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

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

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If you’re looking to scale your business towards more agile software development, you’ve probably at least considered various types of platforms and services to facilitate this change. Kanban and Scrum are two of the most popular tools deployed for such an evolution. If you haven’t adopted either, you might be curious about which one is best for your project.

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

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

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What is kanban?

The purpose of a kanban board is to provide a visual representation of where each task is located in the development lifecycle. You divide the lifecycle into columns (such as Backlog, In Progress, Test, Deployment, Completed). As each task evolves through the lifecycle, you shift its representative map across areas. With this methodology, you can very quickly see exactly where a task is if it is overdue and how far it needs to go before it is finished.

Plus, you can assign tasks to teams, automatically notify them of changes, and more (depending on which 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 one purpose.

Kanban helps you:

  • Visualize your workflow.
  • Avoid being overwhelmed.
  • Focus 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 cope with unpredictability and solving complex problems.

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

  • Team members have the courage to do the right thing and work on tough issues.
  • Team members focus on spring work and team goals.
  • Team members are personally committed to achieving team goals.
  • Team members respect each other.
  • Team members agree to be open to all work and associated challenges.

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

  • No changes are made that would endanger the goal of the sprint.
  • The quality of the project does not decrease.
  • The product backlog is refined as needed.
  • The scope of the project can be clarified and renegotiated.

How to choose between kanban and scrum

By this point, you’ve probably figured out how it’s going to end. I tend to take 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 know how the project is progressing and can easily collaborate. If your project is not complicated, kanban is probably the ideal solution, as it won’t hamper 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 make up your mind, here are some important differences:

  • Kanban does not use predefined roles, while Scrum is divided between the Product Owner, the development team and the Scrum Master.
  • Kanban uses a continuous workflow, while Scrum uses sprints of predetermined length.
  • Kanban focuses on continuous delivery, whereas with Scrum new features are only delivered at the end of a sprint.
  • The main metric of kanban focus is work in progress, while the metric of 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 who are good at self-management, while Scrum is a great tool for larger, more complex projects with teams that could benefit from a little management. Ultimately, however, the route you take will be determined by the complexity of the project and your team’s ability to evolve their day-to-day workflows.

I’ll end with this: you can’t go wrong with this decision. While you may find one that is better 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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