Scrum vs Kanban for Startups

Best for Startups: Scrum vs Kanban?

Having a hard time managing your team? Project management can get tricky, especially if you have a handful of people to handle. Implementing the right management practice can drastically make your business process easier, faster, and much more structured. Learn about the widely used management frameworks and find out what fits your company.

Scrum and Kanban are frameworks that adhere to the ideals and principles of Agile. Although these practices differ in structure, they follow the same main principle. Both are designed to help you streamline processes within the team and efficiently keep track of the project’s progress.

Project management is complex and broad. You need to meet certain demands to deliver an output successfully. Goals have to be established, standards have to be set, and most importantly, all plans have to be relevant. This is why most startup software teams use project management tools to track and manage their development process better. One of the most popular approaches in software development is the Agile workflow. 

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Agile is a collaborative development approach that recognizes the volatility of a project and calculates the results based on a repeated cycle of operations. This means that the team follows an iterative process, responding to changes without deviating or changing the main process structure.

There’s an ongoing debate on which framework is more ideal in the Agile practice. In this entry, we’ll explore the similarities and difference between Scrum vs Kanban.

Keep in mind that these frameworks will only be useful when they’re properly used. You’ll need to hire a project manager to implement these approaches and steer your team to success.

What is Scrum?

The Scrum method is made up of set intervals called sprints. A Scrum team commits their deliverables within a certain timeframe to create learning loops and quickly gather and integrate client feedback. Built on the principles of empiricism, Scrum focuses on delivering a valuable increment of work after each sprint. This collaborative structure between the team and client allows for lesser errors and revisions, thus completing the project in a seamless, well-organized manner. Each member is assigned a specific role and is required to share their updates regularly as the project moves forward.

Roles of Scrum

In a Guided Development process, we have three defined roles of the Scrum method:

  1. Product Owner – The general manager who keeps track of the backlogs, organizes tasks according to priorities and relays the client’s preferences. The product owner’s role is to advocate for the customer.
  2. Scrum Master – Ensures that the team follows the Scrum workflow principles.
  3. Development Team – Does the grunt work. The team sets the sprint timeframe, the number of deliverables, and are the ones collectively accountable for the output’s quality.

A Scrum team does not follow a hierarchical approach to project management. With a self-organizing structure, each member has a different responsibility but each one is at par in authority. The team’s unity stems on the common goal of shipping value to customers. 

When to use Scrum?

Scrum is ideal when a client has a strict deadline to meet in finishing the project. As much as possible, the Scrum team sets the scope and limits the changes during sprints to meet the deliverables. The structure puts to mind how to handle and limit unexpected changes to avoid disrupting the incremental work delivery.

How does Scrum work?

Scrum uses velocity as its central metric for work completed. The number of story points completed in a sprint determines the state and quality of the project. Story points are the number of problems solved within the sprint. By focusing on this, members are geared towards producing value rather than focusing on the time spent.   

What is Kanban?

Kanban likes to save time. Some tech startups prefer Kanban since approach focuses on maximizing the efficiency of each task delivery. Kanban creates an imagery of the team’s workflow through a kanban board The team focuses on shortening the project’s timeline.

Roles of Kanban

Unlike Scrum which identifies specific roles, the Kanban principle allows the whole team to share the same ownership and accountability in using the Kanban board. The collective responsibility allows the entire team to work on and deliver the tasks on the board in a fully efficient and transparent manner.

When to use Kanban?

Kanban is ideal if dates aren’t set in stone. Due to its flexible nature, there isn’t a regular schedule to follow nor predetermined due dates. Updates will only be given when things are accomplished accordingly. Unlike Scrum which requires a release milestone for every sprint, Kanban allows leeway in terms of project completion schedule.

How does Kanban work?

Kanban uses a continuous workflow structure that allows flexibility for the team to adapt to unexpected changes seamlessly. The team organizes priorities using a Kanban board wherein work items (in the form of cards) are arranged according to the workflow stage. The most commonly used workflow stages are: To Do, In Progress, In Review, Blocked, and Completed. 

What’s great is that the Kanban board allows the team to customize the names and set up the order according to their preferences.

Kanban uses Lead time and cycle time as metrics to set the average time to complete a task. Once cycle times are identified, the Kanban team can successfully finish their projects without hurdles.

A Kanban team can also use an analytical tool called Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) to study the number of work items in each state. Using CFD helps identify the bottlenecks that need to be resolved to move on to the next stage.  

Work in Progress(WIP) limit is also another way to deal with roadblocks. WIP is one of the core properties of the Kanban board which restricts the maximum amount of work items in each stage of the workflow. By capping the amount of work, the team members can better manage their workload and keep track of their current deliverables. Focusing on one task at a time will produce better quality output and will smoothen the entire process.

Scrum vs Kanban: Which Framework is better?

In theory, not one framework is better than the other. It just depends on the project your team is handling. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages and in choosing which one, it will also depend on your team’s work style. Keep in mind that Scrum is a more structured and stricter approach, while Kanban allows more room for changes. If your project needs to be completed in a set date, then Scrum is the way to go, however, if you’re not in a hurry then Kanban will work for you.

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