An In-Depth Analysis of Kanban, Scrum, and Agile
Are you keen on finishing your projects efficiently and on time? Are you dealing with difficulties in managing a complex project? Are you having a hard time in a dynamic, rapidly changing setting? Has adopting an agile methodology been suggested to you as a means to conquer these hurdles?
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People often have differing viewpoints when it comes to agile methodologies. Some argue in favor of Kanban, others for Scrum, thus creating more confusion.
The purpose of this article is to alleviate this confusion.
We will delve into Kanban and Scrum in this article, explaining what Kanban as a framework entails, what Scrum represents, and how they diverge from one another.
What You Will Learn:
What is Kanban?
- Predominantly, Kanban signifies “Visual Signal” in Japanese. The Kanban method concentrates on visualizing current tasks.
- The Kanban method is constructed around a “Kanban Board,” which is a critical tool in presenting the workflow and optimizing the exchange of tasks across different teams.
- Organizations can opt for either a physical or a virtual Kanban board. Virtual boards present benefits in terms of being readily available and accessible across varying locations.
- Kanban boards are typically divided into three segments: To Do, In Progress, and Done.
- Based on the project, team size, and workflow, Kanban boards can be customized to include modified sections such as To Do, In Progress, Code Review, In Testing, Deliverable, etc.
- Each work item on the Kanban board is represented via a Kanban Card, which assists the team in visually tracking the work.
- The Kanban Card provides details about the work item, its duties, estimated time of completion, and current status.
- This facilitates the team in forecasting challenges, swiftly resolving blockers, enhancing traceability, and minimizing dependencies.
- In the Kanban method, the team’s focus is solely on the work item being currently undertaken. Once a work item is shifted to the done state, they select the next item from the backlog/to-do list.
- The highest priority work items are placed at the top of the to-do list by the product owner. Adjustments in the priorities are possible if required.
- Kanban does not conform to fixed-length iterations. It operates on cycle times, which denotes the time necessary to move a work item from the To Do to the Done state.
- Kanban also highlights the significance of multifaceted skill sets. A resource with diversified skill sets can make valuable contributions in varied dimensions of the work item, which in turn reduces dependencies and the cycle time. For instance, a developer can switch roles to testing whenever needed, rather than concentrating merely on development.
What is Scrum?
- Similarly to Kanban, Scrum is another method for implementing Agile. Scrum sets itself apart with its defined iteration durations and role-centric tracking/approach.
- Scrum follows predefined iteration lengths called sprints, which ordinarily range from 2 weeks to 1 month.
- Each sprint kicks off with a Sprint Planning meeting in which the backlog/work items for that sprint are finalized. The estimation for the sprint is also rationalized during this phase.
- Selection of product backlog items for the specific sprint takes place at this stage.
- The goals and completion targets are communicated to all stakeholders.
- Backlog items can be divided if necessary.
- There is scope for modifying the priorities at this stage, and decisions are taken accordingly.
- Every sprint encompasses Daily Stand-Up meetings/Daily Scrum meetings.
- All members of the team take part in these meetings.
- The meetings should not exceed 15 minutes.
- The meetings aim at reporting the progress since the last meeting and planning for the next one.
- Issues such as blockers, bottlenecks, and dependencies are addressed during these meetings.
- Every sprint adjourns with a Retrospective meeting.
- Completed work items are presented, and demonstrations are given.
- In this meeting, the points of success are analyzed, and areas for improvement to be carried out in the next sprint are identified.
- Upon completion of a sprint, the same steps are reiterated for the remaining backlog items.
- Scrum operates on the basis of three roles: the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development Team.
- The Product Owner possesses comprehensive knowledge about the product and is responsible for formulating the list of backlogs. They comprehend the business requirements and ensure that the product deliverables address those needs.
- The Scrum Master oversees the flow of delivery, sprint planning, reviews, daily meetings, and other associated activities.
- The Development Team undertakes tasks such as analysis, design, development, testing, and documentation to deliver a market-ready product at the close of each sprint.
Having discerned Kanban and Scrum individually, let’s proceed to the comparison between the two.
Kanban Vs Scrum
Given the above explanations, both Kanban and Scrum share common ideologies. However, there is a marked difference in their execution and processes.
|Cycle-based sprints are fixed in duration, typically extending from 2 weeks to 1 month.
|Instead of fixed durations, cycle time is adopted.
|Teams project and plan each sprint according to the backlog sheet.
|Progress is monitored through the workflow, work items, and Kanban cards.
|Scrum operates based on three roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development team.
|Kanban does not hinge on prescribed roles.
|Once a sprint has commenced, changes are not permitted.
|Kanban allows leeway and permits changes at any point in time.
|Scrum emphasizes on completing work items in groups within each sprint.
|Kanban accentuates on single-threaded flow of work items.
Certain companies/teams choose Scrum, while others lean towards Kanban. In some instances, both methodologies are amalgamated, leading to a hybrid approach known as Scrumban. Scrumban unifies the best aspects of Kanban and Scrum.
Scrumban might incorporate the fixed duration sprints and roles from Scrum, while also pulling in work-in-progress limits and cycle time management from Kanban. The choice between Kanban and Scrum, or a fusion of both, rests on the team, company, and project requisites.
Now, let’s elucidate the difference between Scrum and Agile.
What is the difference between Scrum and Agile?
Equating Scrum with Agile or Agile with Scrum is akin to comparing “Red” and “Color.” Red is a classification of color, and its usage depends on the preference and comfort level of users. This principle is applicable to Scrum and Agile as well.
Scrum signifies a subtype of the agile methodology and is fundamentally an agile process framework. In terms of software development, Scrum and Kanban are specific variants or types of agile methodologies.
While it is logical to make evaluations between Scrum and Kanban or Kanban and Scrum, since both are agile methodologies, comparing Scrum with Agile would be akin to comparing “Red” and “Color.”
Scrum is merely an example of the numerous iterative and incremental agile software development methods. A detailed description of the Scrum process can be found here.
There are significant differences between Kanban and Scrum agile methodologies. We sincerely hope that we have clarified these differences in unambiguous terms.
About the author: Subhasis brings with him over 8 years of corporate experience gained while working for Fortune 500 IT companies in the realm of Software Quality Assurance, Software Development, and Testing. At present, he spearheads the QA team of a top-tier IT firm and relishes sharing his experiences on Software Testing Tricks and Software Testing Help.
If there are any queries regarding Kanban and Scrum methodologies, feel free to raise them in the comments section.