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Which is Better: Kanban or Scrum

Which Is Better Kanban Or Scrum 1, Project Management Blog
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Kanban and Scrum are two of the most popular agile project management methodologies today. Both of them offer flexibility and have almost universal applicability leading to very high adoption rates.

The hallmark of agile project management is the fact that you can “test” an idea, a process before going ahead full steam.

Iterative and incremental is what describes agile methodology the best.

A typical agile cycle would look like below


Try -> Review -> Improvise -> Repeat!

Being able to go back to the drawing board as many times as you need allows to

  • Implement it easily
  • tailor it to your business
  • understand your team’s strengths & weaknesses
  • bring incremental improvements
  • build a robust process flow over time

Before we progress further let us understand what exactly are Kanban and Scrum.

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What is Kanban?

Kanban is a highly visual way of reviewing your work process and associated flows. It was deployed first for the production processes to identify and eliminate wasteful activities.

If you have ever taken a Lean Six Sigma training, do you remember the board activity with columns such as “value add”, “non-value add”, “necessary-non-value add” etc.?

Kanban Highlights:

  • isn’t very time sensitive
  • works on the “pull” mechanism
  • doesn’t have very prescriptive roles & responsibilities
  • allows for changes midway of a project
  • measurement criteria is “cycle time”
  • each step or status column is associated with an incremental delivery (remember – manufacturing steps)

So, based on the above highlights it is understood that Kanban works well with

  • established processes and systems
  • other agile frameworks [Scrum, Extreme Programming(XP)]
  • predefined workflows

What is Scrum?

Scrum is the agile framework that has proven widely successful with software development and engineering.

Scrum’s focus is highly time-boxed and has very robust guidelines in setting up the

Roles and responsibilities – Product Owner, Scrum Team & the Scrum Master

Scrum Artifacts – Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog & Product Increment

Scrum Events – Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-ups, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective

All in all Scrum is a very structured agile methodology. It is more of empirical in nature and each event is backed by facts.

This makes Scrum quiet reliable among its followers.

Scrum Highlights:

  • majorly time-boxed
  • highly prescriptive in terms of the Scrum team, events & artifacts
  • iterative & incremental approach
  • changes during in-flight Sprints is highly discouraged
  • customer & collaborative centric
  • Success is measured in terms of sprint velocity


By now we have a good understanding of what Kanban and Scrum agile methodologies offer. And it can be easy to get them mixed up and use interchangeably or think both to be the same.

And nothing can be farther from the truth here!

The major similarity is in the approach that both offer mid-way course corrections, are iterative and work on pull.

But then the way they actually operate are quite distinct.

Scrum – changes allowed during the course of the project. BUT not during a sprint.

Kanban – changes allowed during the course of a project. BUT not during a cycle i.e. one workflow piece is complete.

Scrum – Very time boxed, structured & well defined roles and responsibilities.

Kanban – time is usually as set by the organization, define custom lanes & not dependent on specific project roles or responsibilities.

Scrum – is people centric

Kanban- is process centric

Scrum – runs on a self-organizing team

Kanban – runs on the process evolution

As you can see both are proven tools to make your teams agile and benefit from an iterative approach.

However, one must be careful in choosing the right tool based on the project at hand. You can opt for an hybrid approach usually referred as “Scrumban” and I is majorly using Kanban in a scrum project.

Majorly, where you have well-established processes, the desired outcomes are clear and the activities are highly repetitive Kanban would be an ideal choice.

On the other hand, when time is of essence, product evolution is not well-defined you must take the Scrum route.

Note: both Scrum and Kanban enable productivity, efficiency and clarity of the workflow involved. So either ways you will end up with “incremental results” that augur well for your organization.

So, why don’t you try the both of them and see what works best for you.

And, even better you get to do it for free with our 45 day trial. No commitment except the one where you turn your teams agile!

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