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Should you Choose Scrum or Kanban?

The software development world is changing and for the better. Many software developers now follow the Agile development method, which allows them to implement processes in a more efficient fashion and get to the final point more quickly. Agile is, for most software development companies, the way forward. However, there are competing frameworks that are variously used: Scrum, and Kanban.

Below, we will talk about each one, explaining what Scrum and Kanban are, and highlighting the differences, benefits, and potential pitfalls of each. Let’s start with a brief outline of the idea behind Agile development.

What is Agile?

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Agile is an umbrella term that applies to a group of software development frameworks and principles that are designed to enable greater productivity and more efficient use of time and resources. The minimal notable difference between agile and other methods of development is that it focuses on the people involved, their roles, and how they come together to enable the framework to operate effectively.

Agile is a collaborative effort in which determined groups of operatives work across borders to bring about change and effect in a quick and yet accurate fashion. There are set processes to the agile methods, yet each is fluid and open to change and moves at a pace towards the aim with input from all angles. Agile development is ultimately about bringing all the different threads together to create the final product.

One of the main stumbling blocks with Agile development is that it merits a change in working methods – and in thought processes. It is a different approach to traditional methods that software developers have up to now been familiar with. This can result in a reluctance to change on the part of individuals – the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality is prevalent – yet when they do accept the change, the benefits will be felt and seen quickly.

Before we move on, if you’re looking for more detail read this Agile development explained text and it should tell you what you need to know. Now, let’s talk about the two frameworks in our title – Scrum, and Kanban.

What is Scrum in Agile Development?

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Scrum is an agile development format used for software development and involves defined short iterations known as ‘sprints’. By splitting each milestone into sprints, the project can move forward in a defined manner with the appropriate input from those involved. A sprint can be any length of time yet, given the purpose of scrum is to turn things around efficiently and quickly, they are usually set at around a couple of weeks to a month.

Scrum is operated by way of teams working separately, but bringing everything together under the control of a Scrum Master, who can be thought of as the central operator, and a Product Owner, who is responsible for the overall success of the project and is the link between the team and the client.

As there are many differences between this method of development and the traditional software developer approach, it is recommended that any company new to the method ensures the key people are trained in scrum and agile with Scrum Alliance accredited training providers such as www.scrumwithstyle.com. The training is sure to give your team a head start when it comes to moving to Scrum, Kanban, or Agile ways of working in general

Let’s now have a look at the Kanban method, and how it differs from Scrum.

What is Kanban?

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There are similarities in the approaches of both Scrum and Kanban agile methods, yet there are also great differences. Kanban has its roots in what is known as ‘Lean’ development and production methods that have been used for many years in certain areas of commerce and industry. You may have heard it referred to as ‘Just In Time’ (JIT) production or development.

The purpose of Kanban – which was developed at Toyota, the Japanese automotive and industrial giant, in the 1940’s – is the efficient management of all areas of Work In Progress (WIP) at all times, with the aim of producing products when they are needed, and with better use of time management.

It’s easy to see, then, how this philosophy would fit in with software development, and why many companies are introducing Kanban as their method of agile development. As efficient productivity is the key aim of all agile development practices, it becomes even clearer why this method has been adopted.

The major difference between Scrum and Kanban is this: Scrum splits the development into short cycles called Sprints, each with a defined beginning and end. Kanban does not; it is not an iterative development programme in the way that Scrum is, as different areas of the development process can take place together, in the same timeframe.

Kanban’s limits are defined by WIP, rather than by starting and finishing dates, and it offers a more fluid method of working. By setting limits on the WIP permitted at any time, it is only when one process is complete that another begins, hence the efficiency of the system which will never overload capacity.

Which is Best – Scrum or Kanban?

The simple fact is that each of our Agile methods – Scrum and Kanban – has its merits. Scrum is fast becoming the choice for development companies looking to move with the times and get away from traditional ‘waterfall’ style of developing which – while effective – is outdated and often subject to unseen stoppages and problems.

If there is one major advantage to Kanban, it is that it does not impose specific roles in the way that Scrum does. This makes it more attractive to software development businesses who want to move forward, but who do not relish dealing with the major change in working practices – not to mention methods of thinking and acting – that Scrum undoubtedly brings with it.

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However, it is worth adding that once the initial upheaval and changes have been overcome, Scrum represents perhaps the most efficient and successful method of software development and that is the reason it is becoming extremely popular in the current era. Why not check out courses and training, and see how it can help you and your team understand the changes required to start working with Scrum in Agile.


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