Kanban vs. scrum

Do you want to know more about kanban and how this will benefit your business? Are you not sure whether kanban or scrum is the best method to use? This article contains information about the kanban method and the differences with scrum, and which methods best suits your company.

What is kanban?

The first kanban system was created in the early 1940s, and the aim was to create a simple planning system to control and manage work. Japanese manufacturer Toyota Production Systems introduced this method. Starting with the original translation: a signboard.

Kanban is an agile business framework that helps to visualise work items and optimize the workflow. It supports businesses in improving their work rapidly and adding more value.

In a kanban system, this visualisation is created by the use of a kanban board with signal cards. By taking a look at the kanban board, the team immediately knows what needs to be done.

Differences between kanban and scrum

Like in kanban, scrum also uses a physical board to visualise the workflow. Both business methods are used to break up project work into smaller chunks of work. This allows work processes to be continuously improved. For more information about scrum, see: scrum and advantages of a physical scrum board.

But kanban is more flexible than scrum:

  • There are less rules
  • There are no mandatory events, you can choose to organise meetings whenever you need
  • It is based on ‘’go with the flow’’ principles
  • There are no defined roles within teams
  • Team members don’t necessarily have to be cross-functional

Scrum works with so-called ‘’sprints’’, which are timeboxes of a certain period in which the team works on particular tasks. That’s why the scrum board is reset after each of those sprints. The kanban board is not reset but continuously used.

Implementing the kanban method

There are 3 important steps that you need to take when you want to kick off the kanban method within your business. The guidance of a physical kanban board is essential for this implementation.

  1. Create and visualize the workflow on the kanban board. You can do this by putting the Column Cards ‘’To do’’, ‘’Doing’’ and ‘’Done’’ on the board to create columns. Add new tasks on the board under the ‘’To do’’ column. This way the whole team knows exactly what the current situation is after one look at the kanban board. Then, every team member can choose a task from the ‘’To do’’ column to work with, and pull it from the ‘’To do’’ column into the process.
  2. The next step is the limiting of the work in progress per column. Divide the sections on the kanban board into smaller columns, by adding the Column Cards ‘’Backlog’’ and ‘’Verify’’. For example, if the column limit is set to 5, then no more than 5 tasks will be worked on.
  3. The final step is measuring performance. To know how your team is performing, kanban uses the tools lead time and cycle time. Lead time shows how long it takes for a task to be completed from the request of the customer until it is delivered to the customer. Cycle time shows how long a task has spent in the production, or the ‘’Doing’’, section.

Extra step in process

You can choose to add an extra step to this process, and add the daily stand up meeting from scrum to the kanban method. In this daily stand up, every team member shortly explains what he or she has been doing. This is a quick and effective way to stay updated on what your team members are working on, and at the same time it is an opportunity to quickly solve any issues that might have occurred.

Kanban or scrum: what suits your business best?

Agile methods will always benefit your company, as long as you use the right one and apply it in the right way. It can be hard to choose the one that fits your business best.

The kanban method

If you are a company working on projects with different priorities and tasks, kanban is best for your team(s). These are mainly tasks that cannot be planned in advance. Especially for projects in the maintenance or product manufacturing sector kanban will be best fitted for the project. This is because new tasks come in all the time and development does not play a key role in the end result. The kanban method is a more flexible method, with fewer restricted meetings.

The main reason for businesses to choose for kanban instead of scrum, is because kanban can be used to manage work that can’t be planned in advance. It handles tasks that need to be performed urgently.

The scrum method

If you work with projects that have a clear scope, in which the tasks that will have to be performed are clear and most likely not going to change, scrum will suit your team better. It is the best method when activities can be planned and deadlines can be set on forehand.

If you want to evaluate how activities have been going, scrum is the better method to use. This is because it is a more structured method, based on interactive meetings after every iteration to ensure ongoing development. Often, companies that work with larger projects find it very useful.

The physical kanban board

To set up a kanban board and prepare your team to get the best out of themselves and the project, you only need a magnetic (or glass) board and signal cards that visualise the columns and tasks.

PATboard products can be used both for the kanban approach as for the scrum approach. So whether you are working with scrum or kanban, at PATboard we are happy to provide you with the physical agile tools you need to let your team perform at its best!