Kanban vs Scrum: Why and How We Switched from Scrum to Kanban?

Kanban and Scrum methodology are terms which their meaning are similar and one could easily get confused when referring to one. In the same vein, how to use them and when to use them could be tricky. This came to mind after relating with some number of customers regarding which framework to use amongst them and most of the time, clients think they are both the same. Despite both having a project management tool, they are not the same as there is a difference between Kanban and Scrum and they are grouped into scheduling, iteration, and cadence.

At the end of this article, you will have some good understanding on which one to use at a certain time because they are both good frameworks. In Sloboda Studio, we use Scrum to build a prototype by splitting work in predictable iterations, to have a comfortable pace of work and also build up an easy-to-use delivery pipeline.

How we got to alternatives to Scrum

We once had a scenario where we opted to use Scrum for a certain project called Skiwo. Skiwo was founded in January 2016 was later changed to Tikk Talk. It is an open digital marketplace that offers services over video conference and phone conference on a number of platforms like web, skype for business and mobile apps. It is a powerful platform that facilitates communication and business process.

We developed Skiwo from scratch and used Agile practices (standups, retrospective, demo, grouping tasks into sprints, sprint planning) in order to ensure timely and efficient implementation of all projects features. Sloboda Studio started the layout as a trial, and the goal was to build a Minimum Viable Product that will showcase the most important features to the first users and investors.

Nevertheless, we were faced with some challenges, we were supposed to make a user-friendly platform with a simple and low time-consuming process and we achieved it by applying an efficient, reliable and highly customised solution.

However, we had issues along the line and these issues which made us switch from Scrum to Kanban at the end.

These issues were:

  • fixed deadlines, unfixed scope
  • no documentation/premature specification which resulted in estimation failure.
  • no backlog
  • lot of hot-fixes
  • rare deploys
  • no fixed duration of sprints

Often times, Kanban is not about pushing features into the workflow pipeline but also pulling them through.

For some people that are not familiar with the agile methodology, this article might be confusing. Here is an overview of Kanban vs Scrum.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a framework used by software engineers practicing agile methodology. Kanban is used for software development and its methodology has existed for over 50 years. Kanban is a method used while creating a product having in mind a continual delivery and to not overburdening the software engineers. One could easily ask if Kanban does matter to him/her.

Kanban possesses quite a number of benefits by some of which I like the most is its flexibility in the process. Here are some few points that answer the question: “Why does Kanban matter?”:

  • Kanban matters when you try to use Scrum for some time and the process improvement leveled off. Taking your process to the next level requires Kanban
  • Kanban matters when you find yourself in the situation where your needs and priorities shift on daily basis
  • Kanban matters when you are at the point whereby you can’t fix a timeframe for a project or have a fixed commitment

Pros of Kanban

Kanban methodology is often easy to understand. It’s said to improve the workflow as well as reduce the time cycles. Here are some reasons why we use Kanban:

  • It enhances the flow of delivery.
  • Kanban methodology is easy to assimilate and understand.
  • It shortens the time cycles of each process
  • It reduces the wastes from the process.
  • Kanban methodology increases the process flexibility.

Cons of Kanban

The disadvantages of Kanban arise when the Kanban board is misused or mishandled. Here are some common disadvantages of Kanban:

  • The old version of Kanban can lead to complication in the development process.
  • Often time the Kanban team makes the board over-complicated.
  • There is no timeframe are associated with each phase.

What is Scrum

Scrum is a framework used by software engineers when breaking down the project into sprints. Scrum is used in completing complex or innovative projects. Scrum is a product built in fixed length or sprints that give development teams a framework for in developing software. At the end of each sprint (milestones), it brings a feeling of tangible progress with each cycle which energizes everyone.

Scrum’ benefits are huge but the most appeal to me it’s the ability to make tasks easy and enhance projects flow.

There are four factors that structure each sprint:

  • Sprint planning: this is where the development team set and decided what to do in the coming sprint.
  • Daily stand-up: this is a daily few minutes between the software team to sync and it is also called daily scrum.
  • Sprint demo: this is a meeting where the development team shows what they have done or shipped in that sprint.
  • Sprint retrospective: this is a review on what did not go well and the actions that need to be taken so it won’t repeat itself and make the next sprint better.

Pros of Scrum

The framework of scrum has specific roles with lots of advantages. Here are some of the advantages:

  • The methodology of scrum is more visible and transparent.
  • It increases the team accountability.
  • Scrum accommodates changes easily.
  • Scrum methodology saves cost.

Cons of Scrum

Scrum is known to be used by high level and experienced persons. Notwithstanding, it has some disadvantages highlighted below:

  • Scrum techniques require an experienced and committed team.
  • Team with less experience can ruin the whole process of development.
  • When the task poorly defined, it can ruin the accuracy of the project.

Going back to the question about which framework should be used. In making such decisions, one needs to look at the project at hand as well as the current stage of the project. In the situation whereby client comes with a project that the MVP has been created or when the software engineers have created the MVP, then it is advised to use Kanban because as it often portrays to be the perfect framework to use when adding new features.

Sloboda Studio uses Agile Methodologies widely, we have available and professional developers in-house that have good experience working with either Kanban or Scrum. We have the capability to chose any of them and can easily switch between them depending on the workflow of the project.

In a situation when the software engineers are faced with a full detailed description of a project and designs/wireframe, it is advised to use Scrum. Scrum helps in reducing the bulk projects into sprints like I explained earlier, that way it will be easier to monitor the workflow of the project and it can be run smoothly.

However, these two methodologies can be combined and this method is called Scrumban. Scrumban combines Scrum and Kanban, it contains the best rules and practices of both methods. It uses the nature of Scrum to be Agile and on the other side, it constantly improves team’s processes which are Kanban aim.

This scenario of Skiwo displays how we planned to use Scrum but later had to move to something close to Kanban practices. A similar case might occur but before making a decision on which methodology to use, you should make a critical analysis and at the end, if done correctly you can have a good workflow that will give you the desired result at the end of your project development.

Posted by Contributor