and aim to reduce waste, inefficiencies and dramatically increase communication across teams. However; there are a few main differences between the two:

Cadence Regular fixed length sprints (ie, 2 weeks) Continuous flow
Release methodology At the end of each sprint if approved by the product owner Continuous delivery or at the team's discretion
Roles Product owner, scrum master, development team No existing roles. Some teams enlist the help of an agile coach.
Key metrics Velocity Cycle time
Change philosophy Teams should strive to not make changes to the sprint forecast during the sprint. Doing so compromises learnings around estimation. Change can happen at any time

Small businesses are suited to Kanban

If you're a small business, by now you're probably leaning towards using the Kanban boards. You'd already be imagining using the boards, cards and swim lanes to manage a marketing project or event to assign tasks to team members and deliver it on time with complete visibility amongst management. Once you start having daily stand up meetings around your board or screens team members will naturally engage other to help out of tasks to move them along or complete their own to prevent others from being blocked.

We've included some recommended books below and listed our own software used to help us manage our projects.

Recommended reading

Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines, and boosting productivity

Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

Waddle uses: JIRA Software

workflow2x-png Example workflow

Topics: Waddle Tips

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