Kanban vs. Scrum A Comparison of Two Agile Project Management Approaches

A Kanban Board is an essential component of Kanban. It is a board on a computer that displays your work process. This board is organised into columns indicating project stages, with cards or sticky notes for each job or work item. Kanban may appear simple, and learning its concepts and practises can open new possibilities for your team. This is where the Kanban Course helps. It’s a gateway to unlocking the full potential of the Kanban methodology.

Like Kanban, Scrum helps teams streamline processes and provide high-quality outputs, making substantial progress in project management. Choosing one can be difficult. Therefore, we created this extensive blog comparing the two to help you make the best decision. But first let’s try to get some basic understanding of What is Kanban Board and Scrum.

Table of Contents 

  • What is Kanban?
  • What is Scrum?
  • Comparing Kanban and Scrum
  • Conclusion

What is Kanban?  

With its origins in Japanese manufacture, Kanban has an exciting past. Its roots go back to the 1940s Toyota Production System, which was cleverly implemented to streamline production procedures. The fundamental idea was straightforward yet revolutionary: use cards or signboards to depict work in progress visually. This visual technique makes it extremely simple to identify inefficiencies, allowing for prompt corrections and enhancements. With time, Kanban moved beyond its manufacturing roots to become a flexible approach that could be used in a variety of knowledge-based fields and sectors.

What is Scrum?  

Scrum, like Kanban, has an intriguing backstory. It first appeared in the early 1980s when Dr. Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber were looking for ways to improve software development processes. They were inspired by Takeuchi and Nonaka’s 1986 Harvard Business Review article, which defined a flexible and holistic approach to new product development, like the teamwork and adaptation observed in rugby. Scrum gets its name from the sport’s “scrummage,” in which a team works hard to advance the ball ahead. Scrum symbolises teamwork and agility in project management.

Comparing Kanban and Scrum 

Flexibility vs. Structure

Kanban is frequently praised for its adaptability. It adapts to your current processes and enables continuous improvement without predefined roles or time constraints. In contrast, Scrum provides a structured framework with predefined roles (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team) and events (Sprints, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective). The choice between flexibility and structure is determined by the preferences of your team and the nature of your projects.

Work Item Types

Work items are handled differently in Kanban and Scrum. Kanban does not require certain work item kinds or sizes; you can take a wide range of jobs, large and small, in a single flow. Scrum, on the other hand, relies on User Stories or backlog items that are often smaller and more granular, allowing for incremental development. The decision here is influenced by the nature of your work and how you choose to manage it.

Work in Progress (WIP) Limits

WIP limitations are essential to both approaches. Kanban sets WIP limits at every stage to manage workflow and avoid overloading. According to their capabilities, the team implicitly sets the WIP limit in Scrum during Sprint Planning. Whereas Scrum’s WIP limit is defined for the duration of the Sprint, Kanban’s specific WIP limitations provide more precise control over work.

Cycle Time vs. Sprint Length

In Kanban and Scrum, cycle time and sprint length are critical KPIs. Cycle time in Kanban quantifies how long it takes a work item to move from start to completion, providing insight into process efficiency. Sprint length is defined in Scrum, typically lasting 2-4 weeks, giving a predictable cycle for planning and delivery. Your desire for predictability and responsiveness influences the decision between these indicators.

Planning and Adaptability

With Sprint Planning sessions and a set Sprint backlog for every iteration, Scrum places a heavy focus on planning. Planning using Kanban is more flexible and continuous since tasks are taken from the backlog when capacity permits. Scrum’s methodical planning can yield predictability, whereas Kanban’s flexible methodology enables quicker reactions to modifications.

Team Roles and Responsibilities

Scrum establishes distinct roles and duties for the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team. Functions are more fluid in Kanban, and team members frequently have greater responsibilities. The technique you choose is determined by your team’s preferences and the need for clearly defined responsibilities.

Metrics and Performance Tracking

Kanban and Scrum both provide metrics for tracking performance. Kanban measures efficiency and process improvements by focusing on cycle time, lead time, and throughput. Scrum employs metrics such as Velocity to assess the team’s capacity and progress across multiple Sprints. Metrics should be chosen in accordance with your objectives and the level of detail required for performance analysis.


Adopting Agile project management requires constant adjustment and development, which can be further facilitated by enrolling in Business Improvement Courses. Regardless of whether you go with a hybrid, Scrum, or Kanban approach, the most important thing is to match your methodology to the demands of your team, the objectives of your company, and the type of work you do. Regardless of the particular framework you select, the Agile mindset emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and delivering value to customers.

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