Scrum & Kanban - the new dynamic duo or core competitors?
Unlikely partnerships are quite common in our part of the world - the tech world that is. Whenever a new name surfaces, a detailed autopsy of the features and performance is performed by the tech gurus and the newswire is bombarded with all kinds of reviews and comparisons. The good thing is, negative reviews are actually the best thing that can happen to any software, framework, platform of methodology introduced in the tech world. Not only does it open up doors to further improvements, it also suggests how it can be used along with an existing competitor in order to overcome the cons and bring out the pros in both of them. This is exactly the story of Scrum and Kanban.
Both Scrum and Kanban are agile software development methodologies. We have previously discussed and compared some of the commonly used strategies in the software world. Scrum and Kanban are agile software development project management frameworks. Not so long ago, Scrum was considered the flag bearer of agile methodologies. Today, programmers are more inclined towards Kanban, and the number of pro Kanban teams is increasing rapidly.
However, realistically speaking, developers never follow a particular strategy staunchly. They always tweak and change the methodologies as per project requirement. This is, in fact one of the underlying facts behind the popularity of Scrum and Kanban. Both frameworks are highly flexible and are open to smaller tweaks necessary for a certain project. That is why the strategy used today is more like a customized blend of both Scrum and Kanban. In order to understand how that is achieved, one must understand the differences and similarities between both approaches.
The basic principal of Scrum is to optimize management by splitting the team structure, the tasks and the time involved with the project. The team works in collaboration with the customers in order to set priorities and optimize a release plan. The result is, smaller teams working on small and less time consuming modules that are regularly integrated throughout the process of development.
In Kanban too, the work is split into pieces but the workflow is properly visualized with the help of cards and columns, etc. Limiting the work in progress (WIP) is one major element of Kanban. Limiting WIP dictates the number of tasks that may be in progress at any given time. A cycle time, that defines the average time required for one task, is also calculated to estimate the overall time required.
So, who wins?
So, the question remains? Which one is better? In one of the most detailed books on this topic, an author has described it as comparison between a knife and a fork. Both are completely different tools with different uses. However, when working together, both prove to be highly efficient, serving both purposes while cutting down the time and efforts required. This combined approach is often cited as Scrumban. Many software developing teams are now using Scrumban to utilize the best of both worlds. How that is done depends on how you prefer it to be done. Experiment with Scrum and Kanban, use what you like, swap what you don't and most importantly learn from your experiences, good or bad.