Kanban Vs Scrum – Which Should You Use?

Kanban vs. Scrum

Let’s start with a joke: “Scrum is like your mother-in-law; it points out all of your flaws.”

It is indeed true that Agile is a software development approach comprised of multiple methodologies.

Scrum, developed by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber in the early 2000s, is a methodology that has proven to be popular through many agile frameworks, including those based on Kanban principles.

With Scrum and Kanban, both agile development methods’ names are becoming more recognizable as two of the most popular methodologies for developing products. 

Which one is better?

In recent years, Scrum and Kanban have grown in popularity among product managers, project managers, and team leads. 

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Many agile enthusiasts have even adopted these approaches to work more efficiently. 

Still, others continue to use their established best practices within the context of Agile frameworksBut how are they different?

This post will answer the questions above, describe the differences between the two methods, and show how they can help you get production-ready results faster with shorter development cycles.

What is Agile Product Management?

Agile product management is a term that gets thrown about so much that people need to think to explain it. 

Before we examine how product teams might use the Scrum and Kanban frameworks in agile, let’s look at what agile product management is all about. 

The term “agile product management” precisely means what it says. In an agile setting, the goal is to establish a product strategy and develop product roadmaps. 

It promotes a flexible approach to product development and deployment so businesses can respond fast to client feedback and create products they enjoy.

Agile is a framework for software development teams. The strategy emphasizes teamwork, small steps forward, and lifelong learning.

Agile product management is, at its core, a reaction to the increasing usage of agile software development approaches like Scrum or Kanban. 

Evolutionary development, early delivery, and ongoing improvement are all emphasized in these strategies. 

If you’re new to agile, our agile development guide about the history and principles of agile can be helpful.

Listed are a few of the essential advantages of agile product management:


What is Scrum?

Agile development is more of a mindset than a set of rules or actions. Several agile frameworks have evolved to assist corporations in implementing their preferred agile strategy. 

A few examples include:

Disciplined Agile (DA), the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), and Lean Software Development (LSD).

Scrum is a collaborative framework for teams

Scrum motivates teams to do the following:

  • Learn via experiences
  • Self-organize while working on a problem
  • Reflect on their victories and losses to continuously improve, similar to a rugby team.

It’s a simple project management system designed to assist businesses in developing, delivering, and maintaining complicated products. 

Scrum’s primary goal is to meet the customer’s needs by creating an environment of open communication, shared responsibility, and continuous improvement

The development process begins with a rough understanding of what needs to be produced, followed by creating a list of characteristics ordered by priority (product backlog) that the product owner desires.

Furthermore, product teams use the Scrum agile methodology to break down long-term projects into short-term work periods called sprints

Each sprint has a set time limit of two weeks or one month.

History of Scrum

Scrum was first published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “The New Product Development Game” by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in 1986. 

The above article explains how firms like Honda, Canon, and Fuji-Xerox use a scalable and team-based approach to product development to create new products worldwide.

Interestingly, Scrum was first developed in 1993 at the Easel Corporation by Jeff Sutherland, John Scumniotales, and Jeff McKenna.

Composition of the Scrum Team

A scrum team is a combination of collaborators (usually five to nine people) who work together to complete projects and deliver products. 

A scrum master, one product owner, and a few developers make up the essential scrum team. There is no hierarchy or status inside a scrum team.

The scrum team and each team member have specific tasks: They must deconstruct the requirements, establish missions, assess costs, and distribute them. 

To put it another way, they need to develop the Sprint Backlog. They must conduct a brief Daily Sprint Meeting.

The following are some of the essential members of a scrum team:

Scrum Master 

According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master is responsible for establishing Scrum as outlined in the Scrum Guide. They accomplish this by assisting everyone in the Scrum Team and the organization in understanding Scrum philosophy and practice.

The Scrum Master takes hold of the Scrum Team’s productivity. They accomplish this by allowing the Scrum Team to improve its procedures while remaining inside the Scrum framework.

A scrum master’s responsibilities include the following:

  • Self-management and cross-functionality training for team members.
  • Maintaining positive interactions with both stakeholders and team members
  • Keeping the squad away from any potential sources of distraction.
  • Assuring that all Scrum events happen and that they are positive, productive, and on schedule.


Anyone with an interest or investment in the project is considered a stakeholder. 

While stakeholders aren’t generally regarded as a primary job of scrum teams because they don’t have a role in product development. However, they do provide feedback and can influence the result of a project. 

They contribute a variety of viewpoints and frequently represent other departments or corporations.

Stakeholders play a critical role in scrum by providing feedback and insights on the product increments created by the scrum team

Product teams significantly undervalue scrum’s iterative and incremental technique without ongoing stakeholder involvement and feedback throughout a product’s development. 

The Development Team

The development team comprises professionals who create a high-quality, potentially releasable finished product at the end of each sprint of a project. 

The development team comprises highly collaborative and experienced individuals adept at organizing, time management, and issue-solving.

At the heart of the scrum development team, the structure is a self-organizing, cross-functional team of people. 

The team is in charge of creating the actual product increment and achieving the sprint target.

During sprint execution, members of the development team plan, build, integrate, and test product backlog items into increments of potentially shippable functionality. They do this through self-organizing and deciding how to plan, manage, execute, and communicate the job.

Product Owner

On a scrum team, the product owner is in charge of developing high-value products. They specialize in managing development teams and thoroughly examine project decisions to ensure they align with the team’s objectives. 

Product owners are well-versed in business processes and customer-centric ideas. 

A scrum team usually only has one product owner, similar to the scrum master.

During a sprint planning meeting, the scrum product owner prioritizes work and motivates the team with clear goals, answering any questions. 

The development team determines how much work they can complete by selecting items from the product backlog list at the top.

When to Use the Scrum Approach

Projects with frequently changing requirements utilize the scrum approach. It is based on the notion of a self-organizing, cross-functional team. 

The scrum framework deals with conditions that are likely to change fast or are unknown at the start of the project.

Teams define the low-level requirements only at the start of a scrum project. This methodology is inherent in changes and optimizations of the product, conditions, and procedures.


What is Kanban?

Since the 1950s, the Japanese phrase “kanban,” which means “visual board” or “sign,” has been used to describe a procedure, and Toyota was the first company to create and use it as a scheduling system for just-in-time manufacturing. 

On the other hand, the capitalized name “Kanban” is well-known and related to the development of the “Kanban Method,” initially established in 2007.

Kanban is a well-known framework for agile and DevOps software development. It necessitates real-time capacity communication and complete work openness. 

On a kanban board, teams visually depict the work items, allowing team members to see the status of each piece of work at any moment.

Kanban boards represent work, allowing you to maximize job delivery across many teams and manage even the most complicated projects in one place.

Origin of Kanban

Everything began in the early 1940s. Taiichi Ohno (Industrial Engineer and Businessman) created the first Kanban system for Toyota Automotive in Japan. 

It started as a simple planning system to optimally control and manage work and inventory at every production stage.

Toyota’s low productivity and efficiency compared to its American automotive competitors was a major driving force in the invention of Kanban.

The Kanban Team

The Kanban team comprises employees from several departments collaborating to provide a working solution.

The team usually comprises stakeholders from the organization’s technical and business areas.

The team should consist of knowledgeable individuals with the appropriate technical (programming, design, and testing) and business skills (e.g., domain knowledge and decision-making ability).

The Kanban team uses a Kanban board to help them organize their work.

When to Use the Kanban Board

Kanban boards provide for visible project management in software development. This allows members of the team to observe how work is progressing. It also assists students in comprehending complex information, such as processes and hazards connected with meeting deadlines.

Kanban boards are helpful because they enable project managers and team members to become more productive. This minimizes the amount of workload stress they experience during the project lifecycle.

Chisel’s kanban board allows teams to plan out what features are being worked on and when in an agile manner.
Chisel’s kanban board allows teams to plan out what features are being worked on and when in an agile manner.

Agile teams and products require quick iteration. Create Kanban boards to help you determine what should be worked on now, next, or sometime in the future using Chisel

Teams should use the Kanban software development method if they have a process that works well but might be improved. They can use the Kanban approach to steadily improve all of their tried and true methods.

Scrum vs. Kanban

Kanban and Scrum are two approaches that allow projects to adapt to change, stimulate team participation, shorten development cycles, and increase transparency.

Kanban is a task-visualization approach, whereas Scrum is a project-delivery methodology that structures workflow and team culture to execute projects on schedule.

Kanban distributes tasks in batches until the team completes the project, whereas Scrum distributes deliverables in one- to four-week intervals.

There are no pre-defined roles for a team in Kanban. Although a Project Manager may still be present, the team is encouraged to work together and pitch in when one person becomes overwhelmed. 

In Scrum, on the other hand, each team member has a straightforward job, with the Scrum master dictating timetables, the Product Owner defining goals and objectives, and the team members carrying out the task.

Kanban employs a “pull system,” or a methodical process that allows team members to “pull” new tasks only after they have completed the prior one. 

Scrum likewise uses a “pull system,” except for each iteration; teams pull an entire batch.

Changes to a project can be made in the middle of it, allowing for iterations and continual improvement before the team completes the project. 

Still, in Scrum, changes during the sprint are strictly discouraged.

Kanban uses “cycle time,” or the time it takes to complete one whole piece of a project from start to finish, while Scrum uses velocity through sprints to measure production. 

Each sprint is scheduled back-to-back or concurrently, with each subsequent sprint reliant on the success of the previous one.

Teams will continually provide products and processes as needed in Kanban (with due dates determined by the business as required). 

Sprints decide the deliverables in Scrum. You can define it as predetermined periods within which you must complete a collection of tasks and ready for review.

Which Should You Use, Scrum or Kanban?

Kanban and Scrum each have their own set of advantages. 

However, pitting Kanban against Scrum is a false dichotomy; you can easily combine the two to improve productivity.

Knowledge workers today employ the Kanban approach to improve productivity, efficiency, cycle time, and quality in various ways.

Recently popular is Scrumban, a hybrid approach that incorporates Kanban and Scrum. Scrumban combines Scrum procedures with Kanban visualization tools

Note: Have a look at the 7 Best Scrumban Tools To Manage Implementation

Scrumban can help teams experienced with either Scrum or Kanban integrate the other into their workflow.


That’s all there is to it! Thorough knowledge of Kanban and Scrum.

It will take a combination of knowledge and practice to know how to apply Kanban or Scrum (or both). This essay is worth reading if you want to become a project manager.

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