Scrum vs. Kanban - What is the difference?

31 maart 2020 om 15:50 by ParTech Media - Post a comment

Project management has managed to set up high standards of evolution in recent years. That being said, there are a variety of highly professional project management tools that help in streamlining with such changes. But those dealing with the project management trends and its associated niches will definitely know that technology covers only half the discussion here.

While Kanban and Scrum show significant domination in the conversation, weighing the difference between these two trends is of utmost importance.

Though Kanban and Scrum seamlessly fuse with one another, it is always quite necessary to dig in the differences between these two pivotal concepts. While a widespread lot of Scrum teams make high-end use of Kanban as their professional tool for visual process and project management, some teams prefer to master an in-depth management through Scrum alone.

Both Scrum and Kanban are often misunderstood to be identical agile methodologies and there is a widespread difference between them in reality. A clear understanding of these differences helps in finding the right path that works best for a project-based environment.

What is Scrum?

Scrum in general is a strategic tool that is used to plan and strategize work into manageable bits that can be further completed by a distributed team within the assigned deadline or time period that might fall anywhere between 1-4 weeks.

In order to plan, organize, and optimize the entire process, Scrum is dependent on three pivotal aspects:

  1. Product Owner - who sets the initial plan, prioritizes, and communicates with the team/company.
  2. Scrum Master - who adheres to and oversees the process from start to finish during the stipulated deadline.
  3. Team Members - those responsible for carrying out the strategies and assignments.

The Scrum Board is yet another common tool that is used by the team to pave the way for visual representation of the entire workflow. Likewise, this concept is segregated into manageable bits called "stories", where each story is shifted with the board from the "to-do list"(also known as backlog) into work-in-progress (WIP), and ultimately, to completion.

What is Kanban?

Likewise, Kanban is a similar tool that is utilized to organize work and yield an efficient outcome within the assigned time period. Just like Scrum, Kanban helps in breaking workload into easily manageable pieces and also uses the Kanban Board to achieve a visual representation of the entire workflow, similar to the Scrum Board mastered by the Scrum team.

  • On the contrary, Scrum obstructs or limits the total time allowed to complete a specific amount of work.
  • Whereas, Kanban cuts off the amount of work allowed on any one of these: the number of ongoing tasks/limitation of tasks that are allotted to the to-do list.

The Scrum Process

In a nutshell, the Scrum process assists team members to measure what works and what doesn't. Communication is a core part of the entire process and it is ultimately carried out through meetings called 'Events'.

Scrum Events Include:

  • The Sprint-a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product increment is created. Sprints have consistent durations and a new sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous sprint.
  • Sprint Planning Meeting-In the sprint planning meeting, all the members together set the goals and plan the work to be performed in the Sprint. The sprint planning meeting is time-boxed to a maximum of 8 hours for a one-month sprint.
  • Daily Scrum-A 15-minute time-boxed meeting that takes place at the same venue and time, every day. In the daily scrum meeting, the team reviews work that was completed the previous day and plans what is going to be done in the next 24 hours. In this meeting, members also open up about any sort of obstacles that hinder the completion of the tasks that are in progress.
  • Sprint Review- The Sprint review is held at the end of the Sprint for the scrum team and the stakeholders to collaborate about what was done in the Sprint what is not yet done. The team also demonstrates the work that is done, what problems they ran into and how they solved them.
  • Sprint Retrospective-This meeting takes place at the end of a Sprint. In this session, the team takes their stand and reflects on the entire Sprint process. A team-building approach might be negotiated between the members and one of the most important goals of a Sprint Retrospective is to aim for unbroken development and unsurpassed improvement.

Kanban Process

There is gradual improvement in the Kanban process. Whether it is a usual software development, staffing, marketing, or sales, the Kanban method always follows a specific set of principles for improving the workflow within the team.

The 4 core princples of Kanban:

  1. Start with what you do now.
  2. Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change.
  3. Respect the current process, roles and responsibilities.
  4. Encourage acts of leadership at all levels.

The 6 practices of Kanban:

1. Visualize work

Kanban creates a visual representation of the entire workflow. This paves the way for seamless observation of what happens through each and every phase of the work chain.

2. Limit Work-in-Process

It effortlessly allows team members to decrease the time taken to navigate through the Kanban system.

3. Focus on workflow

Kanban helps in optimizing smooth workflow by simply putting a limit to work-in-process (WIP) while adhering to team-driven policies and work-related negotiations.

4. Steady and continuous improvement

With the Kanban system in use, there is a steady foundation and growing chances for continuous improvement. This is because it helps team members measure their strategies and effectiveness by setting a track on workflow, quality, lead times, etc.

5. Implement feedback loops

Feedback loops are crucial to deliver the right work in the shortest possible time. Kanban encourages and helps to implement feedback loops of various kinds.

6. Make process policies explicit

A process cannot be improved if you don’t understand it. Therefore the process needs to be defined explicitely so that everyone really understands what we are doing and what the goals are.

Scrum vs. Kanban - Differences You Need to Know

Team presence

  • Scrum: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Team Members Build a Scrum Team.
  • Kanban: There are no specific predefined rules set. Roles needn't always be collaborative.

Work boards

  • Scrum: Columns are usually labelled to denote the progress and status of the workflow from the start of the project to the finish line.
  • Kanban: Columns not only denote the workflow status but also ascertain the maximum number of stories that go in each column.


  • Scrum: Has a high impact and emphasis on schedule with a great deal of story points. This assists in obtaining accurate estimations of work progress as well as a strategic approach towards managing a chain of other projects.
  • Kanban: Specific time boxes or iterations are not essentially required. Since Kanban is already iterative in nature, continued work improvement seamlessly occurs in a progressive fashion along with the workflow.


  • Scrum: Since Scrum lays high stress on planning, estimation plays a pivotal role here.
  • Kanban: There is no compulsive need for estimates in Kanban.

Team role

  • Scrum: A sprint backlog is owned only by a single team in Scrum.
  • Kanban: Allows multiple teams to share a single Kanban board.


  • Scrum: Estimated and prioritized Stories are pulled into the sprint and can not be changed from that point on.
  • Kanban: Priorities of tasks can change often and can reorder the tasks on the board.


  • Scrum is definitely an agile method that seamlessly allows strong emphasis on top priorities and strategies to help the business deliver value in the shortest possible time.
  • On the other hand, Kanban is merely a visual system that aids in managing software development projects.
  • It fosters continuity in improvement and focuses on increasing the efficiency and productivity of the project.
  • Scrum continues to rely on backlogs while Kanban's strategies are built on dashboards.
  • The Scrum Master is the sole authority who acts as the problem solver for the entire team.
  • Kanban hands over equal responsibility and leadership ethics to every team member and encourages them to share their responsibilities.
  • Scrum focuses on time-boxed iterations.
  • Kanban strictly focuses on planning and allocating variable durations for individual iterations.