Scrum vs Kanban: What's the Difference

Scrum and Kanban are two terms that show up frequently in the agile world.

Though both Scrum and Kanban are known as "agile methodologies", there are some major differences between them that you should be aware of if you want to make sure that you're choosing the best possible strategy for your project management environment.

In a nutshell, Scrum is a tool specifically used to organize work processes into more manageable chunks called "sprints". Each task in a Scrum strategy is between 2 and four weeks long, and it includes a specific group of people particularly skilled to accomplish the goals within the task. On the other hand, Kanban is also a tool used to organize work for efficiency purposes, but it takes a slightly different approach.

Similar to Scrum, Kanban breaks work down into more manageable chunks, so that people can visualize their workflow and make progress more quickly. Instead of limiting the amount of time taken on each task, Kanban focuses on limiting the number of tasks that can be in any "stage" of the Kanban board at one time. For instance, you can only have so many "in progress" tasks at once.

What Makes Kanban and Scrum so Different

While there are a lot of similarities between Kanban and Scrum in the fact that they attempt to make projects more manageable and agile, they still have a number of differences to be aware of. Scrum processes place a lot of emphasis on scheduling people within a team with a prioritized list of things that need to be accomplished within a specific amount of time. In a Kanban team, there aren't any required time boxes to think about. Although the Kanban method still breaks tasks down into smaller chunks, limitations are placed on the various stages of workflow a team might approach.

Another thing worth noting is that the teams in Scrum and Kanban workflows are generally different. In scrum teams, there are around three roles that need to be assigned for the work to be properly processed. These roles include the Scum Master, the team members, and the product owner. Every role comes with its own distinct set of responsibilities. On the other hand, with Kanban, there are no specific roles handed out. Although someone may serve as a project manager or supervisor in a Kanban project, the roles can evolve naturally with the scope of the organization or situation.

Even the scrum and Kanban boards are very different. On a scrum board, columns are labelled to reflect specific periods in the workflow, starting with a sprint backlog, and ending with whatever success looks like to the team. On a Kanban board, the columns are labelled to show workflow state, but also the maximum number of tasks allowed in each column at any given time. 

Which Methodology is Right for You?

It's difficult to know for certain whether Scrum or Kanban is right for you without getting to know each methodology in depth. This article into the basic definitions of Scrum and Kanban, and the differences in each could help. It provides a deeper insight into the agile strategies you can use to make the most out of your project management teams.

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