Scrum or kanban: which agile software development tool is best for your project?

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Project management is the key to an efficient and agile development cycle. But faced with the choice between kanban or scrum, which route do you take? Jack Wallen has some advice.

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If you’re looking to move your business toward more agile software development, you’ve probably at least considered various types of platforms and services to facilitate that shift. Two of the most popular tools deployed for such evolution are kanban and scrum. If you haven’t adopted either, you might be curious which one is better for your project.

As difficult as it may seem, the answer is quite simple.

But first, let’s talk about what these tools are.

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What is a kanban?

The purpose of a kanban board is to provide a visual representation of where each task is in the development cycle. You break down the lifecycle into columns (such as Backlog, In Progress, Testing, Deployment, Completed). As each task progresses through the lifecycle, you move its representative card through each level. With this methodology, you can very quickly see exactly where a task is if it’s overdue, and how far it needs to go before it’s completed.

Plus, you can assign tasks to teams, automatically notify them of changes, and more (depending on the kanban solution you choose). Kanban boards are one of the most effective tools for project management. However, their scope is quite limited, as they really only serve this purpose.

Kanban helps you:

  • Visualize your workflow.
  • Avoid being overwhelmed.
  • Concentrate on the flow of a task.
  • Focus on continuous improvement.

What is the melee?

Scrum focuses on empowering teamwork on very complex projects. By replacing a programmed algorithmic approach with a heuristic approach, teams can better manage unpredictability and complex problem solving.

At the heart of this methodology are the Scrum values, which are courage, focus, commitment, respect and openness. These values ​​are defined as follows:

  • Team members have the courage to do the right thing and work on tough problems.
  • Team members focus on working within the sprint and team goals.
  • Team members are personally committed to achieving team goals.
  • Team members respect each other.
  • Team members are committed to being open about all work and associated challenges.

A very important key to Scrum is the sprint, which is a cohesive, fixed-duration event in which a team works to accomplish a set of tasks. In other words, sprints are when the work gets done. Each sprint can cover only one specific task of a project and is defined by a defined and specific goal. However, it is important that during sprints the following guidelines are followed:

  • No changes are made that would jeopardize the sprint goal.
  • The quality of the project does not diminish.
  • The product backlog is refined as needed.
  • The scope of the project may be specified and renegotiated.

How to choose between kanban and scrum

At this point, you’ve probably figured out how this is going to end. I tend to look at this decision as such:

If you have a team that only needs minor management, a kanban board is probably all you need. With this kanban board, everyone will be aware of the progress of the project and can easily collaborate. If your project isn’t complicated, kanban is probably the perfect solution, as it won’t get in the way of a streamlined workflow.

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If, on the other hand, you have a team that needs more management on a considerably more complex project, Scrum is probably what you need.

If that doesn’t help you decide, here are some important differences:

  • Kanban does not use predefined roles, while Scrum is divided into Product Owner, Development Team, and Scrum Master.
  • Kanban uses a continuous workflow, while Scrum uses sprints of a predetermined duration.
  • Kanban focuses on continuous delivery, whereas with Scrum new features are only delivered at the end of a sprint.
  • The primary metric for Kanban focuses is work in progress, while the metric for Scrum is speed and value created.
  • Kanban allows changes to be made at any time, while Scrum changes are determined and implemented between sprints.

Ultimately, kanban is a great solution for mature teams that are good at self-managing, while Scrum is a great tool for larger, more complex projects with teams that could benefit from a little self-management. Ultimately, however, the route you take will be determined by the complexity of the project and your team’s ability to scale their daily workflows.

I’ll end with this: you can’t go wrong with this decision. While you might find one more suited to your development cycle, any introduction of a good project management tool should be seen as a positive step forward.

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