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Advices
2020-08-13

Kanban vs Scrum, which is the right methodology?

Laura Villa Méndez
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The Kanban and Scrum methodologies are part of a series of agile methodologies that allow adopting a form of work with the conditions of a specific project. This method was created in the software development industry, looking for ways to improve quality and speed upon delivery. Through the so-called Agile Manifesto signed in 2001 by critics and experts in the topic, its purpose is to value more the individual and their interactions, than the processes and tools, also value more the collaboration with the client when doing the contractual negotiations.

These models assume continuous planning improvement, where the result is tested and improved. A faster and constant job, with determined deadlines, focusing all the attention on one task. The advantages of using these methodologies are the improvement of the quality of the deliveries, there is more engagement from the work team, reducing the production cycles and increasing the speed since the productivity increases as well. This is accomplished by assigning the tasks better and making it a dynamic way, according to the priorities. 

Kanban

Kanban is a Japanese word that means visual cards. The objective of this method is to manage how tasks are assigned and completed. Since it is a visual method, it allows knowing the status of the project and assigning new tasks in a very effective way. To apply this method, it is necessary to have a task board that allows us to have control over the workflow.  

This board is accessible to every team member and each column defines the status of each task, from the beginning till the end. The columns are divided into, to do tasks, tasks in progress, to be reviewed tasks, and completed tasks. In this board is possible to prioritize tasks according to their importance and incidents that might come up. The visualization and interpretation of the workflow, allows the communication to be faster and more effective between all the team members.

Scrum

Scrum is a method used for project management, where the persons can aboard complex processes and finish them in a determined time frame. Consist of various important elements like user stories, tasks, points, and sprints. The tasks and the stories of the users estimate with points and with a base for that estimation, they divide in sprints with a term and one clear objective. The sprints are prefixed intervals or cycles in a time frame between a week and a month. The direction of the sprint is to determine a Product Owner that either represents the business or the clients and a Scrum Master who manages the work process, the Scrum team, and the Stakeholders. 

It also counts with a Backlog or To-do list, that has all the tasks, characteristics, and user stories necessary to deliver the product or service. The project is executed with short temporal cycles and set durations. Every sprint has to provide a full result, a suitable final product. 

Which one to choose?

Could be complicated to know which of these methodologies of project management will work better than the other according to the selected objective. The reason why it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each method and identify what they contribute and which one is the right one to work with.

The agile methodologies are useful when you are working in a project that foresees changes, in many cases the client from the beginning does not define all the requirements or the requirements have changed. However, it is important to have into count the context of the developing project, the objectives that are planned, and the expected results, since this could help us determine the method that will work better. 

On another hand, Kanban has fewer rules, therefore, is easier to implement but this depends on the size and experience of the team. When the priorities of the business change constantly or daily, Kanban can provide freedom when doing changes, while Scrum does not recommend it since you have to wait until each sprint gets completed to continue to the next tasks.

The planning in Kanban is much complicated since it is flexible but Scrum is simpler because from the beginning there are planned objectives and time frames, predicting clear results.

If the project has to do with software development, Scrum would not be useful when the projects are already done (inherit codebase) since it is difficult to estimate the fixes that have to be done in that code (in other words, the technical debt). Kanban, on the contrary, can provide variability in this situation.

Taking a decision

From the different planning and characteristics of these methods, the right thing is to make a decision, not thinking which is better than the other but which can adapt more to the expected result, the essence of the work project, and the team situation. Before making the decision it is necessary to verify if the chosen method would deliver the expected results, evaluate if it works and if it can be readjusted. The right method between Kanban and Scrum would be the one that accomplishes the objectives of the project while the team has no incidents with their tasks and the client gets what was expected. 

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