Is Scrum dead? Scrum vs. Kanban

Scrum can stifle teams’ workflow as they try to adapt to the framework’s boundaries, especially larger teams. This gave many organizations a reason to start looking for alternatives.

grok

October 05, 2021 · 4 min readAll

The Scrum framework became the de facto choice of technology organizations after the shift to Agile methodology. It helped software teams speed up the release of products to market, and it provided teams with more flexibility when it came to dealing with unexpected revisions or changes.

But Scrum can stifle teams’ workflow as they try to adapt to the framework’s boundaries, especially larger teams. This gave many organizations a reason to start looking for alternatives. The Kanban framework, which has been receiving more attention, is marked by a laxer commitment to the process of a task. It’s emerging as the top choice for many IT shops due to its approach to project development.

In order to better understand why Kanban seems likely to replace Scrum as the best framework for teams committed to the Agile model of development, let’s take a look at how they work.

What is Scrum?

The Scrum framework is a type of agile methodology designed to help software teams deal with users' needs in a way that’s fast and flexible. It designates responsibilities for different aspects of a software project from start to finish, and when properly followed, it also provides communicational transparency between teams.

With Scrum, projects get broken down into sprints — short blocks of time in which development teams handle different aspects of a project. Each sprint has a designated starting point, which is a list of objectives relevant to the overarching project plan. Lastly, there is a period for reviewing whether team members accomplished everything outlined in the sprint.

This can work for teams that are fully committed to the Scrum process. But smaller, leaner shops may run into issues if they don’t have the personnel available to fill all of the required roles. Not only that, Scrum can disrupt creativity since it’s confined to making changes only after finishing a sprint.

What is Kanban?

Originally used in the manufacturing industry, Kanban relies on visual displays containing user story cards. The movement of any card triggers an action. Kanban boards track progression by dividing it into different queues that represent workflow. From there, the team will move cards across the board as various tasks are completed.

The rules for working with Kanban are as follows:

  1. Come up with a way of measuring and managing your workflow so that you can spot opportunities for improvement.

  2. Decide on how you want to visualize different story points on your Kanban board.

  3. Place limits around the work in progress to help the team focus on specific tasks and avoid distractions.

Kanban scales to fit a project’s workflow needs. Teams get the freedom to decide how their workflow looks, allowing it to evolve for production as best it can.

Scrum vs. Kanban — Reasons to choose Kanban 

Keep in mind, many teams end up taking some liberties with their choice of Agile methodology. And that’s fine. Teams committed to Agile need the freedom to try out new ideas. Below are some reasons why Kanban may be a better fit as opposed to Scrum.

1. Shorter learning curve

People tend to have a set way of how they want to do things, especially if they’ve worked in a specific position for many years. Scrum takes a lot of effort to get off the ground — but with Kanban, the learning curve isn’t nearly as steep.

This makes it easier to introduce the benefits of Agile methodology to those who would normally be opposed. They can be gently introduced before getting into the complexities of Kanban. It isn’t necessary to change anyone’s role or commit to a rigid schedule of meetings. Instead, teams may come together as needed, using their preferred choice of meeting management software.

2. Ideal for smaller teams

Not every company has the resources to field a vast IT team. Small companies are more likely to have a smaller number of personnel who are adept at working with many different technologies. Kanban allows small teams to remain efficient while scaling so as to handle additional responsibilities as needed.

3. Supports unlimited activities and adaptability

With Scrum, team members are committed to a specific period to accomplish certain tasks and nothing else. If that sprint involves a lot of activities, things can quickly become complex and unwieldy in the effort to capture unexpected issues and move them to a different sprint. Because Kanban doesn’t confine work to sprints, organizations can utilize the lead time to accomplish an unlimited number of tasks, all the while having the flexibility to make changes mid-stream.

Use Grok for your Agile meeting needs

Grok’s virtual workspace helps Kanban teams go over different aspects of a project and fully collaborate on tasks that need attention. Learn more about adapting Grok’s custom playbooks for Kanban meeting needs by signing up for a free demo.

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