Many people are confused when it comes to project management. It seems like such a complicated subject and people tend to talk in hush tones using jargon like GANTT charts and Scrum and Kanban. It’s all very confusing!
Well don’t worry because we’re here to unravel the mystery for anyone who’s unfamiliar with either Kanban or Scrum – or both. Let’s dive right in, Digital Conquers.
Kanban – What’s It All About?
Kanban is a project management tool. It’s old. Try 1960. But it’s new again with digital tools like Kanbanize that make it fast to use Kanban using a tablet, smartphone or laptop. Because of the usefulness of Kanban, it’s growing quite a following too.
The system uses boards to indicate the status of tasks on each board. So, there’s usually a ‘To Do’ board where nothing has happened yet. Also, an ‘In Progress’ or ‘Doing’ board where all the action happens. And then, the ‘Done’ or ‘Finished’ board. Each task is given a digital card and placed on the appropriate board. It then gets moved as it progresses through the three stages. Companies are free to add other boards and stages too.
Kanban boards are used in an ongoing manner. They can represent everything that’s happening in the company right now e.g. all its projects and the tasks linked to them, the people involved, and when certain tasks are expected to be completed. It provides an overview using a tool like Kanbanize to visualize the state of play. No more guesswork.
Scrum – Let’s Knuckle Down and Learn More
In the eternal Kanban vs Scrum board debate, there are strong proponents of Scrum as a framework and methodology. So, what is Scrum?
Scrum has some similarities to Kanban. It too uses a board structure and cards representing tasks or projects. They can be assigned to one or more people and given priorities and due dates.
Where Scrum departs is mostly in what it’s used for and the restrictions placed on its usage because of that. Where Scrum excels is as a tool for a specific project and period of time. They call them sprints.
Say, a software company wants to get all its developers focused on developing the next version of their app. They figure out all the tasks that must be completed and which bugs much be resolved to call the next version “done.” This becomes a sprint with every task represented by a card on the Backlog board at the beginning.
With the sprint approach, Scrum is ideal for software development when completing a specific collection of tasks to complete a new software version. Equally, it can be used for a new company that’s in the pre-launch with a set list of tasks to complete to get the business up and running. Once a sprint is over, a new sprint is usually created with the new set of tasks to push to their completion. It’s not open ended in that way.
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Which One Is Right for Your Business?
It’s possible that your business will end up using both approaches at different times. They’re applicable to different industries and situations. Scrum is mostly used in software development and situations where the sprint construct is appropriate. It’s less useful when a company wants a project management methodology that’s usable to run its business day-to-day.
When needing software to manage tasks and projects that may or may not come to an end, then Kanban is likely to fulfill both needs. With individual projects that either have an end date or are created in phases or versions that are definable, there’s a good reason to look at Scrum for those projects.
Using Both Systems and Avoiding Scope Creep
It may even be the case that both Kanban and Scrum are used in a single organization or department. There are certainly situations where that’s applicable and necessary. There’s much to be said for the sprint methodology for its brutal efficiency.
The fact that it’s effectively like a closed list where new tasks cannot (shouldn’t anyway) get added to a sprint once it’s begun prevents scope creep during the sprint. By comparison, Kanban has no such precepts, so new tasks can be added whenever is desired. This makes it difficult to avoid scope creep. As software developers well know, scope creep where new ideas get added without regard for existing development deadlines are the bane of many developers’ lives. Being able to use Scrum to force new ideas to the next sprint session is their saving grace. Just this alone perhaps explains the enduring popularity of Scrum with software developers.
Both Scrum and Kanban go well beyond the restrictive uses of a traditional To Do list. Choose your project management system and software wisely to achieve better results on your projects and for your business.