Integrating Scrum and Kanban

January 24, 2013

Scrum and Kanban are the offspring of the agile methodology. The two methods may have different approaches, but are both rooted in the agile philosophy of software development. Scrum is useful in projects in which there will be periodic releases and Kanban comes handy in projects in which there will be frequent releases. Scrum is most often used for projects related to product development. Kanban is a useful visual project management tool and is helpful for production support. Now, when both these processes are combined, we get an upgraded process known as Scrumban, which encompasses the best practices of Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban is an enhanced and improved Scrum process.

Before we discuss how Scrum and Kanban are integrated in the Scrumban process, will have a quick look at some of the salient features of scrum and Kanban.
Implementing Scrum means:

  • Breaking the entire organization into cross-functional several teams
  • Breaking down the entire project into small chunks of well-defined deliverables
  • Listing the chunks in terms of priority and estimating the amount of work required to complete each one of them
  • Splitting time into short periods (iterations) where market-ready code is presented
  • Working on the release plan based on the review and feedback after the iteration
  • Enhancing the process with the help of retrospection after the iteration

Speaking of the workflow in scrum, the team plans and decides on the work that it will be completed in the upcoming sprint. Once decided, the sprint activities are finalized and are finished within the sprint duration, clearing the queue.

Now we will look at the features of Kanban:

  • Breaking down work into items, writing each item on a card and then sticking it on a wall
  • Using designated columns to show the placement of each item in the workflow
  • Limiting the work in progress by allocating clear limits on the number of items that may be in progress at each workflow level
  • Measuring the time needed to complete an item and trying to the lead time as predictable as possible

When it comes to the Kanban workflow, the limit on work in progress enables the team to change items in queues whenever it is needed. There’s no clearing the queue, and there is a continuous flow of work.

How are Scrum and Kanban integrated as Scrumban?

As a process, Scrumban employs the scrum principles. But along with it, it integrates Kanban tools for process improvement. Despite being used in different kinds of projects, the mechanics of Scrum and Kanban are compatible with each other. The addition of WIP limit and visual workflow to Scrum ensures that the process undergoes continuous improvement. The whole idea of planning in Scrumban is to fill vacant slots—if there is no item in a slot, then the vacancy will be filled with iteration planning. This results in decreasing the overhead of iteration planning. In a nutshell, Scrumban is Scrum in practice and Kanban in culture.

Integrating the two agile processes leads to several advantages in terms of quality, just-in-time delivery, short lead time, continuous improvement (also known as Kaizen in Kanban terminology), reducing waste and overall process improvement.

Though Scrumban is a relatively new approach in agile, it is gaining quite a lot of popularity and attention from industries that have to cater to both development and maintenance work.
Here are some areas where Scrumban can be implanted in order to achieve success:

  • Projects related to maintenance
  • Projects that require event -driven work
  • Projects that are prone to programming errors
  • Teams created to mainly work on developing new products

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