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Imagine: you’re starting a new project and you need a clear and organized way to track tasks, know who's responsible for what, and see the progress of each task in real-time. Instead of digging through scattered project documents, spreadsheets, emails, and messages to piece together this information, businesses use structured and systematic approaches to project management and workflow optimization.

Kanban and Scrum are two popular agile methodologies used to manage and improve work processes, particularly, in software development. While both serve the same purpose, they use different approaches and cater to different project needs. Therefore Scrum or Kanban is a frequent question for businesses.

In today’s blog, we’ll compare and contrast Kanban vs Scrum so that you can better understand what’s the better option in your case for managing the software development process.

Introduction to Kanban vs Scrum Methodologies

Before diving into the Kanban vs Scrum comparison, let’s have a short overview of these methodologies and discover their interesting history.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is an Agile visual workflow management method used to improve efficiency and manage work effectively. It’s based on the philosophy of continuous improvement where tasks are pulled from a product backlog into an ongoing workflow. 

The history of Kanban traces back to the 1940s when a Toyota engineer, Taiichi Ohno, decided to make the Toyota production system better. Instead of guessing what people would buy and making products in advance, Kanban made products based on what people actually wanted. This change from pushing products into the market to pulling them based on demand helped Toyota have less stuff in storage while staying competitive. 

Kanban was originally used in manufacturing but was adapted for software development in the early 2000s. In software, Kanban works like it did in manufacturing, using a system where work is pulled based on demand rather than pushed out in anticipation.

A Closer Look at How Kanban Works

The Kanban framework is implemented through the use of Kanban boards, which serve as a visual project management tool. On a Kanban board, tasks are depicted as cards that move through various stages of work, represented by columns. This setup allows your cross-functional team to track the progress of tasks in real time, providing a clear view of the workflow and ensuring everyone is up-to-date on the current status of each task.
How Kanban Works

Pros and Cons of Kanban

Like any technology, methodology, or approach, Kanban has a set of advantages and disadvantages.


  • Kanban is simple and straightforward so it’s very easy to understand and implement.
  • It’s adaptable to changes in project scope and priorities. Teams can start using Kanban with their existing processes and gradually make improvements without major disruptions​.
  • The visual representation of work on a Kanban board helps teams quickly understand the status of tasks and identify bottlenecks.
  • Kanban encourages regular review and optimization of processes.
  • By setting limits on the number of tasks in progress at any stage, Kanban helps prevent overloading and ensures a smoother workflow.


  • Unlike Scrum, which operates in fixed-length sprints, Kanban lacks a time-boxed structure. This can make it challenging to predict delivery timelines and measure progress in a structured way.
  • The lack of prescriptive roles and ceremonies can lead to confusion and ineffective implementation compared to the structured framework provided by Scrum​.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework for managing complex projects, emphasizing adaptability, collaboration, and iterative development.

In the mid-1990s, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber developed Scrum as a framework to improve software development. They were inspired by how rugby teams work together, where a "scrum" refers to a coordinated effort to move the ball forward. Similarly, Scrum aimed to help teams collaborate more effectively, delivering value in short cycles called sprints.

Rather than planning every detail upfront, Scrum emphasizes adaptability and responsiveness to change. Scrum teams work in short iterations, typically lasting two to four weeks, delivering a working product increment at the end of each entire sprint. This iterative approach allows for continuous feedback and improvement.

Scrum quickly gained popularity beyond software development and is now used in various industries for managing complex projects. Its simplicity and flexibility have made it a widely adopted framework for agile project management.

A Closer Look at How Scrum Works

Scrum works with fixed-length iterations called sprints, typically lasting from two to four weeks, and includes specific predefined roles such as product owner, Scrum master, and development team. The workflow is divided into regular ceremonies - sprint planning, daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives. It emphasizes delivering potentially shippable product parts at the end of each sprint and follows a highly structured process.
How Scrum Works

Pros and Cons of Scrum

Now, let’s have a look at Scrum’s pros and cons.


  • Scrum promotes regular communication through daily stand-ups, sprint planning, reviews, and retrospectives which fosters continuous interaction among product team members.
  • With clearly defined roles and regular meetings, Scrum ensures that everyone has visibility into the project's progress.
  • Scrum's iterative approach allows for frequent reassessment and adjustment. Teams can respond to changes in requirements or priorities quickly, making it easier to accommodate evolving project needs​.
  • By involving the product owner and stakeholders in the process, Scrum ensures that the product development is closely aligned with customer needs and expectations. 


  • Constant changes and additions to the backlog can disrupt the focus and extend the project timeline​.
  • Successful implementation of Scrum requires team members who are experienced in agile methodologies and self-management.
  • The product owner plays a crucial role in prioritizing the backlog and defining the product vision. If the product owner is unavailable or lacks decision-making authority, it can create bottlenecks and hinder the Agile team's progress​.

Kanban vs Scrum: Major Differences

Now, let’s dive a little deeper to see the difference between Kanban and Scrum.

Kanban vs Scrum

# 1 Roles and Accountabilities

One of Scrum and Kanban difference lies in distributing the responsibilities. 

In Scrum, there are three main roles:

  1. The product owner is responsible for defining and prioritizing the product backlog.
  2. Scrum master ensures that the team adheres to Scrum principles and removes obstacles if there are any.
  3. The development team delivers the product increment during each sprint.

In Kanban, roles are typically more flexible, with less emphasis on specific titles. However, some roles and responsibilities can naturally emerge based on the needs of the team and the workflow. Usually, these are 

  1. The service delivery manager is responsible for ensuring the smooth flow of work through the Kanban system.
  2. The service request manager manages incoming work requests and ensures they are properly prioritized and ready for the team to pull.

These roles are not mandatory and can be adjusted or combined based on the team's needs and context.

#2 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Scrum vs Kanban KPIs

Comparing Kanban vs Scrum, we can’t ignore the approach to measuring KPIs. Both Kanban and Scrum use KPIs to drive improvement, but they do so from completely different perspectives.

Scrum uses specific KPIs within time-boxed sprints to manage work and track performance. Key KPIs include:

  1. Velocity measures work completed in a sprint.
  2. Sprint burndown chart tracks remaining work in a sprint.
  3. Sprint goal success rate is the percentage of sprints meeting goals.
  4. Defect density number of defects per unit of work.
  5. Planned capacity is the estimated work the team can complete in a sprint.

Kanban focuses on continuous flow and process efficiency with flexible, ongoing measurement. Key KPIs include:

  1. Cycle times measure the time for a task to move through the workflow.
  2. Lead time measures the total time from task request to completion.
  3. Throughput estimates the number of individual tasks completed in a given period of time.
  4. Work in progress tracks the number of tasks that are currently in progress.
  5. Cumulative flow diagram visualizes tasks status over time.

Summing up, the key difference between Kanban and Scrum in measuring KPIs and key performance metrics is that

Scrum measures progress in fixed sprints, focusing on entire team performance and meeting sprint commitments.

Kanban measures continuous flow, focusing on process efficiency and task movement speed.

#3 Meetings

Scrum uses structured, time-boxed meetings within sprints to manage work and ensure continuous improvement. Sprint planning sets the sprint goals and tasks at the start. Daily standups provide quick progress updates and identify blockers. At the sprint's end, the sprint review showcases completed work to stakeholders for feedback, followed by a sprint retrospective to reflect on the sprint and plan improvements.

Kanban meetings focus on continuous flow and improvement with flexible schedules. Daily stand-ups discuss progress and blockers. Regular replenishment meetings decide which tasks to pull next. Service delivery reviews periodically evaluate process efficiency using metrics, while kaizen meetings are held as needed to address specific improvements and issues.

#4 Difference Between Scrum Board And Kanban Board                    

Scrum vs Kanban board

Visual tools are used to manage workflows and track the progress of tasks in both methodologies. However, comparing Kanban board vs Scrum board, it’s worth mentioning that they are designed for different purposes and follow different principles.

The Scrum board is an extension of the product backlog. When the team commits to a given amount of work during the sprint planning process, it is added to the sprint backlog on the board. The team then starts working on these tasks, moving them through stages such as "to do," "in progress," and "done." The common goal is to complete all tasks by the end of the sprint. Logically, the board is reset after each iteration to reflect the new sprint's tasks.

On the other hand, the Kanban board is a continuous map of the team’s process. When building it, the goal is to create a sustainable Kanban system that can stand the test of time. A proper Kanban board has work-in-progress limits visualized on it to control the amount of work in each stage. The focus is on managing the flow of tasks through the process, improving delivery speed by ensuring that work is pulled through the system based on capacity, rather than pushing new tasks before the team is ready. Unlike Scrum boards, Kanban boards are not reset but are continuously updated as work progresses.

#5 Work Planning

Scrum uses a time-boxed approach to work planning, centered around fixed-length iterations called sprints, usually lasting 2-4 weeks. At the beginning of each sprint, the team holds a sprint planning meeting where they commit to a set amount of work based on their historical velocity and team capacity.

Kanban employs a continuous flow approach to work planning, without fixed iterations. Work items are continuously pulled into the workflow based on the team's capacity and work-in-progress limits, which are set for each stage of the process.

Kanban vs Scrum: Similarities

Although Scrum and Kanban difference is quite striking, there are still some aspects they have in common.

Kanban vs Scrum: Similarities

How to Choose Kanban or Scrum?

When choosing Scrum or Kanban, consider your team's characteristics, the nature of your work, and how you prefer to manage and improve processes when choosing between Scrum and Kanban. In some cases, combining elements of both (Scrumban) may provide the best solution.

When to Choose Kanban

Choose Kanban for fast-moving environments where continuous delivery and workflow management are crucial, such as support and maintenance teams or projects with a steady stream of incoming tasks that need to be handled as they arise. It is ideal for teams that need flexibility and aim to improve efficiency by visualizing work, limiting work in progress, and focusing on incremental improvements.

When to Choose Scrum

Scrum is best suited for projects that benefit from a structured approach with fixed-length iterations and a focus on iterative development and continuous improvement. It works well in environments where requirements are well-defined and stable, and where there is a need for predictable delivery cycles and regular feedback loops.

Kanban vs Scrum: Who Prevails?

Finally, Scrum or Kanban?

Each framework has its own set of strengths.

Kanban is suitable for continuous, flow-based work, while Scrum is ideal for projects that benefit from iterative, time-boxed development.

Ultimately, the choice between Kanban and Scrum depends on the specific needs of your project and team dynamics. If your entire project requires structure and predictability - choose Scrum, if you need flexibility and continuous flow - opt for Kanban.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kanban vs Scrum
What are Kanban and Scrum?
Kanban and Scrum are two popular agile methodologies used to manage work and improve efficiency in various industries. Both methodologies aim to enhance team collaboration, productivity, and product quality, but they differ in their approach: Kanban is continuous and flow-based, while Scrum is iterative and time-boxed.
What is the Difference Between Scrum and Kanban
Kanban and Scrum are both agile methodologies used to manage and improve work processes, but they differ in their structure and approach. Scrum operates with fixed-length iterations called sprints, typically lasting two to four weeks, and includes specific roles such as product owner, scrum master, etc., and ceremonies. It emphasizes delivering a potentially shippable product increment at the end of each sprint and follows a highly structured process. In contrast, Kanban focuses on continuous delivery and visualizing workflow through a Kanban board with columns representing different stages of work. It does not prescribe specific roles or time-boxed iterations but instead limits work in progress to improve flow and efficiency. Kanban is more flexible and can be overlaid on existing processes, allowing tasks to move through stages as capacity permits.
When to Use Kanban vs Scrum
Choosing Kanban vs Scrum, we recommend opting for Kanban for environments where continuous delivery and workflow management are crucial, such as support and maintenance teams or projects with a steady stream of incoming tasks that need to be handled as they arise. It is ideal for teams that need flexibility and aim to improve efficiency by visualizing work, limiting work in progress, and focusing on incremental improvements. On the other hand, Scrum is suitable for projects that benefit from a more structured, iterative approach, such as software development with clear requirements and deadlines.
Does a Hybrid Exist Between Scrum and Kanban?
Yes, there is a hybrid approach known as "Scrumban" which combines elements of both Kanban and Scrum. Scrumban leverages the structured, iterative framework of Scrum while incorporating the flexibility and flow-based aspects of Kanban. This hybrid method aims to maximize the strengths of both methodologies to better suit the needs of various teams and projects.
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