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Scrum VS Kanban: Agile Software Development Methodologies

Estimated Read Time: 7 mins



Author: Mohsin Ali

Published on: September 23, 2023

Posted at: September 23, 2023

Category: Web Development

Being a software developer, it's unavoidable to work in teams be it developing a website or mobile app. Effective team collaboration always makes things smooth and seamless for you and saves you from unwanted frustration. In that case, choosing the right agile methodology is crucial to effectively complete the project and measure its success.


This article talks about the two popularly known agile methodologies Scrum and Kanban. You’ll see how these methodologies have features in common and differences as well. In the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of what method to choose when you work on your next project. 


Let’s dive in!


Agile Software Development Methodologies: Scrum and Kanban


1. Scrum

Scrum is one of the methodologies in agile software development that works like a secret weapon for teams working together for improving efficiency and effectiveness. If you’re working on developing software along with your team, scrum will make the process smoother and more successful. It's all about breaking the work into smaller and more manageable chunks so you can tackle them one at a time. The purpose behind this methodology is to adapt and improve the process along the way making sure you’re building the right thing and delivering value to your customers. 


Roles and Responsibilities:


When following the scrum methodology you have to divide the roles and responsibilities in the following manner:


Product Owner: The product owner acts as the captain of the ship and represents customers and stakeholders. The product owner’s main job is to prioritize what tasks need to be done to make sure that the team is building the right features. 


Scrum Master: your scrum master is like the team’s coach. The scrum master’s job is to help the team understand and follow the principles defined in the scrum. You’ve to remove any obstacles coming in the way to ensure the smooth flow of the project. 


Development Team: finally your development team are the individuals who help you in successfully building the product in small increments.  The team works in a self-organized manner and plans the project thoroughly to deliver a high-quality product increment. 



Scrum Events and Artefacts:


Scrum has a few essential events and artefacts to keep things organized and on a smooth track:


Sprint: a  mini project within scrum where the team focuses on completing a set of tasks within a specific time i.e. 2-4 weeks.


Daily Scrum: a short daily meeting where team members are gathered to share their specified tasks and progress. A check-in to mitigate the challenges the team is facing and what they plan to do next. 


Sprint Review: a review meeting is held at the end of each sprint and the team shows what tasks they’ve achieved successfully. Stakeholders provide their feedback on the sprint and improvements are made if required. Sprint review is a chance to celebrate the accomplishments the team has made so far and move forward with the project.


Sprint Retrospective: this stage is to look back on what has been done and what’s left to be improved. A discussion where the team communicates about the problems they faced, what were the factors that improved their processes and how was their experience. The main goal is to improve the way they operate the process so they don’t come across the same issues in the next project.


Artefacts: The artefacts included in Scrum are of three types. The first one is the product backlog which is a prioritized list of features that represent the requirements for the product. . The second is the sprint backlog, a subset of the product backlog selected for the sprint along with a proper plan. Lastly, an increment, which represents the sum of all the completed and potentially shippable Product Backlog items at the end of each Sprint.


Overall, Scrum is an exciting way to work collaboratively, tackle complex projects, and deliver awesome results. It's like a roadmap that guides your team towards success while keeping everyone engaged and motivated along the way



2. Kanban


Whether you’re building software, managing a task or organizing any event, Kanban methodology lets you keep track of all the work from start to end. It's related to visualizing your tasks, dividing and limiting the tasks you have to do at once and optimizing the workflow. It's basically to achieve efficiency and increase productivity.






Principles and practices


To make Kanban effective, you’ve to follow a few principles and practices:


Visualize: as the name suggests, you’ve to visualize the workflow. Imagine you have a board having different columns that represent various stages of your work like “to do”, “in progress”, and “done”. You write your task on a sticky note and stick it in the respected column and move it forward to the next when the stage of this task changes. By doing so, it becomes easy to see at what stage you’re standing and how long it will take you to complete each task.  


Limit Work in Progress (WIP): this stage limits you to perform specific tasks simultaneously. This technique discourages working on all tasks at once and encourages one to focus on a few important tasks first. By setting a maximum number of tasks per column you prevent overload, and help maintain focus. And complete the tasks successfully before moving on to the next step. 


Manage Workflow: Kanban technique helps you in optimizing the workflow by paying attention to the movement of tasks on the board. It's the best way to identify bottlenecks in the workflow and visualize where the tasks are piling up. You can make necessary adjustments, distribute the work more evenly and maintain a smooth flow with Kanban. 


Continuous Improvement: while following this methodology you can encourage a culture of continuous improvement. Your team reflects on the projects’ progress regularly. Discuss the factors that are making the project successful and improving the workflow, and experiment with different changes to enhance the workflow even more.  This technique is all about finding various ways to achieve a task and work smarter and faster while maintaining the quality of the project. 


In a nutshell, Kanban is like a planning tool that helps you visualize and manage your work effectively so your ideas are not scattered in your mind but organized adequately on a board where everyone can visualize the success of the project.



Which Method to Choose While Software Development? Scrum or Kanban?


If you’re unable to figure out which method to choose for your next software development project, worry not. We’ll be guiding you further on this topic. 


Just like any other situation, when it comes to choosing a methodology for your project you’ve to consider various factors and the specific needs of your team and the project. To understand better, you can consider the following factors:

Nature of Your Project: 

If you're working on a project with a defined goal and clear requirements, scrum will be the most suitable choice. Scrum is followed by an iterative approach where you get regular feedback and the adaptability factor is high. Scrum is a flexible methodology and if your project needs to be changed, it can be done in the next sprint. 


On the contrary, if your project has a continuous workflow of tasks and the priorities change frequently, Kanban will be more appropriate. Since you can visualize the workflow in this approach, you’ll easily understand the current stage of a task and easily identify bottlenecks that are hindering the workflow.  


Kanban's emphasis on workflow management and continuous flow makes it effective in environments where tasks and priorities are constantly changing


Dynamics and Expertise of Your Team:


You’ve to carefully consider the skills and expertise of your team. The scrum technique works for teams who are self-organizing, cross-functional and know how to handle multiple roles at a time, with effective collaboration. If your team is experienced with agile methodologies and can perform the role of scrum master or product owner, scrum will be a good choice. 


Whereas, Kanban is suitable for those teams who prefer a more fluid approach. A fluid approach, in the context of project management or methodologies like Agile, refers to an adaptable and flexible way of working that can accommodate changes, uncertainties, and evolving requirements. 


Predictability and Planning:


If you want your approach to be predictable and planned while developing the software, then it's better to go with Scrum. Scrum uses a timeboxed setting where it's easy to organize tasks in small sprints and you are aware of when the sprint starts and ends.


However, Kanban is a continuous process, which does not have a strict approach towards the time constraints and predetermined planning periods. It's flexible in terms of completion of the project and offers more visibility and flow management of tasks. 


Remember, both Scrum and Kanban are agile methodologies and the features of these methodologies can possibly overlap. Therefore, you can combine the two approaches when needed and call it Scrum ban to come up with a hybrid model. The choice depends on your project’s requirements, team dynamics, and preferences to identify which agile methodology will be the most suitable for your custom software development projects. 






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